Royal Mint celebrates ‘Greatest Briton of all time’ on new £20 coin
15 Jan 2015
The Royal Mint has unveiled the theme of its third United Kingdom £20 for £20 coin as the great British statesman Sir Winston Churchill. Twice Britain’s Prime Minister, and renowned the world over for his unyielding leadership and formidable character, Churchill is regularly voted as the ‘Greatest Briton’ in public polls.
The reverse design of the Winston Churchill £20 coin is by figurative sculptor Etienne Millner, who took his inspiration from the celebrated photograph of Churchill captured by Yousuf Karsh in 1941. The coin bears the current portrait of Her Majesty The Queen on its obverse by Ian Rank-Broadley.
This collectable coin is the third in The Royal Mint’s popular £20 coin range and marks 50 years since the death of Churchill in 1965, when The Royal Mint first produced a commemorative coin in his honour.
The first £20, bearing Pistrucci’s classic St George and the dragon design, sold out rapidly after its release in 2013. Its successor was released in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin, Bullion and Medals said, “Sir Winston Churchill holds a significant place in Britain’s history as a great leader, soldier, artist and writer, not only acting as Prime Minister on two occasions but also leading the country twice through the dark days of war. His image, reputation and legacy are instantly recognisable all over the world, therefore it is only fitting that he takes pride of place on The Royal Mint’s third £20 for £20 coin.”
The Coin and its designer Etienne Millner is a leading figurative sculptor, creating works in clay and plaster that are later cast in bronze. A fellow of the Royal British Society of Sculptors and Vice President of the Society of Portrait Sculptors, much of his work is portraiture, often life-sized or larger. Etienne’s subjects include politicians, artists, writers and many personal commissions. Etienne’s latest work includes a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee life size sculpture commissioned by the Leathersellers’ Company. This is his first commission for The Royal Mint and it provided an enjoyable challenge.
“My work is normally very free, and while I achieve a good likeness to the subject my portraits are not entirely literal. Working within the confines of a coin’s size and relief took some practice and for Churchill I could only work with photographs instead of a sitting. I turned to the famous portrait taken by Yousuf Karsh in 1941, however, the picture is dark and I had to turn to other lighter prints for some of the fine details. Working with the coin’s relief forced me to simplify and emphasise the strongest features, all helping to achieve the likeness of such a familiar figure.” Etienne Millner