CoinNews published this week an article likely based on a Royal Mint press release about the new 50 pence coin honoring the quadracentennial of Kew Gardens. The circulating 50 pence coins host a wonderful array of different designs that I really enjoyed during my time in London. This is another great design - simple, elegant, iconic. I wish more U.S. coin designs were more like these - not cluttered or wordy, just good art. Pictured below are the silver and gold collector versions; the circulating version is cupronickel. -Editor In 1759, a few acres of land was donated by Princess Augusta to create a garden for rare and unusual plants. 250 years later the Royal Mint is celebrating the creation of this premier facility with the 2009 UK Kew Gardens 50p coins.
The first few years of Kew Gardens saw growth, but not the scientific stature it would eventually attain. The beginning of real change occurred in 1771 when King George III met Joseph Banks, an entrepreneur who had just returned from a world voyage with James Cook aboard the Endeavour. Banks had accumulated an impressive collection of animals, plants and portfolios.
Issued as legal tender, the Royal Mint has created the heptagon (seven-sided) coin with Ian Rank-Broadley’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth on the obverse, or "heads side." Inscribed are "Queen Elizabeth II," "DG REG FD" and "Fifty Pence."
Christopher Le Brun designed the reverse to include the Pagoda and plants. He describes his choice:
"Like the London Red Bus, the Kew Gardens pagoda is an instantly recognisable symbol and rather to be cherished for that reason. So I decided not to resist such a strong image but rather to enjoy drawing it. The tower’s identity and perpendicular clarity is very useful in a design. I had the idea early on that plants should twine around and grow up through the tower."
To read the complete article, see: 2009 UK Kew Gardens Coins (www.coinnews.net/2009/06/11/2009-uk-kew-gardens-coins/)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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