Celebrating the Year of the Dog
The Royal Mint’s Shengxiào Collection celebrates the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, or Shengxiào, and their distinctive characteristics and qualities. The fifth release in the collection celebrates the sign of the dog.
Just as a dog is seen as a faithful companion, people born in the Year of the Dog are believed to be true friends. Typically, they are honest, kind and dependable.
Due to their loyal personality, those born in the Year of the Dog often work in jobs that involve helping others. They are popular in the workplace as they are easy-going and happy to lighten the load of those around them. While they can jump to conclusions, they tend to be intuitive and caring.
In 2014 The Royal Mint united these British and Chinese traditions to create the first official UK Lunar coins. The Shēngxiào Collection, named after the Chinese zodiac, is based upon 12 animals that have their own unique characteristics and qualities.
East Meets West
If you were to search for ‘Shēngxiào’ on the internet you would find The Royal Mint’s range of lunar coins.
Coins have been produced in the Far East in some form or another for thousands of years, just like they have in Britain. Both cultures have traditionally used coins in celebrations and family events, and while these customs date back over centuries, a new generation are embracing the ancient practices in a modern way.
In the United Kingdom coins are often the gift of choice for a special occasion. Brides traditionally tuck a sixpence into their shoe for good luck, and silver gifts are given to newborns and at christenings – inspired by the centuries-old custom of giving silver coins to a baby for good luck.
A Growing Relationship
The Royal Mint’s Shēngxiào Collection combines British minting craftsmanship with centuries-old Chinese traditions. Over the last five years Wuon-Gean Ho has worked with The Royal Mint’s Coin Design team to ensure this unique fusion is captured to full effect on the small-scale surface of a coin.
Although Wuon-Gean works in several mediums and has a wealth of design experience, working within the confines of a coin was a new challenge but one she enjoyed:
“It was a new concept for me to work to this circle and work around lettering that was curved, the natural movement, I loved it! It’s a huge eye opener to see the complex stages a design will go through in order to become a finished coin."
The artist has worked with several members of the Coin Design team but for the last two coins, celebrating the Year of the Rooster and Year of the Dog, she has worked closely with Kerry Davies who joined The Royal Mint in 2002.
Kerry has advised Wuon-Gean on the design considerations that are unique to coins, sometimes spending whole days with her to perfect a design.
“Wuon-Gean’s work, like her lino prints, is normally two-dimensional. Working with coins as a canvas, you have to consider three dimensions and the relief and round shape of the coin. She has a unique style and adds elements to tell a hidden story, like the Marsh Daisies on the Rooster coin. We talked about simplifying these details – making them as clean and clear as possible to make sure they translate well but are still true to the original design when they are finally struck." - Kerry Davies
Wuon-Gean has valued the advice she has received throughout the series, and recognises the skill that goes into creating every coin The Royal Mint produces.
“It’s been wonderful working with the craftsmen at The Royal Mint. I’m incredibly impressed and humbled at the amount of technical mastery and knowledge that they have.”