Where did the edge inscription 'standing on the shoulders of giants' come from?

The design on the reverse of the £2 coin traces the story of technological development with four concentric circles representing from inner to outer, the Iron Age, the Industrial Revolution, the Computer Age and the Internet.

The edge inscription complements this theme, being taken from a letter written in 1676 by Sir Isaac Newton to his fellow-scientist Robert Hooke, acknowledging the debt he owed to other scientists: 

'if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'.

This quotation, stressing that today's achievements would not be possible without the discoveries of the past, was felt to sum up the spirit of the reverse design. Since Sir Isaac Newton was himself Master of the Royal Mint, from 1699 to 1727, the choice of the quotation seemed particularly appropriate.

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