Summer has arrived and what better time to explore the nation’s proud heritage and achievements. Here at The Royal Mint, we’re celebrating icons – past and present – who make us proud and whose legacies live on long after their achievements.
We’ll be highlighting British people from literary legends to pioneers of science, as well as the sporting greats who will make up Team GB in 2021. Find out more about these iconic figures and how we’ve captured their stories on coins.
Born in Kent in 1866, Herbert George Wells, more commonly known as H.G. Wells was a novelist, journalist, sociologist and historian best known for his science fiction novels such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds.
From humble beginnings, he found solace in reading and learning. Drawn into the world of science, he went on to both amaze and unsettle the world with his uncannily accurate predictions of how the world might look in the future. His fascination with scientific progress and his observations on society were revolutionary, inventive and way ahead of his time.
His ability to make science fiction believable brought his work and the genre to a whole new audience, earning him nicknames such as the ‘father of science fiction’.
Chris Costello’s reverse design focuses on iconic images from Wells’ work, including The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man.
Sir Walter Scott
Born in Edinburgh in 1771, Sir Walter Scott is regarded as one of the most influential Scots in history. As a child, Scott was sent to the countryside to help him recover from a bout of polio and it was during his time there that he first heard the folklore and poetry that would inspire his later works.
Weaving together traditional stories and reimagining them, Scott captured the spirit of Scotland. Renowned for his contribution to literature with poems and novels, including titles such as Waverley, Rob Roy and The Lady of the Lake, his works remain literary classics to this day and his impact can also be felt in our modern English language. Fond of adapting colloquial phrases, many of the unique expressions we use in English come from Scott’s works, including ‘caught red-handed’, ‘cold shoulder’, ‘blood is thicker than water’ and ‘tongue in cheek’.
The artist Stephen Raw has captured Scott in a portrait alongside lettering inspired by monuments to the writer.
Born in 1799, Mary Anning spent her entire life in the small seaside town of Dorset where fossil hunting became a popular pastime for fashionable Georgians. Essential to the development of a new science called palaeontology, Mary was aged only around 12 or 13 when she found the first articulated skeleton of an ichthyosaur, a type of marine reptile that once roamed Jurassic seas.
In 1823, she unearthed the first complete plesiosaur skeleton, which initially baffled scientists because of its abnormally long neck. Five years later, she discovered the first pterosaur skeleton in England, a winged reptile that once filled coastal skies.
Palaeo-artist Robert Nicholls has recreated three of Mary Anning’s most significant discoveries – the Temnodontosaurus, Plesiosaurus and Dimorphodon – in his designs for a three-coin series that features the dinosaurs in full as well as an element of their fossilised forms.
John Logie Baird
Known the world over as ‘The Father of Television’, John Logie Baird’s contributions to the world of technology cannot be understated. Baird was the first person to publicly demonstrate television and his groundbreaking exploration into moving images paved the way for a revolutionary invention in 1925 that changed the world as we know it.
When it comes to inventions of the last century, television is arguably one of the most significant innovations of the twentieth century and its impact is still being felt to this very day, supplying news and information to the masses, bringing joy and entertainment to billions, and bringing people together all around the world.
The design agency Osborne Ross has celebrated the inventor and his creation with a design that captures the key milestones in his life, which are presented in the form of lines of transmission radiating from a central point.
Team GB 2021
With the world’s gaze fixed firmly on Japan this summer, the athletes of Team GB finally get to chase their dreams in Tokyo as we cheer them on back home. Since the first modern Games in 1896, men and women from across Great Britain and Northern Ireland have strived for gold in the greatest sporting competition in the world.
Ahead of the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo, Team GB looked set to continue their winning ways in 2020 but due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Games had to be completely postponed for the first time in the history of the Olympic Games. Despite the rescheduling, the elite athletes of Team GB continue to push boundaries and maintain peak performance in the hopes of making history when the Games return this summer.