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Norman Sillman: Coin Designer

Started by <k>, June 18, 2010, 01:47:56 PM

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<k>




Norman Sillman was born in London in 1921. He trained at the Royal College of Art. For a more detailed biography, read the Wikipedia article written by his grandson:

Wikipedia: Norman Sillman

Mr Sillman lived in Suffolk, England, after his retirement, where he died on 18th July, 2013.


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<k>

#1


Mr Sillman produced designs over several decades, many of them for the Royal Mint (UK).

Here is his first design: Bermuda, 5 shillings, 1959, commemorating Bermuda's 350th anniversary.


See also: Bermuda crown 1959: Preliminary artwork
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<k>

#2



This was quickly followed by the 1960 1 dong coin for Vietnam.

President Ngo Dinh Diem, portrayed on the obverse, was assassinated in 1963.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

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<k>

#3


Among Mr Sillman's most charming designs are those he produced for newly independent Zambia in 1964. The six pence depicted a morning glory flower, whilst a trumpeter hornbill appeared on the shilling and a bohor reedbuck on the two shillings. Surprisingly, this set did not include a three pence coin.

 
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#4


Zambia released a collector five shillings coin in 1965, commemorating the first anniversary of independence.

Mr Sillman created the portrait of President Kaunda and modelled the country's coat of arms with supporters.
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<k>

#5


From 1966 onwards, Mr Sillman's portrait of President Kaunda replaced the coat of arms on the regular coinage.

 
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#6



Zambia went decimal in 1968 and released a new coin series.

Mr Sillman worked on the new series, adding the new denominations.

He also transferred some of his old designs from the pre-decimal coins.

 
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See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#7






Mr Sillman also added two new designs to the Zambian set: the aardvark on the one ngwee and the martial eagle on the two ngwee coin.

His aardvark is one of my favourite numismatic wildlife designs, and so far it remains the only aardvark ever to grace a circulation coin.

To see Mr Sillman's initial sketches, click here.
 
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

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<k>

#8


In 1969 Zambia issued a 50 ngwee coin to celebrate the fifth anniversary of independence.

Once again, this was designed by Mr Sillman, and his stylish depiction of a corn cob adorns the reverse of the coin.
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See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#9


Kenya issued its first national coinage in 1966. 

Mr Sillman's depiction of President Jomo Kenyatta displays once more his gift for portraiture.

To see some of Mr Sillman's initial sketches of Kenyatta, click here.
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<k>

#10


Mr Sillman also modelled the Kenyan coat of arms that appears on the coins.

However, it was not until 1969 that a legend was added to the portrait of Kenyatta.

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<k>

#11


Kenyatta's trademark fly whisk.




The cockerel and axe, symbol of Kenyatta's political party, KANU, the Kenya African National Union.




Mount Kenya.


Kenya released a series of gold coins in 1966, in order to celebrate the 75th birthday of President Jomo Kenyatta.

Mr Sillman was responsible for all the designs.
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<k>

#12






It used to be the case that, through the 1960s to the 1990s, the Royal Mint would, if possible, assign the same artist to a country's coinage. After Kenyatta's death in 1978, Daniel arap Moi became president of Kenya, and his portrait appeared on the coinage from 1980 onwards. Mr Sillman's superb portrait of President Moi can be seen below.

Mr Sillman's grandson, Will Coles, recalls his working methods: "I used to watch him make the designs when I was a kid. They were usually about 30cm across when he was working on them, in plasticine on plastic coated wood, and always less than 10mm deep even at the thickest points. Then he'd cast them in dental plaster ('plaster of paris') and send those versions to the Royal Mint for scaling down."
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#13


In 1972 the Seychelles, while still under British rule, issued two coins with a FAO (Food and Agricultural Organisation) theme: a 1 cent coin featuring a the head of a bull or cow, and a 5 cents coin depicting a cabbage. These reverse designs were by Norman Sillman.

Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

<k>

#14




The Seychelles issued a collector 5 rupee coin in 1972, of the exact size and shape as the UK 50 pence of that time. Queen Elizabeth II appeared on the obverse, since the Seychelles were still British, but if you turned this deceptively British-looking coin over, you would find a most exotic and very un-British design on the reverse. Norman Sillman had taken the scene from the shield of the Seychelles coats of arms (illustrated above) and updated and modernised its rather simplistic elements to produce a superbly stylish design.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.