Celebrating the centennial of Agatha Christie’s first published novel, The Royal Mint’s commemorative £2 coin honours the life and career of the Queen of Crime.
With a published writing career that spanned six decades and spawned more than 70 novels, 150 short stories and 30 plays, Agatha Christie can lay claim to the title of bestselling novelist in history. Naturally, summarising such an extraordinary career on a coin is no small feat.
Fortunately, the person handed this lofty task was David Lawrence – the man behind the iconic Britannia coin designs of 2018 and 2019, amongst others. An accomplished artist with more than 35 years of creative experience, David’s own ‘little grey cells’ were more than up for the challenge at hand.
We caught up with David to get a glimpse behind the design and find out just how he went about summarising this cornucopia of crime on the face of a single coin.
“Coin design is often a rather tricky thing – distilling a concept or an idea into one simple all-encompassing image. The Agatha Christie coin was a case in point: a whole genre of mystery, a vast body of work, and a whole host of memorable characters – all to be summed up and squeezed on to one small circle.
“I knew that just one image, scene or character from her work would not do. The coin was about Agatha Christie the person and her incredible creativity – referencing just one element from such a vast body of work would not adequately sum things up.
“The essence of an ‘Agatha Christie’ is the solving of the riddle, resolving the puzzle. Perhaps some form of metaphor could be found and, in the end, I pursued three strands of ideas: designs involving a chessboard, a maze and a jigsaw.
“The idea which was taken to completion, however, was that of the jigsaw. This turned out to be the best metaphor for an Agatha Christie mystery: the story is gradually pieced together but it is not until the final missing piece is dropped into place that the whole picture can be seen.”