The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 14, April 6, 2008, Article 22


[The Times of London published a profile of Matthew Dent,
the 26-year-old graphic designer who was paid £35,000 (about
$70,000) for his winning entry for the new circulating coin
reverse designs. -Editor]

Matthew Dent was 8 when he fell in love with coins. It was
1990 and his friend brought a recently introduced 5p into school.
“It was shiny and I wanted one,” said Mr Dent. “It just looked
amazing.” Now, the 26-year-old graphic designer has been
announced as the creative force behind the first new British
coin series since decimalisation in 1971.

His vision for the coins beat more than 4,000 entries in a
2005 Royal Mint competition to find fresh designs for seven
of Britain’s eight circulating coins, from the 1p piece to
the £1 coin. The £2 will remain unchanged.

That moment will have been a long time coming for Mr Dent, who
continued his job at a design company throughout the process.
“The committee would meet and set deadlines and I would work
frantically. Then we would have long breaks,” he said.

“I was working weekends and evenings. I was going to bed at
three in the morning. I spent a lot of time apologising to
my girlfriend,” he said.

But, despite 16 stages of revision and a committee veto on
a “voluptuous female torso” intended for the 50p, Mr Dent
said the final designs were true to the original. The images
on the 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p and 50p can be pieced together to
form a whole royal shield of arms. The £1 coin, or “jigsaw box
lid”, features the complete picture.

“I want my new designs to intrigue, to entertain and to raise
a smile,” Mr Dent said.

Andrew Stafford, chief executive of the Royal Mint, said that
the designs were contemporary but retained “the gravitas and
reference to history required for the UK’s coins”.

Phillip Mussell, director of the magazine Coin News, was
generally complimentary about the design, but expressed
concern that the lack of numerals would pose difficulties
for visitors from foreign countries.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[The Royal Mint's web site has this profile of Matthew
Dent. -Editor]

As an artist his inspiration comes from many sources and
he explored a number of options before finally developing
his ideas for an heraldic set. The result is a set of coins
firmly rooted in the heraldic traditions of the British
coinage yet beautifully contemporary.

In seeking to spread a single design across six denominations,
Matthew Dent conceived an idea that has never been realised
before on the British coinage. To have the £1 as the unifying
coin only emerged towards the end of the design process.
Matthew Dent has commented that ‘the addition of the £1 coin
design to the set was as a way of defining the whole series.
A key coin uniting the designs’. Against all the odds, a
young artist has won a public competition and devised a
stunningly original series that stands as an imaginative
and clever solution.

‘I felt that the solution to the Royal Mint's brief lay in
a united design - united in terms of theme, execution and
coverage over the surface of the coins. I wondered about a
theme of birds or plants, but also considered buildings and
coastal scenery. The issue with this for me lay in their
distribution; how to represent the whole of the United Kingdom
over six coins. The idea of a landscape appealed to me; perhaps
using well-known landscapes from different areas around the
United Kingdom which could stretch off the edge of one coin
onto another. This seemed like a good solution but I also
wanted to look at other options and themes.

I thought the six coins could make up a shield by arranging
the coins both horizontally, as with the landscape idea, as
well as vertically, in a sort of jigsaw style. I liked the
idea and symbolism of using the Royal Arms, where individually
the coins could focus on specific elements and when placed
together they reveal the complete Royal Arms.

I found the idea that members of the public could interact
with the coins the most exciting aspect of this concept. It's
easy to imagine the coins pushed around a school classroom
table or fumbled around with on a bar - being pieced together
as a jigsaw and just having fun with them.’

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

[I'll be curious to see the new coins in person.  They are
already being manufactured at the Mint.  What do E-Sylum
readers think? -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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