As one of The Royal Mint’s flagship coins, Britannia is part of the fabric of the nation. Every designer who reimagines this iconic figure for a new coin takes forward a time-honoured tradition and Dan Thorne carries the baton in more ways than one for our Britannia 2022 Collection.
Dan, who is one of the youngest designers to interpret Britannia for our coins, followed in a family tradition when he came to work at The Royal Mint, as his grandfather used to work as a storeman. As an internal product designer, Dan models coin designs that have been shortlisted by The Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC), and on this occasion, he was able to model his own Britannia design following its shortlisting.
What does Britannia mean to you?
“My grandad worked at The Royal Mint until he was 65 and he understood how important it is to people. He also collected coins, including Britannia, so I was landed when I was chosen to design the 2022 coin. I didn’t really expect it but I had wanted to work on a classical coin for a while, and Britannia is one of the most classical coins you can get.
“My goal with this coin was to merge a classical feel with something that appeals to a wider, modern audience. I put the figure in a three-quarter view that we don’t normally see her in but kept the iconic distant gaze and proud stance. I wanted to have a fully 3D modelled Britannia but with the background in a flatter, graphic style in order to make her really stand out. I have included all the iconic imagery associated with Britannia – the lion, waves and flag – but in a more subtle way. All these elements are surrounded by the beading that is reminiscent of older coins.”
What was your design process?
“I received the brief and was invited to submit designs for it. Submissions go to The Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) and these are narrowed down to three or four. Britannia attracts a lot of designers and it’s particularly sought-after by the more traditional artists. It comes back to us as a shortlist and we model every shortlisted design fully, then they go back to the Committee, who might ask for alterations.
“I worked very hard on the designs. All designs used to be worked in plaster. Now, at The Royal Mint, we have transferred to digital design but some of the external artists still work in plaster because of the raw feel. My favourite part of the process is when a design has been submitted and I’ve started the modelling, as I know the Committee likes my design!”
How long have you worked at The Royal Mint?
“I started working here about three years ago, when I was 25. I studied illustration at Swansea Met and didn’t really think about coin design, even though there was the connection with my grandad. I worked at the Dogs Trust in Bridgend while working on my portfolio and The Royal Mint’s design team asked to see my images.
“One of the first things I designed at The Royal Mint was a big release, Disney’s Winnie the Pooh coin, which I am really proud of. I also worked on The Who coin, modelling the chosen design. I’m so glad to be part of The Royal Mint. The design team is so supportive and I’m always learning.”
What inspires you?
“As an illustrator, I’m inspired by traditional artists from the 1950s, such as Leyendecker, who illustrated postcards and magazine covers in the early twentieth century. I like figurative work and the printmakers and engravers from the early medieval period. My favourite things to do are portraits and drawings of animals. My grandad had a farm, so I was always around animals.
“In terms of inspiration for Britannia, The Royal Mint has a book on the subject and I was constantly referring to it. My favourite Britannia is David Lawrence’s 2018 coin but I am always inspired by past designers too.”