Disney’s Winnie the Pooh first wandered onto a UK 50p coin in 2020 – we have seen Christopher Robin, Piglet, Owl and Tigger alongside one that has featured the friends gathered together. Two years later, the popular collection ends with Eeyore, Kanga and Roo and a coin featuring Winnie the Pooh and some of his closest friends gathered in the Hundred Acre Wood.
Dan Thorne, a member of The Royal Mint’s Product Design team, has worked on all nine coins in the collection. Here, he takes us back to the beginning of the project and explains the creative process for the final designs.
“It all started with the project manager; they wrote the brief for me and sourced the assets from Disney. We were fortunate in the beginning in that we had a surplus of assets to choose from – basically, every illustration from the classic Winnie the Pooh stories.
“I started off by gathering all the assets I thought could work within the parameters of a 50p and began to lay them out. We had lots of different designs – around 50 in total – as well as variations on those designs, so the next step was to cut these down and refine them. We shared the designs with project managers to get their feedback and to get a feel for what people found appealing.
“Once that process was finessed, we repeated it until we landed on the final designs for each coin.”
A. A. Milne’s tales about Pooh Bear and the adventures he and his loyal group of friends share in the Hundred Acre Wood are truly timeless and Dan kept the entire collection on his desk during the project, so he could draw upon them for inspiration:
“I was surprised at how much I enjoyed reading through the stories on my lunch break and how much I remembered from when my nana used to read to me when I was little.”
When asked what coin he was most proud to work on, he told us:
“The first solo Winnie the Pooh design was my favourite because that’s where I had the idea of the bee being involved in all the designs – tying them all together.”
Dan was pleased with the final designs that appeared on the coins although the process did pose some challenges:
“It’s always a challenge to keep the scale of a coin in mind when designing them because you’re so used to seeing the design at a larger scale. It’s always a pleasant experience when the design ends up coming out nicely at the final stage. I think the original illustrations by E. H. Shephard lend themselves really nicely to being on coinage.
“It’s been a great experience; it was actually the first project I worked on when I started at The Royal Mint a couple of years ago. I’ve learned a lot since then so it’s nice to look back and think about what it was like when I first started here.”
©Disney. Based on the “Winnie the Pooh” works by A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard.