Royal Arms revisited | The Royal Mint

01 Apr 2015

The Royal Mint has issued a new £1 coin for 2015 portraying Timothy Noad’s contemporary reworking of the Royal Arms, in a heraldic celebration of the United Kingdom.

Featuring Jody Clark’s ‘fifth portrait’ of Her Majesty The Queen on the obverse, this new commemorative The Royal Arms 2015 United Kingdom £1 coin is being issued in Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver Proof, Silver Proof Piedfort and Gold Proof editions.

The Royal Arms has featured on the coinage of the United Kingdom for centuries, and is an emblem that is trusted and respected all over the world. Once displayed on the medieval battlefield on shields, banners and dress, the Royal Coat of Arms has always been – and remains to this day – a national symbol.

Signifying authority, approval and allegiance, it identifies The Queen in her capacity as Head of State and is a well-known motif displayed in government buildings, in churches and on official documents.

Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals, Shane Bissett said “Since the £1 coin’s introduction in 1983, it has represented a celebration of the UK through a variety of designs inspired by architecture, bridges and floral symbols of the home nations, interspersed with interpretations of The Royal Arms. For 2015 we welcome The Royal Arms back in the form of Timothy Noad’s contemporary take on the emblem.”

The public can expect to see the new design in their change from November this year.

It will be the first new commemorative design on the current £1 circulating coin to feature the fifth portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, by The Royal Mint designer Jody Clark. It is also significant in that it will be one of the last designs to appear on the ‘current’ £1 coin, as a new, highly secure £1 coin will be released into circulation in 2017.

The Royal Arms explained

The Royal Arms is an ornate emblem with a quartered shield at its centre, supported on the one side by a crowned English lion and on the other a Scottish unicorn. Just below sit the rose, thistle and shamrock representing England, Scotland and Ireland respectively. The older union with Wales is not usually symbolised here, although more modern designs add the leek to restore the balance of the home nations.

Beneath the lion and unicorn is the motto of English monarchs – ‘Dieu et mon droit’ (God and my right), while around the shield the insignia of the Order of the Garter display the Order’s own motto – ‘Honi soit qui mal y pense’ (shame upon him who thinks evil upon it).

The Coin’s Design and its Designer

The reverse of this commemorative £1 coin for 2015 was created by Timothy Noad, whose floral designs also graced the £1 coins of 2013 and 2014. The acclaimed artist has a background steeped in calligraphy, heraldry and illumination and specialises in working with age old traditions and materials. As an Herald Painter (heraldic artist) at Her Majesty's College of Arms, and Scribe and Illuminator to Her Majesty's Crown Office at the House of Lords, Timothy receives multiple commissions each year which incorporate the Royal Arms device in its traditional form.

This design is especially important and meaningful to the artist he had always harboured an ambition to create his own interpretation of the Royal Arms. Seizing his chance, he looked to the Hanoverian and Victorian periods for inspiration, and it was on a visit to the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich that he spotted an unusual variant on the Royal Coat of Arms on the side of a naval drum, dating from Nelson’s time, giving the supporters (the lion and unicorn) much more prominence than usual – a design he thought would work well on something as small as a coin.

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