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Startling New British Coins

By April 3, 2008

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New British CoinsGreat Britain's Royal Mint is updating the nation's coinage in a most surprising way. Although the new coins will retain the same sizes, weights, and metallic compositions, they are getting a startling face lift. The new coins, designed by Matthew Dent, feature traditional British and royal heraldry designs, but executed in a very 21st century way. Each coin bears a portion of an overall main design, which form a shield bearing the Royal Arms of Great Britain. If you look at the photo carefully, you will see that each coin has a portion of this overall shield on it!

The new designs, which are the first major overhaul of British coinage since the Brits went on the decimal monetary system 40 years ago, are the result of a nationwide open design competition. Dent, a professional graphic artist who is 26, swept the competition with his clever shield arrangement. And although the intention was to redesign only the minor coinage, (the Penny through the 50 Pence,) Mint authorities decided the include the 1 coin as well. The 1 (not shown) bears the entire shield design on its reverse. All of the new designs, like all British coins, bear the standard portrait of the Queen on the obverse.

The Royal Mint has set up a special section of its Web site to introduce the new coins. Here are a few highlights: You can also visit the main Royal Mint Web site to see what else is going on in British coinage these days. If you like these cool new coins as much as I do, you can buy a limited-edition Proof Set of them on the Royal Mint's Web site. Mintage is limited to a mere 20,000 so you'd better hurry if you want one. I just ordered both a Proof Set and an Uncirculated Set (mintage limit 100,000 sets) in the Base Metal option, although they have some pricey precious metal options available, too.

Photo courtesy of the British Royal Mint. Special thanks to Scott P. Richert, the About.com Guide to Catholicism, and Scott Purvis at CoinLink News, both of whom made me aware of this new issue simultaneously. (I was reading Scott P.'s wonderful numismatic news roundup when the email came in from Scott R. As they say in Britain, "great Scott!" =)


April 5, 2008 at 12:51 am
(1) Nathan B. says:

Susan, I absolutely love the new coins, and I also really enjoyed your post on the new designs. Thank you!

April 5, 2008 at 6:36 am
(2) The Yankee says:

The post about these coins was timely. I, for one, find them very unique and ordered a set of the old & new versions.

Thanks for the info!

July 28, 2008 at 6:17 am
(3) john broomfield says:

I ordered a set of the new proof coins directly they were advertised.I received a letter on 8th May 2008 and another on 17th June.They are still waiting to become available.I’m getting a bit apprehensive now as they are such a low mintage

July 28, 2008 at 11:00 am
(4) john broomfield says:

I take it all back – they’ve just arrived july28 !

July 28, 2008 at 11:34 am
(5) Susan Headley says:


I’m glad you finally got your coins! What serial number did you get? Is it really high, like they’re almost sold out? I placed my order the day they went on sale and got (base metal) Proof Set number 1200-something, which surprised me. They arrived here in the U.S. within a couple of weeks. I think this set will be a big winner a decade from now when everyone has been using the coins for awhile and is used to them.

Susan Headley
About.com Guide to Coins

July 29, 2008 at 4:06 am
(6) john broomfield says:


My serial numbers are in the 1100′s
The only snag is that they sent me temporary cases,and they reckon it will be some time in September before the proper cases arrive.

November 6, 2008 at 4:04 pm
(7) Thomas says:

royal arms of ENGLAND??? I think not!!!

November 7, 2008 at 4:41 pm
(8) Susan Headley says:


Thank you for alerting me to my mistake about describing the Royal Arms on the new British coins. I certainly didn’t mean to offend anybody, and I apologize if I have done so. I have corrected the mistake, hopefully to your satisfaction. ;)


January 31, 2009 at 7:24 am
(9) Brutus says:

I have a 20p coin in the April 2008 design issue in COPPER! It is slightly larger than a 1p coin and is round rather than having seven edges, otherwise identical to the cupronickel version. Is this a mistake, a forgery or what? I would appreciate any answers.

October 20, 2010 at 6:51 am
(10) sully says:

get a life mate

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