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the whole currency system was changed, not just the design. Therefore, to ensure there was no confusion amongst members of the public, the decision was taken to include the numerical value as well as the written value. As members of the public are now familiar with the coins, there is not the same need for this amount of clarity as there was 40 years ago.”
A fair point. Prior to decimalisation British coinage had been numeral-free for years, but when such coins were being minted the proportion of people who didn’t speak English as a first language against those who did was miniscule. In this day and age of mass tourism and migration that is no longer the case. So whilst they have a fair point I still wonder at the wisdom of it.
As to why Wales is not represented, the Mint’s response was predicted, and indeed absolutely correct in that: “The Shield of the Royal Arms is symbolic of the whole of the United Kingdom and as such, represents Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland”. Very true—and whilst it was up to the Royal Mint’s Advisory Committee to choose the design, and they could have chosen one that incorporated Wales in a more obvious manner, once they had decided on this concept it isn’t their fault that the Shield of Arms isn’t as representative as all would hope. Maybe it is time for those who feel aggrieved by the absence of Wales on the Shield to take up their case with those who are responsible for the heraldic symbols of the country rather than the Royal Mint!
The final response from the Royal Mint was an intriguing one. I had asked about the £2 and its redesign and also mentioned the ongoing Britannia argument. Somehow the two got mixed up and the response I received was related to a redesign of the £2 coin showing Britannia, which was not something I’d even thought about: “There are currently no plans to redesign the standard reverse of the £2 coin. If a decision was taken to revise the design then it is possible that a Britannia based illustration could be considered”. Remember everyone—you read it here first!
I finished last month’s Editorial by questioning whether these new coins would ever become classics of numismatics. Having thought about it I realise that actually they probably won’t have time to. This redesign has come at what must be the tail end of the Queen’s reign and traditionally with a new monarch comes at least some new coin designs. Few of us, of course, would wish Her Majesty anything but a long life, but sheer logic dictates that it won’t be another 40 years before the Mint has another opportunity to deliver a new set of reverses to go with a new obverse. Alternatively the increasing pressure on us to join the Euro may finally see us abandon sterling altogether. So will it
be new Euro coins that are being designed instead? Either