The Royal Mint’s Floral £1 coin series – Northern Ireland Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Silver Piedfort editions released
01 Sep 2014
The Royal Mint is to release limited edition precious metal £1 coins bearing the flora of Northern Ireland, in a continuation of its popular series celebrating the United Kingdom’s best-loved botanical icons. The Northern Ireland £1 coin portrays Timothy Noad’s carefully-detailed flax plant and shamrock - the former representing the region’s linen-rich history - and is available in fine Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Silver Piedfort limited editions.
Since its introduction in 1983, the £1 coin has provided a platform on which to celebrate the four parts of the United Kingdom, with designs representing the Royal Arms, capital cities, bridges, and national emblems. Continuing the themed series that started in 2013 with the England and Wales floral £1 coins, the flora of Scotland and Northern Ireland are celebrated on the circulating and commemorative £1 coins of 2014. The release of the Northern Ireland £1 coins in precious metal completes the series.
The design for this £1 coin for Northern Ireland unites two floral emblems, the well-known shamrock with the lesser-known plant that has become symbolic of unity, the flax. The floral symbols face each other, carefully balanced in a ‘yin-yang’ arrangement. Together, they combine the spirit and natural beauty of Northern Ireland.
The shamrock represents a long and colourful tradition in Ireland, its origins mainly associated with St Patrick who, it is believed, spread the Christian message in Ireland using the three-leafed plant to explain the Holy Trinity. The shamrock is worn annually on the feast day of St Patrick on 17 March. The tradition is also observed within the military when a member of the Royal Family presents shamrock sprigs to the Irish Guards during the St Patrick’s Day Parade.
The flax is another example of nature offering powerful and colourful symbols. With its intense blue petals, the flax was at the heart of Northern Ireland’s linen industry, its fibres used to produce the famed Irish linen. As people from all backgrounds worked in the linen industry, flax is seen as a symbol of unity – it was adopted as the emblem of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and was used as a symbol of the country on £1 coins in 1986 and 1991.
The obverse of the flora series Northern Ireland £1 coins features the current portrait of Her Majesty the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, whilst the edge inscription reads: DECUS ET TUTAMEN or ‘An ornament and a safeguard’. The reverse designs are by Timothy Noad, renowned numismatic and medallic artist and Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.
Commenting on his designs, Timothy Noad said, “In designing a series of coins representing each country of the UK, it is important that the motif on each coin is clearly recognisable and also keeps within the heraldic rules and conventions. I often find inspiration in medieval manuscripts, illumination and the work of William Morris, as well as the study of nature”.
Each coin is accompanied by an informative booklet that explores the symbolism of the flora that decorates it, and is finished with extracts from poems that capture the national passion behind each of these symbols. Each comes with a certificate of authenticity, which marks it as an official coin of The Royal Mint.
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