Good news. Britain is getting new designs on its coins, which could be a sign that the Government has decided never to adopt the Euro.

From The Times -

Picture the future of British money

By Alan Hamilton

Coins are about to get a makeover and the Royal Mint is offering hard cash for new designs

THE Royal Mint is inviting the public to submit designs for British coins.

The competition comes more than thirty years after decimalisation transformed the coinage, much of which has kept the same design throughout four decades of shrivelling value.

Now the Mint is soliciting designs for the reverse of our loose change that reflect modern Britain and is offering prizes of up to £30,000.

There will be no tampering with the obverse; the Queen, now in the fourth coinage portrait of her reign, will remain on the topside, protected by her D.G., her Reg and her F.D. She will have to approve any designs, as will Gordon Brown, the Chancellor.

Gerald Sheehan, the chief executive of the Royal Mint, said: “Although we use coins every day and we often take them and their designs for granted, it is fascinating how strongly people feel about the coinage and how integral it is to our history.”

Coins have been minted in Britain since the 1st century BC, and have been in more or less continuous production since the time of Alfred the Great in the 9th century.

The 1p coin, now so worthless that it is made from mild steel and is magnetic, has had a portcullis on its reverse since decimalisation in 1971. Similarly the 2p still has its Prince of Wales feathers, the 5p its Scottish thistle, the 10p its English lion and the 20p its rose.

Higher denominations have been more adventurous. The 50p has had a succession of commemorative reverses, from the nine clasped hands to mark Britain’s joining Europe in 1973, through the anniversaries of the D-Day landings, the founding of the NHS, public libraries and the suffragette movement, to this year’s issue marking the 250th anniversary of Dr Johnson’s dictionary.

The £1 coin is into bridges: last year it showed the Forth Bridge in Scotland; now it is the Menai Suspension Bridge in Wales.

This year’s £2 coin is celebrating the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. In past years its designs have marked the Rugby World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the invention of wireless and the discovery of DNA.

At the top of the range, the £5 coin, not often seen in purse or trouser pocket, has generally commemorated royal anniveraries such as the 100th birthday of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, although its two most recent issues have recalled the Entente Cordiale and the Battle of Trafalgar.

Monarchs have always remained above such passing fashions and have appeared on the obverse since the reign of Charles II, with each successive monarch facing in a different direction. On modern coins the Queen looks to the right.

Anti-European campaigners took yesterday’s announcement of new designs as a sign that plans for Britain to switch to the euro had been put on hold. Neil O’Brien, of the Vote No campaign, said yesterday: “I don’t think anybody believes there is any prospect of us joining the euro in the foreseeable future; today’s announcement shows institutions are planning on that basis.”

His optimisim was immediately quashed by the Treasury, which said that the design competition did not indicate any change in Britain’s position on the single currency.


Marco Pierre White, chef

“The next set of coins should revert to some of the traditional images used to decorate coins before decimalisation: the thistle, the lion, or Britannia, bearing a sceptre and shield. I am on the European Continent as we speak, and the Mickey Mouse money used over here, and its nondescript symbols, should be avoided at all costs.”

Antony Gormley, sculptor

“I would design an organically shaped coin — certainly not round and preferably not symmetrical — so that it represents the complexities of modern Britain. If I was in charge of the project, I would ask six of Britain’s greatest living artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Anish Kapoor, and the Chapman brothers to come up with their designs. They have reflected modern Britain with their work and could do so again on the next set of Britain’s coins.”

Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health

“I would wish to represent Britain’s success in bringing the 2012 Olympics to Britain. It could be the Olympic rings or competing athletes.”

Lord Winston, fertility expert

“I am not sure that the monarch’s head should be used on Britain’s coins any more. They seem to have got rid of that particular design from other nations’ coins. A new design should incorporate an image of a child to reflect our hopes for the future.”