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

The Snowman™: A Magical Journey on Coins

When a little boy wakes up to find the world has turned white with snow, he rushes outside to build a snowman – complete with a green hat and scarf, coal for buttons and eyes, and a tangerine for a nose. That night, when the clock strikes midnight, magic ensues, and the snowman comes to life. Together, the little boy and the snowman embark on an enchanting adventure in which they soar high through the sky. The next morning, the boy wakes to find the scarf, hat, coal and tangerine in a heap on the floor, as the magic has melted away.

This beloved winter’s tale from Raymond Briggs has become synonymous with Christmas in Britain and we have celebrated The Snowman on a UK 50p coin since 2018. Selling 15,000 silver Proof coins on the first launch day, which equates to an average of one every two seconds, the new editions of this popular coin have returned each year as The Royal Mint’s official festive coin.

A Master of his Craft

First published in 1978 as a wordless picture book, The Snowman has since sold 5.5 million copies worldwide. Briggs’ skilful pencil illustrations embellish the story with a magical aura, enchanting the reader and drawing them into a snowy world filled with wonder.

“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snow I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day … and it was on that day I made The Snowman.”

Raymond Briggs, describing his inspiration for the story

The book inspired an animated short film that was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 26 December 1982. Adding to the story’s association with Christmas, it has aired annually ever since, although Briggs never intended for it to become a festive tale but instead for its message to be about the transience of life. The Snowman’s creator sadly passed away in August 2022 at the age of 88, but generations will continue to love his beloved tale about friendship and loss for Christmases to come.

Reimagining a Classic

Whilst paying homage to the hazy, nostalgic style of Briggs’ pencilled drawings, the award-winning illustrator Robin Shaw has so far created designs for three of the coins in The Snowman series. In a previous interview with the illustrator, he explained the animated film adaption of the story inspired his creative career:

“The Snowman was something I saw as a child and entranced me. I looked at the book and saw the film and thought ‘That’s what I want to do!’ To be entrusted with Raymond Briggs’s most enduring creation continues to be an incredible honour and joy.”

The Snowman™ and The Snowdog

The 1982 film adaption of The Snowman was incredibly successful, earning a BAFTA for Best Children’s Programme in 1983, as well as an Academy Award® nomination for Best Short Film. Three decades later, The Snowman™ and The Snowdog, a sequel to the original film, was released. Made with Briggs’ blessing, the story revolves around a boy called Billy who discovers a snowman-building kit on Christmas Eve. He builds a snowman and decides to make a little snowdog with the leftover snow. Just like the original story, the two come to life when the clock strikes midnight and the boy joins them on a magical adventure. Robin Shaw served as assistant director on the award-winning film and, in 2022, produced the design for our coin commemorating the ten-year anniversary of its release.

A Festive First

The latest Christmas coin celebrating The Snowman marks a poignant moment in the series, as it is the first to feature the official coinage portrait of His Majesty King Charles III. Created by British sculptor Martin Jennings, the portrait of His Majesty The King adheres to tradition and shows the new monarch facing in the opposite direction to that of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, in her coinage portraits.


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