Since 1983, when the new pound coin was issued, the designs on the reverses of the coins have been changed in cycles of five years, one 'British' version, and four other designs each representing the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom. The next series of four national designs, 2004 to 2007, is based on bridges. To decide on this series, a design competition was held. Among the entries was a set of designs based on heraldic beasts. Although these were not the designs chosen for the new pound coins, apparently the design theme was considered good enough for the Royal Mint to issue them as a pattern set.
These four beasts represent England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland respectively.
The coins bear the inscription "PATTERN" where they would normally say "ONE POUND". They also have a plain edge rather than a reeded and inscribed edge, and the coins are hallmarked on their edge.
According to the Royal Mint certificate which accompnaies the set:-
Familiar as a supporter on the Scottish and British Royal Arms, the unicorn has the head , body and mane of a horse, a goat-like beard, the cloven hoofs of a deer, the tail of a lion and a prominent long spiralling horn set in its forehead.
It was renowned for its rivalry with the lion, a rivalry that acquired a political dimension when the thrones of England and Scotland were united under King James in 1603. James was the first monarch to adopt the famous supporters on the Royal Coat of ARms - a lion for England and a unicorn for Scotland.
Timothy Noad's powerful representation of the unicorn features the crowned heraldic beast facing to the right and adorned with a chained coronet around its neck.
The heraldic dragon has a body of reptilian nature covered with a mail of plates and scales and a row of formidable spines extending from head to tail, ending in a great and deadly stinger. The fearsome monster has round luminous eyes, a dangerous spike on his nose, a forked tongue, eagle's feet and the wings of a bat. In heraldry, it is symbolic of power, wisdom and astuteness.
The Welsh dragon was used in the Royal Arms in the sixteenth century. A red dragon features on the royal badge for Wales and is a common device in the civic or family heraldry of the Principality.
Timothy Noad's portrayal of this beast displays the long forked tongue extending from an open mouth, a myriad of scales covering its head and vicious spines to ward off any enemies.
The White Hart, a male deer with branching antlers, has been used here to represent Northern Ireland because it occurs in the Royal Crest as used in the province, springing from the portal of a tower. Its history dates back to medieval times, being employed for example as the badge of Richard II.
In earlier versions of his designs, Timothy Noad incorporated elements from the Irish elk, especially in relation to the antlers, to reinforce the association with Northern Ireland heraldry.
Timothy Noad has depicted the beast facing to the left, with widely branched antlers protruding from its head and a long dense mane.
The lion is the most popular and one of the oldest beasts in heraldry. It appears in the arms of Great Britain, Denmark, Spain, Holland and numerous other European countries. As early as 1127 Henry I used the lion as an ornament on a shield. The early English heralds confused the lion with the leopard and although never drawn spotted as the real leopard, it was described as leo-pard, or a lion as a leopard.
Lions in medieval times were associated with Christianity, representing justice and righteous power and many royal coat of arms featured them. Richard I had three lions on his Royal Seal and subsequently this device came to be used as the Royal Arms of England.
The lion is the king of the beasts and has been used in the Royal Arms of England since the Plantagenets. Here the lion's head is shown in full-face and is crowned with a coronet of alternate crosses and fleurs-de-lis as in the Royal Crest and left-hand supporter of the Royal Arms.
Pattern pieces differ from coins issued for general circulation. They are not finished legal tender coins and are widely recognised by collectors as exceptional items. The plain edge, coupled with their hallmarks and rarity ensure that they are distinct and highly collectable items.
On this occasion, the particular designs are unlikely to appear on any British legal coin, but making them available in this way helps to reveal something of the process behind designing a new United Kingdom coin.
Featuring representative heraldic beasts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, and England, these exceptional pieces are beautiful examples of numismatic art.
Members of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee play a central role in recommending designs for United Kingdom coins, official medals, seals and decorations. Although the number of members has varied since it was established in 1922, in recent years there have usually been about twelve.
Chaired by Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, Rector of the Royal College of Art and Chairman of the Design Council England, the Advisory Committee is charged with raising the standard of numismatic art.
Five artists were asked to provide designs for a new series of one pound coins. Each artist chose a different approach to represent England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a wood engraver Edwina Ellis won with her series of designs depicting bridges.
The issue limit is 5,000 sets.
|English||Lion||22.50 mms||19.50 grams||.925||0.2825||5,000|
|Scottish||Unicorn||22.50 mms||19.50 grams||.925||0.2825||5,000|
|Welsh||Dragon||22.50 mms||19.50 grams||.925||0.2825||5,000|
|Irish||White Hart||22.50 mms||19.50 grams||.925||0.2825||5,000|
|Complete Set||78 grams||1.1300||5,000|
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