The Royal Mint have launched a special coin which remembers the centennial birthday anniversary of Sir Christopher Ironside, (1913 – 1992) the talented artist whose designs graced British coinage for more than four decades up to and after the UK’s transition to a decimal currency in 1971.
The United Kingdom had thought about introducing a coinage and currency based upon a decimal system instead of the Pounds, shillings, pence system in place for more than 400 years. The Treasury attempted to introduce this idea as far back as the 1840’s when a two shilling coin or, a tenth of a pound denomination was introduced for the first time. The idea took more than another hundred years to take root and during the early 1960’s, plans were underway to do just this, replace the older system with a new currency based on 100 pence to the pound.
Sir Christopher Ironside was commissioned to come up with new designs for the planned denominations which included a twenty pence coin and the possibility of a 2 ½ pence coin which would have transitioned from the old six-pence coin. Ironside’s work and designs were carried out in total secrecy until they were unveiled and produced in 1968 and the first of the “new” pence coins went into circulation – three years before the official change-over to the new system. In total, Ironside’s designs were included on the new ½ penny, one penny, two pence, five pence, ten pence and fifty pence coins, all with the prefix “new” before the word penny or pence. The word “new” was finally removed in 1982 and the first decimal designs were eventually changed in 2008. Ironsides designs were used for one of the longest periods during the single reign of a British Monarch since the time of Queen Victoria.
The new commemorative coin includes a heraldic design which was first rejected in favor of Ironside’s depiction of a seated Britannia with shield. The Britannia design was preferred as it had been a tradition for Britannia to be included on circulation coinage since the reign of Charles II and was utilized for the fifty pence denomination. In honour of Ironside’s birth centennial, his Royal Arms – a design admired but never used – finally appears on a UK 50p coin. Faithfully reproduced in its original form, the coin used the designation NEW PENCE above the crest but this has been amended to FIFTY PENCE for 2013.
The obverse includes the effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II designed by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS and in use on British & Commonwealth circulation and commemorative coinage since 1998. The year of issue, “2013” appears on the obverse.
Struck to FDC quality, the seven-sided coin is minted in cupro-nickel and weighs 8 grams with a diameter of 27.3 mm. This coin will also be struck in precious metals of Gold and silver later in the year and will be available at that time. For more information on this new coin and others produced for 2013, please visit the website of the Royal Mint at: www.royalmint.com International orders fulfilled.