UK EEC 50p 1973: Norway was conspicuous by her absence

Started by <k>, November 24, 2013, 12:27:10 AM

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<k>

David-Wynne-Euro-50p-sketch.jpg

David Wynne's sketch of his design.


UK 50 pence 1973-EEC.jpg


From the Royal Mint:

When the sculptor David Wynne was preparing designs for the fifty pence of 1973 commemorating Britain's entry into the European Economic Community one of the early options was a ring of ten hands rather than the nine that subsequently appeared as the approved design. The Mint Museum has original artwork relating to some of the initial ideas and the drawing reproduced here shows an alternative inscription together with the larger number of hands.

In the time between the idea of the coin being proposed and its eventual issue, the expected number of members was reduced from ten to nine by the withdrawal of Norway and Mr Wynne therefore had to amend his design accordingly. He had used as models hands to which he could readily refer: his own, those of his wife and one of his sons, those of a craftsman who assisted in his studio and those of a girl who helped look after his children. One of the girl's hands was omitted and, being more delicate than the others, the one that remains is conspicuous. But in answer to the question that was often asked of the Mint since the coin's issue, the girl's hand does not represent any particular member of the Community.


Image copyright of the Royal Mint.
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FosseWay

Something I've always wondered about is why the Mint issued this commemorative and then didn't issue any more (for general circulation) until IIRC 1992/3 when the 20th anniversary of EEC/EU membership was also commemorated on a 50p.* In the intervening time non-circulating commemorative coins were issued - crowns depicting royal occasions which today feature on £5 coins, and the first tentative steps towards a £2 coin.

Someone clearly had the idea very early on of using the large size of the 50p for commemoratives, but then it wasn't followed through. Just wondered whether anyone knew why.

* In fact in practice you can extend the date to 1998, when the third EU commemorative and the NHS 50p coins were issued, closely followed by the rugby World Cup £2 the next year. These were the first to properly circulate - I never found a 1992/3 or a D-Day 1994 coin in change.

Figleaf

The story solves the myth of the small hand: not long after issue, there was a story that the there was a variety with all hands in the same size. People probably didn't realise ALL hands were of different persons. It may even be the reason why the mint, in its roundabout ways ;) published this story.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

<k>

Quote from: FosseWay on November 24, 2013, 09:59:55 AM
I've always wondered why the Mint issued this commemorative and then didn't issue any more (for general circulation) until 1992/3 when the 20th anniversary of EEC/EU membership was also commemorated on a 50p.

Back in those days the Royal Mint was very sparing with its commemorative issues. The traditional commemorative was of course the crown (5 shillings / 25 pence), but this was regarded as a keepsake, and its large size (38mm in diameter) meant that it did not circulate. Edward Heath had been part of the UK's failed efforts to join the EEC in the 1960s, and when he became prime minister he was determined not to fail again. For this reason, it is thought that he made too poor a bargain and gave, for instance, the Europeans rights to fish in our territorial waters that were not necessary. However, given his pride in his achievement, I can well imagine that he gave instructions that Britain's entry into the EEC should be commemorated on a coin that circulated: the 50 pence. He could be quite autocratic and "hands-on" at times. I do remember that it was a popular issue, and non-collectors would comment on the "50 pence with the hands".

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Royal Mint was still very sparing with its issues, and after what I imagine was Mr Heath's initiative, it evidently returned to type. Possibly no other prime minister was that interested in the value of a coin as propaganda. The 1990s saw a change of attitude, and the late 1990s even saw a change in approach to design: previously the commemorative designs had been mainly heraldic or timidly symbolic; now they became more adventurous, and representational designs were also produced, along with some rather modern designs that just would not have been considered before - the attractive all-text design for the Samuel Johnson commemorative springs to mind.
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<k>

Quote from: FosseWay on November 24, 2013, 09:59:55 AM
I never found a 1992/3 or a D-Day 1994 coin in change.

I found both - though I never liked the boringly star-ridden 1992/3 design.
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<k>

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Here is evidence that Mr Heath did take a personal interest in the coin's design.

Proposal to issue commemorative 50 pence coin to celebrate UK accession to the EEC

The images below are copyright of the National Archives (UK).
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chrisild

Formally both "European Community" (which back then was called European Economic Community) and "Common Market" (something that has never been an official term) would have been incorrect.

"European Communities" would have worked, but then you have the issue that one of the documents mentioned: Since there is no country name on modern British coins, anything that says "EC" or (even worse) "Europe" would have been quite misleading. And an alternative such as "Accession of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the European Economic Community and the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Atomic Energy Community" would not have left much room for anything else. 8)

Christian

Figleaf

Delightful little skirmishes. I couldn't help smiling about the ignorance on the proper terminology.

Europe is a continent, not an organisation, even when anglophones use it for the organisation.
The European Economic Community (1957-1993) is an organisation Britain became a member of.
The European Communities (1993-2009) did not yet exist in 1973.
The European Community is an informal name used in anglophone countries that belies their opposition to mandates for the EC outside the economic realm. Likewise, but in reverse, Common Market is an informal name  implying a stage of development the EEC had already passed.

The subtle differences are not important in speech, as they will be understood, but on something as formal as a coin, you would expect proper nomenclature, not informal British peculiarities.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

chrisild

Quote from: Figleaf on November 24, 2013, 02:57:35 PM
Europe is a continent, not an organisation, even when anglophones use it for the organisation.

It is a misnomer but a common one. People in the EU, not just in "anglo" countries, use it frequently when referring to the EU. As long as the context or reference is obvious, oh well. :)

QuoteThe European Communities (1993-2009) did not yet exist in 1973.
The European Community is an informal name used in anglophone countries (...)

Huh? The collective term "European Communities" is much older than 1993; it refers to the fact that the three (still separate) communities have common institutions etc. That Merger Treaty is from the mid-60s. So the UK could not have joined, say, the Coal and Steel Community but stayed out of the EEC.

And "European Community" was, as from 1993 (Maastricht Treaty), the official term for what used to be the EEC. Here is a Wikipedia article in Dutch with a neat diagram: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Europese_Gemeenschappen

Christian

Figleaf

Wiki says you are right, which is impossible :) Let me explain.

When I was a civil servant, which is admittedly a long time ago, there was an unwritten list of words and expressions only young new entrants and other uneducated people would use. The English sub-section of that list included America (unless one meant the whole continent, of course), England (unless one was referring to the proper part of the United Kingdom, of course) his/her majesty (unless addressing same, of course), William the third, interpreter, Common market, European Community, shall, must, demand and any verb already employed in the same sentence (no exceptions allowed, of course.)

I may not remember correctly, which is impossible, because civil servants never make a mistake, or the old mandarins got something wrong which is equally impossible because old mandarins cannot possibly be wrong AND they are by their nature civil servants. Therefore, I shall continue to shiver when I read any of the uneducated terms. So there.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

chrisild

From my experience, "Common Market" (undoubtedly informal) was primarily used by those who wanted to emphasize that the EECECEU :) is nothing but that - some kind of customs area maybe. As for the other terms ... if only that was the most confusing aspect when it comes to EUrope, hehe.

In colloquial language, even newspapers and such, it is OK in my opinion to use pars pro toto as well as totum pro parte terms: "Washington" or "America" when referring to the US government, "Brussels" or "Europe" when referring to the European Commission. But the word "Europe" on that particular 50p design would not have been appropriate, I think.

Christian

Figleaf

Here's another dear memory. I once got a chewing out for not assuming that the person I was giving information to already knew what I was telling him. I should have used "as you know" at least once. As you know, this continues to haunt me. :)

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

<k>



Robert Elderton (left) with Richard Guyatt (right) in 1980.

Mr Guyatt designed the reverse of the UK 25p coin to commemorate the Queen Mother's 80th birthday in 1980.



UK EEC 50p sketch-Richard Guyatt.jpg

Richard Guyatt submitted this design to the Royal Mint for consideration.

Some liked it, some did not, but ultimately it was not chosen.
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<k>

UK EEC 50p sketch-Paul Vincze-.jpg



UK EEC 50p sketch-Paul Vincze.jpg


Paul Vincze submitted these two designs.

They were criticised for being staid and, too old-fashioned.

And the cornucopia emphasised the material benefits of membership.
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FosseWay

I'm surprised no critics added "too French" to the list of problems with the second one. The reverse is strongly reminiscent of the Fourth Republic 1- and 2-franc coins.