Behind the Design with Gary Breeze

Categories: Collect

Her Majesty The Queen’s 95th birthday is such a special occasion that two designs have been created for our commemorative coin collection celebrating this royal milestone.

Gary Breeze is a designer and sculptor with a background in letter carving. His works appear in major collections around the United Kingdom, and this is the sculptor’s third project for The Royal Mint. He designed the 50p coin that marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain along with the £2 coin that honoured the famous diarist Samuel Pepys. He also created a design that spanned three £2 coins in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Captain James Cook’s voyage of discovery.

Gary’s coin designs are richly detailed and reveal narratives that you might miss if you don’t look closely.

“I like to make sense of things in my design and add hidden meanings. The original design has been honed at each stage of production to make sure the details work at close scrutiny.”

At a first look, the sculptor’s coin design for The Queen’s 95th birthday is a beautiful, floral arrangement but there are very carefully considered elements. There are nine roses, one for each decade The Queen has lived through, and 54 leaves on the face of the coin, each representing a country of the Commonwealth, one of Her Majesty’s greatest legacies. These tiny details all spring from ‘flourishes’, which are used in heraldry and calligraphy as Gary explains:

“You’ll see it on paper money, official documents, and even royal signatures have shown very elaborate flourishes. Some flourishes reminded me of streamers that might be thrown or seen at parties. The flourishes I designed may look symmetrical at first, but when you look closely there are four intertwining and organic ‘shoots’.”

The design by Gary Breeze can be seen on the gold Proof and silver Proof five-ounce and kilo coins in the collection. The second design was created by calligrapher and heraldic artist Timothy Noad. It features the national floral emblems of the four UK nations gathered in a birthday ‘posy’ for The Queen, and the design can be seen on the two-ounce gold Proof, two-ounce silver Proof, quarter-ounce gold Proof and £5 coins in the collection.

Queen Elizabeth II

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