On October 3, the Royal Mint launched a new coin that contributes to a year of festivities and remembrance in honor of one of the world’s most celebrated English authors and playwrights. More than four centuries after they were written, the works of William Shakespeare continue to entertain, surprise, and bemuse readers with their wit, humor, sarcasm, and intrigue.
The new coin, a commemorative £50 silver Proof piece, marks the 400th anniversary of the wordsmith’s death. It is also the grand finale in the Royal Mint’s 2016 circulating and commemorative coin series celebrating the life and works of the playwright. (For more about the year’s events, click here. Scroll down for more about the Bard and the Royal Mint’s particular connection to his works.)
Designed by renowned sculptor and coin designer John Bergdahl, the reverse features theater’s comedy and tragedy masks to represent the range of themes covered by Shakespeare.
The obverse depicts the fifth effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II as created by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark and used on all circulating and many collector and commemorative British coins since 2015.
|.999 silver||31.1 g||34 mm||Select Bullion||
The silver select bullion strike £50 Shakespeare coin is presented in a colorful folder that allows easy access to the coin. A three-piece set of £2 coins was issued earlier this year in celebration of this event; the new £50 coin’s reverse design is adapted from one of these coins. The £2 coins are issued in both base-metal and precious-metal versions. For more information on this coin and others on offer from the Royal Mint, please visit their website. International orders dispatched where applicable.
William Shakespeare (1564–1616) . . .
. . . is quintessentially and irrevocably associated with the enlightened Elizabethan era. He has been a stalwart fixture in every English-class curriculum in those countries that use the English language; his plays have been continually staged for the last 400-plus years around the world and have been translated in many different languages and adapted for a wide variety of cultures.
The Royal Mint in particular have connection to the man of words and literature, who frequently referenced their coins. Royal Mint coins such as the halfpenny, farthing, and noble have all taken their turn on the Shakespearean stage, in plays that include Much Ado About Nothing, The Merchant of Venice, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Very few institutions or organizations can boast of such a connection with the great writer. And as if the mere mention of the Mint’s coins were not cause enough to hold one’s head up high, one-time Master of the Mint, the nobleman William Hastings, appeared in Henry VI and Richard III (in the latter, Shakespeare tells of his unfortunate demise).