2024 Annual Sets

Britannia and Liberty: Unifying National Icons

Representing fortitude and freedom, Britannia and Liberty are enduring symbols of two proud nations, the United Kingdom and the United States. The virtues these female figures embody underpin each country’s national identity.

Although they have both been honoured on coins and medals individually, they have never featured together on UK and US coins. Uniting the skills of each mint’s Chief Engraver, a groundbreaking partnership between The Royal Mint and the United States Mint has resulted in a reverse design that features Britannia and Liberty in harmony, symbolising the special relationship between the UK and the US.

A Special Relationship

Sir Winston Churchill coined the phrase ‘a special relationship’ in a speech made in Fulton, Missouri, in March 1946. The UK and the US have a shared cultural identity and history, as well as being closely allied in foreign policy. The mints of each nation also maintain a proud history and heritage. The Royal Mint was established in the 880s, during the reign of Alfred the Great and, although younger than its transatlantic counterpart, the United States Mint was established more than 200 years ago in 1792. However, this is the first time the Chief Engravers of each of these mints have collaborated to create a coin design, and it is the first time the national symbols of Britannia and Liberty have appeared together on a coin.


The Romans would often create female deities to represent their conquered territories, including Gallia, Dacia, Provincia, Africa and, of course, Britannia. The figure has served as the female personification of Britain for millennia, embodying the virtues of fortitude and resilience. Britannia has been utilised through the centuries to establish British maritime strength, inspiring resilience during wartime and even in the craft industry, where a certain ‘Britannia’ metal was made as a mark of strength and reliability. The deity has been a mainstay of UK coins since the reign of Charles II, appearing on the reverse of at least some coins of each ensuing British monarch.


Set forth in the Declaration of Independence, freedom is one of the founding principles upon which the US was formed and remains a core value of the American people. The United States Mint has paid tribute to the figure on coins and medals, portraying liberty through many guises but most commonly in a female form. One of the most popular and well-known physical interpretations of the principle is the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the US in 1886, which stands tall in Upper New York Bay.

Masters of Their Craft

In what is a numismatic first, Gordon Summers of The Royal Mint and Joseph Menna of the United States Mint have combined their experience as Chief Engravers to produce a design that unifies Britannia and Liberty, embodying the spirit of unity and cooperation between the UK and the US. Inspired by the concept of court cards, Britannia and Liberty hold equal prominence in the design, which encourages a level of interaction as the coin must be rotated to view each figure.

Gordon Summers studied maths, physics and chemistry before deciding on a more creative career path. He trained as a jeweller then, after completing his degree, he became involved in competitions designing medals for The Royal Mint. Joining the organisation as a trainee more than 30 years ago, his adroit engraving talent and technical nous eventually earned him the position of Chief Engraver, the role he still holds today.

Regarded as one of the world’s leading practitioners of digital sculpture, Joseph Menna holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the University of the Arts, a Master of Fine Arts degree in sculpture from the New York Academy of Art and completed his post-graduate study at the Saint Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design in St. Petersburg, Russia. Menna joined the US Mint in 2005 and in February 2019, he became the mint’s 14th Chief Engraver. Possessing both digital and traditional skillsets, he created the world’s first digitally sculpted coin in 2007 – the James Monroe Presidential Dollar Obverse.

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