Design Development of the UK 5 Pound Coin of 2002

Started by Galapagos, August 29, 2009, 01:22:27 PM

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In 2002, the Royal Mint released a special five pound coin.

It celebrated the 50th anniversary of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II of England. 

The Royal Mint had originally asked four designers to produce designs for the coin.

These were James Baldwin, Robert Lowe, Avril Vaughan and Ian Rank-Broadley.

All of them had previously produced coin designs for the Royal Mint.

The designs by JB and RL did not strike me as particularly original.

I will therefore not include them in this topic.

Avril Vaughan designs.gif

Avril Vaughan's designs centred on the royal crown.

She showed the crown in the proper proportions (it is very large).

Unfortunately, the Mint felt that this unbalanced the designs.



Ian Rank-Broadley.

Ian Rank-Broadley's initial reverse design showed the Queen on horseback.

The Mint liked the design but found the horse too statuesque.

IRB revised the design, giving the horse a less sculptural look.

However, he added a wreath to the Queen's head.

The Mint disliked this and asked him to remove it.

Horse too statuesque.jpg

Horse too statuesque.

Queen with wreath.jpg

Queen with wreath.

UK 5 pounds 2002-.jpg

Issued design.


HM NowandThen.gif

London In Background.gif

For the obverse design, IRB provided two options.

One showed the Queen both young and old.

The other showed her against a background of the London skyline.

The Mint liked his contemporary portrait of the Queen (as she looked in 2002).

It asked him to concentrate on that and remove the other elements.

He was also asked to reduce the prominence of the denomination.



This is the finished obverse as it appeared on the coin.


Agreed, the two portraits with the huge crown on the Queen's head (Vaughan designs, left and right) look strange. Now the one in the middle I like ... except people in Scotland for example may have found the "St. George style" cross too English.

The Now & Then concept is interesting but not exactly nice, I think. :)  The one with London in the background - well, the design is appealing, and I guess it would have worked with such a crown sized coin. But does one city, even if it is the capital, represent a country on a coin? Not for me ...



Quote from: chrisild on August 29, 2009, 02:38:36 PM
...Now the one in the middle I like ... except people in Scotland may have found the "St. George style" cross too English.

The one with London in the background - does one city represent a country on a coin? Not for me ...


I don't think a St. George cross was intended - but I can see where you're coming from. The London design would have been my favourite. After all, that's where QEII's main residence is. However, I'm neutral on the monarchy so don't collect royalty-themed coins - I just thought it would be interesting to illustrate the genesis of a coin design.


Surprising, that John Lobban and Avril Vaughan got along so well together. Their tastes seem so different. He goes for visual surprises, she for geometric shapes. Cover half of one of their designs and Avril's other half can be guessed at, while John's other half could be anything. Sometimes, opposites attract each other.

These are really great pictures, providing insight in coins as well as designers.

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


Quote from: Ice Torch on August 29, 2009, 08:04:39 PM
I just thought it would be interesting to illustrate the genesis of a coin design.

Oh, absolutely. Especially since your research involved quite a bit of effort. Fun for you too, I hope, but still "work". :) Thanks!



Always fun to talk about design. In 2001 I read a webpage about Avril Vaughan. It gave her phone number, and interested readers were invited to phone her. Hesitantly, I did. It rang for a minute or so before I gave up. A few seconds later, my phone rang. Miss Vaughan (as she liked to be known) had rung dial-back. She chatted enthusiastically for the next 50 minutes or so, talking of how she trained as a jewellery designer before chancing into coin design.

Her first job had been modelling the Tuvalu circulation designs of 1976 at the Royal Mint for John Donald, she told me. (I hadn't known the name of the designer. He kept a jewellery and silversmith business in London, so I later emailed him, but he told me that the Tuvalu set had been his only foray into coin design). I asked her had she ever produced any wildife designs. Yes, very large kwacha coins in the 1990s, but she couldn't remember the precise year. Unfortunately I didn't have my catalogue to hand, and there are two countries that use kwachas, anyway.

She told me of her late husband, John Lobban, which is how I came to know of his designs and that he was the illustrator of "Paddington Bear". She was also testing my knowledge of modern designers throughout the conversation. Did I know who designed the UK's gold Britannias? Yes, Philip Nathan, I replied. Well, he's a good friend of mine, she said, giving me his phone number. I rang him later that afternoon - I knew he'd designed the Britannia, and the Barbados circulation set, but could he remember any others. "Do you know," he said, "I've designed so many... Give me your address and I'll see what I can remember and send you a list." Next morning a letter arrived with a typed list. One of the revelations was that he'd designed the 1980s portrait of President Nyrere on the Tanzanian 10 shilingi coin. So I learnt a lot through Miss Vaughan.

She finished the conversation by saying that she was in the middle of a project for the Royal Mint but couldn't reveal what it was. This turned out to be the death commemorative of the Queen Mother (not one of her best designs, I think - her Guernsey coin portrait of the QM was more lifelike).

Since the new century, other the Royal Mint has occasionally assigned other designers than Mr Nathan to produce the Britannia. His last work that I know of was the Gibraltar 2004 circulation set (reverse designs).


Here is a list (not complete of course) of women that were/are coin designers, including Vaughan:

No photos though. Interesting that you called her, and amazing that she talked to you that long!



Paul Baker (africancoins) also directed me to that list, so it's good that it's getting exposure. A comprehensive modern list would be pages longer, of course. Yes, AV came across as very genial and somebody who enjoyed conversing. She has also given demonstrations of her art to the public and to schools, so she is keen to share her art and educate the public.


Yesterday while surfing I discovered that Avril Vaughan died in 2006:

"In reference to the obituary on Avril Vaughan (September 21), perhaps the superb bust of Reginald Mitchell, the Spitfire designer, at Southampton may yet come to be regarded as the finest of Avril's many wonderful achievements."

This was the first I knew of it. I can't find anything else about her death. Apparently she was born in 1939 so would only have been 66 or 67. I think the average lifespan for a woman in Britain is around 81 these days, so that's rather unfortunate.