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New Military Coins from The Royal Mint
ENGRAVED IN HISTORY
New Military Coins from The Royal Mint
ENGRAVED IN HISTORY

Meet the Maker Thomas T. Docherty

Meet the Maker

Every royal birthday is a special occasion and The Royal Mint has marked many of them with beautifully crafted coins over the years – from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales’ 50th birthday in 1998 to Her Majesty The Queen’s milestone 95th birthday in 2021. Now it is His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge’s turn, as we celebrate his 40th birthday on a UK £5 coin in 2022.

Thomas T. Docherty, a product designer at The Royal Mint, has captured His Royal Highness in a candid pose of determination, gazing ahead to the future. While this isn’t the first time one of Thomas’ designs has featured on a coin, it is the first time he has designed a solo portrait. We caught up with Thomas to get his thoughts on the design and his creative process.

After receiving the submission invite, what were you most looking forward to about this project?

“When I heard the coin was announced, I instantly knew that I wanted to submit a design for it. I’ve never submitted a design for a portrait before, although I’ve always wanted to. I’ve been at The Royal Mint for 17 years now but even only a few years ago, I wouldn’t have felt entirely comfortable with tackling a portrait of this magnitude. The opportunities to submit designs for portraits have arisen throughout my career but I’ve never had the confidence to tackle them.

Meet the Maker

However, in the last four years or so, I’ve developed and honed my sculpting skills, so when the opportunity arrived for this coin, I knew I wanted to submit an entry; I felt ready for it.”

How did you approach the initial concept?

“I knew how I wanted to portray His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge from the outset; I wanted to create a fresh, stylized and dynamic image. I didn’t want it to be this kind of tight, precise or polished model. I wanted to give the design an element of life and movement so utilised a more sculptural approach, which would help capture His Royal Highness in this candid and authentic pose.

“It was actually a stroke of luck that the image we were given to base our designs on was one I had already chosen during my research, which made me more excited to be involved in the project. A lot of the images I researched had this similar head tilt and angle to the face, which created an aura of pride and nobility. A three-quarter angle always felt like it would create a more dynamic portrait rather than a traditional side-on profile.”

Did your preparation for this coin differ to your preparation for the other coins you have designed for The Royal Mint?

“I’ve worked on several designs involving British royalty in the past but the portraiture has always been a more minor element of the design and sculpt. For example, some coins I worked on for royal continuity series featured Her Majesty The Queen in certain environments or meeting other people – compositions where her face wasn’t the focus of the design.

“With the key element of this coin being a portrait of The Duke of Cambridge, the skills required to execute through to a coinage sculpt are more advanced. It was really important my design and model were accurate to ensure I captured the form and details correctly.”

Having recently turned 40 yourself, did this have an influence or bearing on the design?

“I suppose it helped slightly as, even though our lives are obviously a million miles apart, I understand how it feels to have just turned 40 and to have a young family of my own, so I wanted to ensure I captured His Royal Highness accurately at this stage in his life.

“The design was then all about striking a balance between this fresh energy of His Royal Highness being a young dad with the ceremonial nature of his royal position. That’s where the portrait and the pose he’s striking helped me convey an element of dynamism within the design, whilst retaining his royal stature.” 

Meet the Maker

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

“The design was almost the easiest part, as I knew exactly how I wanted it to look from the outset. The main challenge for me was the sculpting of the design. You’re essentially going from a 2D drawing to a 3D model so it was more challenging to get the feel that I created in the original painting. I used certain clay sculpting tools and techniques; this helped me achieve the style needed for the design to translate effectively into three dimensions.”

Has technology had a big impact on coin design and modelling in your experience?

“These days I work almost entirely digitally using a tablet and a pen, instead of steel tools and plaster casts to create the models. The technology has certainly changed but in a positive way, as we can now produce designs with better efficiency compared to when I began my career 17 years ago. The tools we currently use might be different but the principles remain the same, as there’s still a high level of skill and craftsmanship needed to sculpt designs to models.”

What are your thoughts on the fact that this is the first coin in His Royal Highness’ numismatic legacy?

“It’s incredibly exciting and I’m extremely proud to have designed the first coin to feature a solo portrait of His Royal Highness. I’d never really considered that this would mark the start of his numismatic legacy, so that’s something really special to have been involved in. It will be interesting to look back in years to come to see how the coinage has evolved along with The Duke of Cambridge’s role, especially since he is in line to one day become king. Reflecting on the coin in that sense makes me incredibly proud to be a part of history.”

The 40th Birthday of HRH The Duke of Cambridge

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