THE DESIGN of the last commemorative round pound, launched Tuesday, has been created by the Bishop of St Asaph on behalf of The Royal Mint.
The round pound coin was introduced in 1983, and will be replaced by a new twelve sided coin next year. The commemorative 2016 £1 coin will be the last of its kind and The Royal Mint has chosen the Bishop’s design to feature on this coin.
The design by the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron, a keen amateur artist and coin collector, depicts four royal beasts – the Welsh dragon, the English lion, the Scottish unicorn and a stag for Northern Ireland – around the St Edward’s crown, symbolising Britain’s sovereignty.
The commemorative pound coin, the 25th design to be minted, has also been chosen as the one the first visitors to the new Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant, South Wales, can strike as part of their visit. The centre opens on May 18 and visitors will be able to mint the coin until the end of the year.
Bishop Gregory said: “I am absolutely delighted and proud that I have designed the very last commemorative round pound coin. As it is a non-circulating edition of the coin it will always be a very rare coin and, I hope, treasured.
“In my design, the four heraldic beasts are equal – each has its quarter of the coin. It’s traditional but also modern as there is quite a strong sense of line. There is also some cross-over – parts of each beast cross over into the next – the dragon’s wing, for example, crosses into the lion’s quarter. That makes it more dynamic and also symbolic as it shows four separate nations, all an equal part, yet interlinked as they protect Britain’s sovereignty, the Crown.
“As a Welshman, I put my initials GKC under the dragon.”
The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coins, Anne Jessopp said: “The very last circulating round pound was struck by The Royal Mint in December 2015, so that makes this commemorative 2016 ‘farewell’ pound all the more special. Throughout 2016, visitors to our new ‘Royal Mint Experience’ visitor centre will be able to see Bishop Gregory’s powerful royal beasts design when they choose to strike their very own £1 coin during their visit.”
Bishop Gregory has been interested in heraldry since childhood and has previously designed coat of arms for the Church in Wales and for the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Williams of Oystermouth. He began his ministry in the church in 1983 which, fittingly, was the year the £1 coin was introduced.
Bishop Gregory added: “As a child I was fascinated by coins. In those days you never knew what pennies you would have in your change. Some showed the head of our Queen but others could be the head of George VI or George V, Edward VII or even Queen Victoria. Pennies were very cheap so people were happy to give them to me.
“However, it was the Churchill Crown coin which really got me interested in collecting and I have now got all the crown coins from 1890 to the present day.
“I am also fascinated by the older coins and my must-see one is an Alexander III Tetradrachm. It’s amazing to hold it and think that it was minted 2,500 years ago – how did it survive? Who used it? Each coin has a unique history and journey.”
Bishop Gregory’s involvement with The Royal Mint began in 2014 when he heard about the competition to design the new £1 coin. He entered three designs; two based on the flowers of the four nations – the leek of Wales, the rose of England, the thistle of Scotland and the flax flower of Northern Ireland – and at the last minute a design based on Royal beasts. One of his flower designs was shortlisted for the new coin but didn’t win. Instead his heraldic beasts design was chosen for the last round £1 coin.
“I love heraldry,” said Bishop Gregory, “Because there is so much romance and mystery in it and designing the coin was a good opportunity to explore that further. The images are highly stylised and imaginative as they are symbolic. The most challenging part was the stag as I hadn’t attempted that before and as people have a clear idea of what they look like, it had to be realistic!”
Bishop Gregory’s commemorative last round £1 coin is on sale from The Royal Mint at http://www.royalmint.com/