As the Griffin of Edward III takes its place alongside the rest of The Queen’s Beasts, we caught up with the coin’s designer Jody Clark. Jody is well known in numismatic circles after becoming one of the youngest designers to have created a definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. This puts Jody in a unique position as his designs can be found on both sides of several new coins, including all of the coins in this collection.
How did The Queen’s Beasts Collection come about?
“It seems like a long time ago now. The Queen’s Beasts Collection came about as any coin design would; it started with an RMAC (Royal Mint Advisory Committee) coin design competition. In order to enter, we had to design two beasts in the series, the lion and the griffin, which turned out to be the creatures that launched and completed the collection. After submission, my design was shortlisted along with a few others. Having got this far, we then had to model the designs ourselves. After a nervous wait to hear back, I finally received the news that they had chosen my designs.”
How did you begin to design The Queen’s Beasts Collection?
“I always start by just hitting the internet and flicking through books, taking a day for reading and gathering reference imagery and inspiration, and looking at what has been done before. Anything to get my mind going, basically. Then, I normally get it all out, have a look through and just start sketching. I like to create a little template of about 12 mini coins and just fill them up with loads of ideas. I like to limit myself and then get sketching. I think you can spend all day doing research – it’s never-ending – but something will come out of those 12 ideas that will make you think it might work well for your design.”
In that research, was there anything in particular that you were looking for?
“There are two approaches, the royal and the heraldic, or the fantastical approach. I wanted my designs to be somewhere in the middle of the two really; something that looked like a real beast rather than just a heraldic image. For the griffin, I continued that balance of fantasy and realism. Given its origins as an invincible treasure guardian and talisman against evil, I wanted the griffin to be powerful and majestic. And seeing that this is a creature that combines the kings of the beasts and the air, I looked at lots of images of real-life lions and eagles to achieve the desired outcome.”
“Given its origins as an invincible treasure guardian and talisman against evil, I wanted the griffin to be powerful and majestic.”
Was there any one thing that was the driving inspiration behind the bold designs?
“I wanted all of the beasts to look strong. This harks back to the use of heraldic symbols on the battlefield as a means to tell friend from foe. If you look at the collection as a whole, you can see strength and fearlessness running through each design. That’s the only clear direction I was trying to follow.”
How does it feel to see all ten beasts side by side?
“It’s great to see all ten coronation beasts standing together just like they did in 1953. I think they look really striking together. It’s a pretty formidable line-up! I hope people have enjoyed collecting them as much as I have enjoyed designing them.”