Here is a piece I have transcribed from a 1990 Royal Mint bulletin. Most people throw these away once they've ordered their coins, so I hope the Royal Mint doesn't mind me reproducing this.
THOMAS HUMPHREY PAGET (1893-1974).
One of the best remembered designs of the last pre-decimal coins was the old sailing ship on the halfpenny. Based on Drakeís Golden Hind, it was the work of one of the most prolific designers of the twentieth century.
Thomas Humphrey Paget was born in London in 1893 to a family already well established in the art world. Little wonder then that the young Paget should have been interested in art and that he should have studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and at the Royal Academy Schools, where he won a Landseer Scholarship. Following naval service during the First World War, he returned to the Central School as a visiting teacher, and it was around this time that he first came to the notice of the Royal Mint.
Among the most energetic of the original members of the newly formed Royal Mint Advisory Committee was Professor Derwent Wood of the Royal College of Art; and it was Derwent wood who, in 1923, included Pagetís name in a list of young artists asked to submit designs for a medal to be awarded to nurses at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. This he did with great success, producing in the process the first in a long and distinguished series of medallic portraits.
However, it was through one of his small private commissions, rather than his early work for the Mint, that Paget made his reputation. In 1935 he was aksed to design a medal for the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, and for the obverse he produced a fine portrait of the Prince of Wales, who was Master of the Company. This portrait was widely admired, and the Deputy Master of the Mint considered it so successful that he asked Paget to prepare a low relief version as a possible coin effigy. Soon afterwards the Prince became King Edward VIII and it was indeed a model by Paget that was eventually approved for use on coins and medals of the new King.
The abdication in December 1936, however, meant that most of this work had to be scrapped, and the urgency of the situation was such that Paget alone was commissioned to prepare the uncrowned effigy required for coins and medals of George VI. If there were doubts about this course of action, Paget dispelled them brilliantly, for in little more than a month he produced what Michael Rizzello
has described as the classic coinage head of the twentieth century.
Simple, unaffected, well balanced, it was as near perfect from a technical point of view as the Mint could have hoped for. More than any other design, it may be said to typify Pagetís work and is almost certainly the design that he himself regarded as his best. His reputation was assured.
Pagetís most productive period followed the Second World War: his many commissions included seals for the Central African Federation, the South Arabian Currency Authority and the National Coal Board; medals for the Victoria Numismatic Society, the Society of Chemical Industry and the Royal Society of Medicine; coins for Bolivia, the British Caribbean Territories, Burma, the Central African Federation, Iraq, the Isle of Man, Jordan, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Arabia, Southern Rhodesia, Uruguay and Western Samoa. Particular mention deserves to be made of his head of Feisal II for the Iraq coinage, for which the schoolboy King gave sittings at Harrow, and of the reverse design for the Southern Rhodesia crown of 1953, which incorporated so many diverse elements in a space of only one and a half inches that it must be considered a numismatic triumph. Another that should be counted among his best must be a medallic portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh, his last major commission.
Undoubtedly Thomas Humphrey Paget ranks as one of the most prolific and outstanding members of the Royal Mintís panel of artists during the first half of the twentieth century. Few can have been so technically successful and so totally reliable as he, and it is with pleasure that we pay tribute to this large, shy, kindly man who, for the greater part of fifty years, served the Mint so well.