The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 24, Number 2, January 10, 2021, Article 27


It's rare that a new coin design DOESN'T spark objections from various corners. The latest controversy is over the Royal Mint's new coin commemorating the works of author H. G. Wells. Scott Miller submitted these comments. -Editor

My son just sent me a message about the new UK H G Wells commemorative coin with the comment "can I just note that the big walking machine on the coin has four legs?"

For those unfamiliar with "The War of the Worlds", the appropriate passage is

"And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder."

Perhaps we should blame it on the new math?

David Pickup forwarded this story from The Guardian. Thanks! -Editor

HG Wells coin

Observant fans of HG Wells have questioned how a new coin from the Royal Mint commemorating The War of the Worlds author could be released with multiple errors, including giving his "monstrous tripod" four legs.

The £2 coin is intended to mark 75 years since the death of Wells, and includes imagery inspired by The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man.

Unfortunately, it strays from Wells's vision of his creations. "As someone who particularly likes one of his very famous stories, can I just note that the big walking machine on the coin has four legs? Four legs. The man famous for creating the Martian TRIpod," wrote artist Holly Humphries. "How many people did this have to go through? Did they know how to count?"

Science fiction novelist and professor of 19th-century literature Adam Roberts, who is author of a biography of Wells and vice president of the HG Wells Society, also criticised the depiction of the Invisible Man, shown in a top hat; in the book he arrives at Iping under a "wide-brimmed hat".

"It's nice to see Wells memorialised, but it would have been nicer for them to get things right," Roberts said. "A tripod with four legs is hard to comprehend (tri: the clue is in the name), and Wells's (distinctly ungentlemanly) invisible man, Griffin, never wore a top hat ... I'd say Wells would be annoyed by this carelessness: he took immense pains to get things right in his own work – inviting translators of his book to stay with him to help the process and minimise errors and so on."

Asked about the errors, a spokesperson for The Royal Mint said, "We have created a new £2 coin to celebrate the life and works of HG Wells. The coin depicts scenes from famous works such as War of the Worlds and the Invisible Man as imagined by designer Chris Costello." Costello has said he was inspired by "vintage HG Wells book covers and movie posters".

David adds:

"It is the first time the invisible man has been seen on a coin."

I can't remember if I read the book, but I've certainly seen the movies. I have to agree that the top hat seems incongruous. A floppy-wide brimmed hat help hide the Invisible Man's bandaged head when clothed and visible. As for the Martian walker (a forerunner of the Star Wars Imperial Walkers, I assume), to me it seems to have the requisite three legs, plus an arm and a tendril - I wouldn't count either of those as a fourth leg, but the arm could be misinterpreted as one. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
HG Wells fans spot numerous errors on Royal Mint's new £2 coin (

Here's an article with additional comments from designer Costello. -Editor

Chris Costello, the coin's designer, insisted he was intentionally reinterpreting imagery from Wells' works for a modern audience.

"The characters in 'War of the Worlds' have been depicted many times, and I wanted to create something original and contemporary," he said.

"My design takes inspiration from a variety of machines featured in the book -- including tripods and the handling machines which have five jointed legs and multiple appendages. The final design combines multiple stories into one stylized and unified composition that is emblematic of all of H.G. Well's (sic) work and fits the unique canvas of a coin."

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
The UK's new HG Wells coin features numerous errors -- including a four-legged tripod (

Arthur Shippee passed along a New York Times article on the coin. Thanks. -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Fans of H.G. Wells Cry Foul Over Errors in Commemorative Coin (

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Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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