World Coins

Bishop designs Britain's final 'round pound'

In the United Kingdom, a bishop has designed a new coin for the queen.

The Royal Mint told Coin World on June 2 that the final “round pound” design was available.

The commemorative design for 2016 is not being released into circulation, but is only available as a commemorative coin sold above face value, intended to “[capture] the moment that the round pound passes from currency to history,” according to the Royal Mint. 

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The last round circulating £1 coin was struck in December 2015, but this new commemorative is being minted to bid farewell to the “round pound” coins that have been in use since 1983. 

Beginning in 2017, a 12-sided £1 coin with groundbreaking security features will replace the existing round coin.

The design of the £1 coin has traditionally celebrated the four parts of the United Kingdom — either in the form of the Royal Arms, or in several series of national designs for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Bishop creates design

The reverse of the 2016 commemorative £1 returns to the Royal Arms design, its signature theme, and is inspired by the fantastical beasts of British heraldry. It was created by the Bishop of St. Asaph, North Wales, Gregory Cameron.

Cameron said of his design: “I wanted to reflect the equality and dignity of all four nations that make up the United Kingdom. The ‘Royal Beasts’ of the four nations therefore receive equal billing, leaping to the defence of the sovereignty of our nation, and symbolic of our proud and varied history.”

Gregory Cameron is bishop of the Anglican Church in Wales, serving the Diocese of St. Asaph in North East Wales, and is an amateur artist and coin collector. Interested in heraldry since childhood, he has previously designed a coat of arms for the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. Cameron had initially submitted his design for the new 12-sided coin, in a public competition. 

Though it wasn’t selected for the reshaped coin to be issued in 2017, it was so popular with the Royal Mint Advisory Committee that it was chosen for this commemorative Farewell Round Pound.

Throughout 2016, visitors to the new Royal Mint Experience will be able to strike their very own £1 coin featuring this powerful royal beasts design.

Ties to history

The first £1 coin featured a classic Royal Arms design created by Eric Sewell. 

The Latin inscription DECUS ET TUTAMEN, meaning “An ornament and a safeguard” was featured on the milled edge of the first round pound coin. The phrase was chosen as a reminder of when edge inscriptions were introduced to coins to reduce “clipping,” to gain precious metal that could be melted and enrich the clipper. 

The coin’s reverse has featured further interpretations of the Royal Arms, and series have explored themes from bridges to boats, and botany to beasts, always representing the home nations. 

The origins of the £1 coin can be traced to Tudor times, when Henry VII ordered the officers of his Royal Mint to “produce a new money of gold.” 

His sovereign was first struck in 1489; with a value of £1 sterling, it was the largest coin yet seen in England. The £1 coin returned in modern times in a very different form, an everyday icon and a mainstay of the nation’s pockets and purses.

By the early 1980s, £1 notes were deemed unequal to the task of circulation, given their relatively short lifespan, and the modern £1 coin was created, entering circulation on April 21, 1983.

For the very last round £1 coin, Cameron returned to the Royal Arms for inspiration. His contemporary reworking of the ancient symbol of heraldry sees four nations standing proudly together as one. 

Specifications, editions

The coin is available in gold, silver and silver piedfort editions in Proof, or as a Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel edition in a display folder. 

All four of the coins feature the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and the edge lettering referenced earlier. 

The coins measure 22.5 millimeters in diameter, the standard size. 

The BU coin weighs 9.5 grams and has an unlimited mintage. It retails for £10.

The standard Proof .925 fine silver coin weighs 9.5 grams and has a mintage limit of 11,000 pieces. The 7,500 examples of the coin that were made available for £50 each sold out almost immediately. Royal Mint officials have not disclosed whether all or any of the balance of coins not yet released will be available in other products. 

The piedfort silver coin weighs 19 grams and has a mintage limit of 4,500 pieces. In total, 3,000 were issued at £100 each and also sold out.

The .9167 fine gold version weighs 19.619 grams and has a mintage limit of 800 pieces. In total, 500 were released at £850 and have sold out.

For more information about the coins, visit the Royal Mint website

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