Purchased with help from the British Museum Friends
CM 2006,0601.431 to 456 (inclusive)
Christopher Ironside, four sets of designs for United Kingdom decimal coins
These drawings are Christopher Ironside’s designs for the United Kingdom’s (UK) first decimal coins, including the fifty, ten, five, two, one and half penny pieces.
In the early 1960s, there was increasing interest in changing the United Kingdom’s coinage from a pound made up of 20 shillings, or 240 pence, to a decimal currency with a pound made up of 100 pence. This change of currency involved a significant redesign of the UK coinage, and Christopher Ironside had begun working on designs for the decimal coins in 1962.
However, in 1966, just as Ironside thought his designs were finalised, and would be adopted for the new coins, he was asked to go to the Royal Mint. The Deputy Master of the Mint, Jack James told him that although he had won the first, secret, competition, there would now be a public competition. Ironside would have to start again, from scratch.
He submitted these four sets of designs to the second, public, competition. The four sets of designs were all based on heraldry, but one was more modern and featured a gyroscope. The designs that can still be seen on the UK’s coins are all shown in these original drawings, although some appear on coins of different denominations.