In 2020 we are celebrating 007 with our new James Bond Collection, featuring a range of three coins with interconnecting designs, an Inspired Innovation range, which include micro-text and a hidden message, and Special Issue editions. Our ultimate tribute to James Bond is our Special Issue coin which has been created by Royal Mint designer Laura Clancy. Laura is a huge Bond fan and enjoyed the opportunity to create a coin design for this series.
Q: Where did you grow up and study?
“I grew up and went to school in Cardiff. My family were very creative – painting, sewing, woodworking, model-making – there was always something being made. It was lovely to be encouraged in this way. After ‘A’ levels I went to the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, for an Art Foundation course. This was fantastic: I loved that I could draw, design and make all day – very inspirational. For my degree, I studied 3D Crafts at the University of Brighton. It was very hands-on and we learned about materials (wood, metal, ceramic, plastics) and techniques to craft it. Creativity and a professional finish were equally important. I specialised in metal and plastics and the skills I learned at Brighton have given me the foundation for my work today.”
Q: How long have you worked at The Royal Mint?
“It’s been 14 years; I began as a trainee engraver, learning the craft. We would learn to cut straight lines into metal, then curves, then shapes. After two years training we progressed to working on the tools used to create the coins. When I started the job, much of our modelling was done traditionally, with hand tools using clay and plaster. Now, much is done on a computer.
“Technology has added new possibilities to coin design and brought a freedom to the job – using Computer-aided Design (CAD) we can innovate. This development of technology and the variety of projects we work on is what makes the job so interesting. I am hugely proud to say I work for The Royal Mint.”
Q: What other coins have you designed?
“The first United Kingdom coin competition I won, the Portrait of Britain, was working with a colleague. We visited famous British landmarks: Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, the White Cliffs of Dover and Blackpool Tower, to name a few. We took lots of photographs, made sketches and then developed our ideas into coins. The coins in the series featured colour printing and we developed our own way of printing on to the coins to give a subtle, painterly quality.
“Some years ago, all The Royal Mint product designers went on a trip to France and Belgium. We visited war memorials, battle sites, graves and museums; it made everything so real and emotional. This trip inspired me and I designed the 2018 UK Remembrance coin featuring a large poppy, printed in rich shades or red, cropped to the circle of the coin.”
Q: How does this coin differ from the others you have designed?
“Designing James Bond coins has been a totally different experience as it is such a different subject matter. We were briefed that the look had to be contemporary, inspired by the films of the modern era, reflecting the clean, neat and paired back styling, and we have worked with EON Productions throughout the process.”
Q: How did you go about designing this coin? What did you do to research?
“I am so excited to have designed the James Bond Special Issue coins. I love Bond films and always have; I grew up watching these films. When I was at university I wanted to write my dissertation about Bond and since I’ve been working for The Royal Mint I’ve hoped this subject would be featured on a coin. When it came to designing one coin, the challenge wasn’t how to research but how to capture all my thoughts and excitement for the subject into one viewpoint.”
Q: What was your inspiration for this coin?
“There were so many things I could have tried to fit into my design but I wanted to go big with two or three key elements. The gun barrel symbol is iconic and shown in all the films – I felt this had to be a big part of the design. The DB5 means so much in the films – it has style, speed, gadgets … everything that Bond needs.
I sketched different viewpoints and ways of combining these elements. My family and I were driving along the motorway and my husband said, “Look behind us right now! Look at what is following us!” A perfect, silver grey, Aston Martin DB5. I do not think I have ever seen one of those cars on the road before – totally amazing. I took some fuzzy pictures and hoped it was a sign my ideas were developing well!”
Q: What did you want your design to communicate?
“It would be great if people looked at my design and got a little bit of the same tingle I get when I see the opening sequence of a Bond film. Bond is a combination of thrills and style – I think the gun barrel and DB5 are synonymous with that. I hope my design reflects these ideas and appeals to coin fans and Bond fans.”
Q: What were your biggest challenges for this coin?
“The biggest challenge for me was the size of this coin and the range of sizes – a seven-kilo coin is the biggest we have ever made. Designing something to work on a 50mm diameter coin with 0.3mm of relief is totally different to designing at 185mm diameter, with about 5mm of relief. The level of detail we could achieve on the car was amazing.
“To achieve this range of coins, we have used the latest laser technology, contemporary milling techniques and traditional hand skills of craftspeople. This is a project that has involved a team of people to deliver the product and taken lots of hours to develop. The opportunity to design and make coins to celebrate James Bond is a career high. Now the coins have been made and the coins are ready, I am thrilled.”
Laura’s Special Issue design is available now, struck on a range of special editions in extremely limited numbers. View the full collection or find out more about the quintessential British spy by visiting royalmint.com/jamesbond.