Is Lennon set to lose out to girl power?

15 Jul 2010

For the first time in its 1,100 year history, the Royal Mint is asking the public to decide who should be commemorated on a coin issued by the Channel Island of Alderney.

For four years the nation’s currency provider has celebrated iconic figures in British history on a series of coins called Great Britons, with Shakespeare, Churchill, Charles Darwin, Florence Nightingale, and Sir Isaac Newton all celebrated in precious metal. Until now, decisions about who should feature were made by a panel of experts, but now the Royal Mint is opening up the process to the public, and from a shortlist of six, the people are being asked to decree who should be the next British icon to join its illustrious line up.

Six heavyweights of British history – Jane Austen, Sir Walter Raleigh, John Logie Baird, Emmeline Pankhurst, Sir Douglas Bader, and John Lennon - are up for the public vote and in an initial poll of 2,000 people to determine the favourite so far, the girls are beating the boys.

From this initial poll, 21% believe Emmeline Pankhurst, the driving force behind women’s right to vote, has earned the right to be commemorated on a coin, with 19% voting for Jane Austen, granddame of the romantic novel and creator of some of the most memorable characters in English literature. Whilst Austen emerged as the most popular for those under 24, Pankhurst prevailed in both the 25-34 and 35-44 year old categories. For those over 45, the most popular contender is Sir Douglas Bader, the RAF pilot, soldier and explorer, best remembered for his heroism in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

Sir Walter Raleigh is third in the overall poll (at just under 18% of the vote) with John Lennon at a surprising fourth place. The Liverpool legend is the only contemporary icon included in the list.

Commenting on the public vote, Dave Knight, Director of Commemorative Coin at the Royal Mint, said: "This is a genuine first – for both the Royal Mint and the general public – never before has the opportunity to decide who appears on an Alderney coin been given by the Royal Mint. All the figures who appear on the shortlist have contributed a huge amount to Britain’s rich history. We have representatives from science, the arts, politics and industry, all of whom deserve to be remembered. Whoever wins the vote will follow in the footsteps of the Greatest Britons of all time."

To vote for the next Great Briton, go to www.royalmint.com/greatbritons to ensure your favourite icon wins a place in Royal Mint history. The poll is open until 31st July and the winner will be announced on the website in August.

- Ends -

For media enquiries, please contact the Royal Mint Press Office on 0845 600 50 18.

Notes to Editors

Alderney Issue Coin

Specifications

Denomination

£5

Alloy

0.925 silver

Weight

28.28g

Diameter

38.61mm

Production Standard

Proof

Royal Mint facts

  • The Royal Mint has a history dating back over 1,000 years. By the late thirteenth century the organisation was based in the Tower of London, and remained there for over 500 years. By 1812, the Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in Llantrisant, South Wales

  • There were estimated to be 28.2 billion United Kingdom coins in circulation at 31 March 2009, with a total face value of £3.6 billion – all manufactured by the Royal Mint

  • 1.3 billion United Kingdom coins were issued during 2008-09

  • Of the higher denomination coins, it is the 20p piece that is most in demand – with more than 2.4 billion now in circulation.