The Royal Mint has released (13th September) their latest commemorative coins which are part of the ongoing series entitled “Innovation in Science” focusing on British inventors and visionaries in technology that had significant impacts in their field of expertise. The fourth coin in the series highlights the life and contributions of Charles Babbage (1791–1871), who was a noted contributor to the world of science and mathematics and is remembered as a lifelong inventor who believed that scientific advancement should benefit everyone.
Success soon followed. By 1822 he had built a small calculating machine, or difference engine, that could solve complex equations. The difference engine (and later devised analytical engine) had many essential features found in modern digital computers. Seeking to construct and manufacture a practical and working model of his difference engine, Babbage secured an initial government grant of £1,500 to build a larger machine. Work in 1823, but progress was slow and expensive, and by 1834, work came to a halt. Finally, in 1842, the government decided to abandon the project altogether without seeing any return on its investment. Babbage too was left out of pocket, spending £6,000 of his own money into the failed venture. His legacy with this venture was that the machines he invented were in later years to be regarded as prototype computers which are now part of the modern age.
Designed by Nigel Tudman and Jas Bhamra, their inspiration for the reverse motif is derived from his difference engines. Using a geometric modernist typeface and incorporating the horizontal and vertical bars and numbers from the original machine, the design reflects the movement and flow of the calculations in motion, adding the extra twist of encoding Babbage’s name into numerals.
The obverse bears the fifth definitive effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II designed by engraver Jody Clark and seen on all British circulation and commemorative coinage since 2015. The denomination 50 PENCE is part of the legend encircling the Queen’s likeness.
The coins are issued on the 230th anniversary of his birth as well as the 150th anniversary of his death. The Brilliant Uncirculated cupro-nickel coins are housed in a blister-pak type folder with informative text and illustrations. The sterling silver Proof coins are presented in a custom black vinyl case and the gold Proof coins are presented in a polished hardwood case. Both are accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity. For additional information about the Charles Babbage anniversary coins, please visit the website of the Royal Mint.