War and battle, birthdays and farewells are some of the themes announced for the United Kingdom’s 2016 circulating commemorative coins.
The Royal Mint is celebrating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings on a 50-penny coin, while £2 coins mark the centennial of World War I and the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. In addition, three £2 coins celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, and a £5 coin celebrates the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II. A £1 coin is to help the nation say farewell to the “round pound.”
Each coin bears the fifth definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, designed by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark and introduced in 2015.
The Battle of Hastings was a landmark event in British history on Oct. 14, 1066.
The reverse of the 50-penny coin, designed by John Bergdahl, depicts the fate of King Harold, the (last) Anglo-Saxon king of England who was killed as the Norman conquest of England began.
The copper-nickel coin weighs 8 grams and measures 27.3 millimeters in diameter.
A Brilliant Uncirculated version has an unlimited mintage and is available in a colorful card for £10.
Special round pound
The debut of a new, more secure £1 coin in 2017 ushers out the era of the “round pound,” which began in 1983.
In 2016, to say farewell, the Royal Mint is issuing a special version of the popular denomination, with a design by Gregory Cameron, that is not being released for general circulation.
The unicorn, lion rampant, stag and dragon, each representing one of the four constituencies of the United Kingdom, appear artistically arranged on the reverse, with a royal crown at the center.
The copper-nickel £1 coin weighs 9.5 grams and measures 22.5 millimeters in diameter.
A BU version has unlimited mintage and retails for £10.
Multiple £2 coins
Five different £2 coins commemorate varying themes. All are ringed-bimetallic coins, with a nickel-brass ring surrounding a copper-nickel core, weigh 12 grams and measure 28.4 millimeters in diameter.
One £2 coin marks the 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London in 1666.
The fire started in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane. The Royal Mint, then based in the Tower of London, was saved from the flames by the demolition of houses that lay between it and the fire. Royal Mint designer Aaron West captured the event that changed the face of the City of London forever, showing an engulfed skyline viewed from the River Thames.
The Army £2 coin highlights the patriotic fervor that swept Britain in 1914 in response to Lord Kitchener’s call to arms. Friends, neighbors and colleagues served side by side in “Pals” Battalions to defend their country — a spirit of camaraderie that is remembered on the £2 coin by graphic designer Tim Sharp, featuring a stylized depiction of several soldiers as well as barbed wire.
The BU base-metal versions of the Fire and Army coins are unlimited and cost £10 each.
Three other £2 coins all mark the 400th anniversary of the life of Shakespeare.