New Military Coins from The Royal Mint
New Military Coins from The Royal Mint

Meet the Maker – Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games UK 50p Coin

Meet the Maker

Occurring just once every four years, the Commonwealth Games is undoubtedly one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting events in the world. Featuring elite athletes from 72 different nations and territories, the Games is a global stage where athletes can etch their names into sporting history.

For the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the competition returns to England for only the third time in its history and will take place in the city of Birmingham for the very first time. Naturally, such a prestigious sporting event deserves an equally prestigious coin and design in its honour – a task that was carried out by the capable hands of Natasha Preece, one of our product designers.

Having created the reverse design for the Remembrance Day 2020 UK Coin, Natasha is no stranger to designing commemorative coins. We went behind the design with Natasha to find out how this new design came to be and what factors influenced the direction of the design commemorating Birmingham 2022.

Meet the Maker

What excited you most about working on this project?

“Working in The Royal Mint’s Product Design team, a lot of the coins that we model are for other artists. It’s really exciting when you win a design competition as you get to follow your own coin design all the way through the production process. It is really lovely to see my idea go from a drawing on my iPad to a fully struck coin in different metals. I knew this coin would be a memento for a lot of people attending the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games as well as those watching on TV, which made the project all the more exciting.”

Do you have any personal connections to the Commonwealth Games?

“While I don’t have any personal ties to the Commonwealth Games, I have a lot of respect for the athletes and the dedication they have. They spend a lot of their lives training for these events and push their bodies to the limit while competing. One of my favourite events to watch is the gymnastics as I find it fascinating how they look so elegant in the air.”

How did you approach the initial design concept?

“I started by creating a mood board of everything and anything that related to the sporting events at the Commonwealth Games and the city of Birmingham. Once I finished my research, I then moved on to the actual design. I tend to have the ‘rule of three’ when designing; I pick three elements per concept and focus on the layout and how the elements fit best into a 50p shape.

“After creating initial designs, I showed my designs to the Product Design team to get their feedback and opinions. I really enjoy this part of the process, discussing the designs with the team and thinking of ways to make the design stronger. The three elements in this design are the text, the library pattern and the Commonwealth Games emblem.”

Was there anything you knew you wanted to include from the outset?

“From the start of this project, I knew I wanted to include some form of pattern work. I explored using the Bullring, tyre treads, trainer treads and the pattern of the library in the initial designs. I wanted to make sure anyone competing in the Commonwealth Games could look at this coin and feel included. To achieve this, I eliminated using any people or any type of sport that wouldn’t be inclusive of everyone.”

What were the main challenges you found during the design process?

“The main challenge I faced while designing for this competition was how to make a design that reflected all sports involved in the event, all of the different people that competed and all the nations that took part. I wanted to stay away from using a person as the main focus as I wanted my design to be inclusive to everyone, and that would be hard to represent using one person.

“Rather than focusing on any individual sport or person, I decided to use shapes and patterns associated with the Games itself, as well as the city of Birmingham. This allowed me to create a design that represented the whole Commonwealth family and stayed true to the core values of the Games.”

Are there any interesting facts about your design that may not be immediately obvious to coin collectors just from looking at the finished product?

“The overlapping circles represent the Library of Birmingham and borrow from the architecture of the building. The Library of Birmingham was also the location of the countdown clock for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, so this fitted the theme well. Also, the textures used on the Commonwealth ‘V’ shapes are actually a running track texture, with a different intensity used on each to represent different colours.

“Each nation-specific coin also has its own unique privy mark, which presented its own challenges. I had to create them small yet also make them big enough to strike well and still be recognisable (each privy mark is only 0.05mm in height). Placement of the privy mark was also important as I didn’t want to change the balance of the design and wanted to keep it looking as symmetric as possible. Underneath the text is where each privy mark looked the best as a set.”

How was the overall experience designing a coin for such an iconic sporting event?

“We have a range of design competitions throughout the year at The Royal Mint but this was a competition that I really wanted to enter and be a part of. I’m thrilled my design won the competition and I’m hoping it will be an iconic coin that people keep as a memento of the Commonwealth Games.”

How did this process differ from that of the previous coin you designed?

“The Remembrance Day coin I designed in 2020 was for a round £5 piece, which was 38.61mm in diameter. This design was for a seven-sided 50p shape with a 27.3mm diameter, which meant that I had a smaller space to work within. When designing for a 50p coin, it’s also good to think about how it’s going to be manufactured from the start. Creating a balanced design will help during the striking process and make it easier to get a crisp edge made on the coin.

“Part of my role at The Royal Mint is also to make sure coins are fit for the manufacturing process and knowing that the coin was going to be a 50p shape was important for the overall design. While making the 3D model I had to consider that edges for the 50p tend to be harder to strike, therefore keeping relief heights low towards the edge really helped this design be successfully struck.”

What are your thoughts on the finished product?

“When I was designing this coin I was thinking about which areas of the design were going to be polished and frosted; I feel the library pattern on the coin creates beautiful areas of frosting and polishing. I’m really happy with the final outcome of the coin.

“This is my second winning design through the RMAC [The Royal Mint Advisory Committee] competition and I’m really pleased with how it has turned out. I am to looking forward to buying one to sit on my shelf next to my Remembrance Day coin!”


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