Poll

Should a UK Scouting 50 pence have been issued in 1982?

Yes, version a (top image - see below)
3 (60%)
Yes, version b (middle image - see below)
0 (0%)
Yes, version c (bottom image - see below)
0 (0%)
No
2 (40%)
Don't know
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 5

Voting closed: January 14, 2018, 12:34:08 AM

Author Topic: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982  (Read 1096 times)

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Offline <k>

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UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« on: January 06, 2018, 12:01:49 AM »
In 1981 the World Scouting Foundation (WSF) sponsored an international series of commemorative coins to be issued in 1982, the year that marked the 75th anniversary of the Scouting Movement and the 125th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Lord Baden-Powell. The WSF chose the Royal Mint to manage this scheme and produce the coins. Images of many of the resulting coins can be seen here: The Scout and Guide Movements.

The Royal Mint’s Corporate Plan of 1981 recommended a loosening of the UK’s commemorative coin issuance policy, and Alan Lotherington, the Royal Mint’s sales director, suggested that Britain might also participate in the Scouting commemorative scheme. He therefore set Christopher Ironside to work on the idea. Mr Ironside was the designer of Britain's first decimal coins, which were still in circulation at that time.

 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 12:37:00 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2018, 12:05:55 AM »
Mr Lotherington suggested that the Scouting anniversaries “should be celebrated by incorporating into the design of the 1982-dated 50 pence some relatively small variation of the design. This could take the form of the Scout emblem, or perhaps, a border featuring small Scout emblems.”

Mr Ironside now set about amending his own original 50 pence design, which depicted Britannia.He produced three sketches of an altered 50p reverse. The first saw the words “FIFTY PENCE”, which were slightly rearranged, punctuated three times by the Scout emblem. The next version saw five Scout emblems around the inner rim of the coin. The words “FIFTY PENCE” had been removed from the legend to accommodate them, and a “p” added to the “50”.

The final sketch showed the Scout emblem on Britannia’s shield, supplanting the usual Union flag. That last detail looks particularly insensitive, and it might well have upset patriotic feelings, had it been issued. Additionally, it omits the five-pointed stars that appear on the two lower leaves of the fleur-de-lys. These had been added to differentiate the Scout emblem from the fleur-de-lys, in order that it might be copyrighted, and also to calm the French, who had complained that the bare fleur-de-lys was a symbol of the detested Bourbon monarchy.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2018, 12:12:23 AM »
Mr Lotherington now tried to pitch his idea to the Treasury. If the UK issued a Scouting commemorative, it would generate more profit for the Royal Mint, and more overseas countries might join the scheme. However, other than issuing a commemorative, the UK should not join the scheme itself, the WSF would earn significant royalties from the international scheme, but there was no precedent for paying royalties from the sale of UK coins.

Mr Lotherington added that countries such as Canada and New Zealand were already issuing commemoratives annually, the UK had issued relatively few. The Royal Mint’s 1981 Corporate Plan envisaged introducing greater variety into the coinage, citing the 1973 EEC 50p commemorative as a precedent, which had been minted instead of the standard Britannia version. This would give the Royal Mint greater opportunities for commercial use of the coinage. He thought crowns best suited for royal occasions but considered the 50p ideal, because of its size, for commemorating other national events. He advocated changing the 50p’s reverse design whenever an appropriate opportunity arose but stressed: “We would not debase the designs of the United Kingdom coins by commemorating spurious events.”  He also ruled out either an annual change of design for the 50p or the issue of more than one commemorative 50p per year.

 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 12:38:13 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2018, 12:16:33 AM »
Mrs Thatcher's first government was in power at the time. Given her espousal of robust commercialism, Mr Lotherington was probably both surprised and disappointed at the Treasury’s response that the government disliked the idea of following the Post Office down the path of commemorative issues. However, it reluctantly agreed that the idea of a Scout 50p should be considered.

A Treasury official responded:

Our main worry is the possibility of lowering the standards of the coinage - particularly at a time when we shall be introducing new coins in the system - and the increased possibilities there could be for counterfeiting, if the public became used to a number of different designs in circulation at the same time. It also seems probable that there would be some increase in public expenditure because of the likelihood of some of the circulating coins being taken out of circulation by tourists and others as souvenirs. Ministers are unlikely to take kindly to this, even though there will be additional income by way of seignorage and profits from the proof side of the business. We wondered whether there might not be some ill-feeling from other countries partaking in the scheme, who might see the UK as taking advantage of the occasion to profit our own funds rather than the Scout Movement.

 
« Last Edit: January 06, 2018, 12:38:52 AM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2018, 12:19:38 AM »
In September 1981, the Royal Mint Advisory Committee was shown Mr Ironside’s sketches. Dr Jeremy Gerhard, the Deputy Master of the Mint, explained their response in a memo to Mr Lotherington.

The Committee, including its President The Duke Of Edinburgh, were strongly opposed to the use of the coinage for this type of commemoration. They felt that the coinage was traditionally linked by one thread, namely the sovereignty of the country as symbolised by the person of the sovereign and by royal emblems. It had been singularly free from external influences with only two major exceptions, the coinage of the Cromwell period and, more recently, the Churchill crown. An addition was provided by the representation of great national victories, as illustrated, for example, on the coinage of Edward III, and the Committee's view was that anything which diluted this tradition was to be regretted.

The Royal Mint's attitude to the introduction of variety into the designs of UK coins is ambivalent. As guardians of the UK coinage, we support the views expressed by the Advisory Committee about the dignity of the coinage and the traditional design link with the Sovereign and Royal Emblems. As a profit-seeking organisation, the commercial benefits of introducing variety into the design of UK Coins are considerable. Given freedom to follow the example of the Post Office, we could probably earn £3 million to £4 million additional profit in the first year of commercial exploitation. On balance, I would recommend against varying the designs, solely to generate additional profit. No EEC/OECD country has yet gone down that path and I do not think it is necessary to the commercial survival of the Royal Mint, or desirable, that we should lead the way. Admittedly, several of our customers (mainly developing countries) do use their coinage to commemorate such as the Year of the Child, and it is not easy to explain why the UK refuses to join such a commemorative programme.

Nearer home, we are sometimes compared unfavourably with the entrepreneurial spirit of the Pobjoy Mint, which has persuaded the Manx Government regularly to issue circulating coins bearing commemorative designs. However, the profit earned for Pobjoy‘s and the Manx Governments would be small in relation to the Royal Mint’s business, and with the greatest respect to our island neighbour, their coinage does not command the same position of prominence as the UK's. I recommend that for the time being the design of UK circulating coins should continue to follow the broad traditions of the past and that the commercial benefits of using circulating coins to commemorate people and events should be forgone.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2018, 12:22:48 AM »
Two years later, the Royal Mint was considering issuing a coin to commemorate the Commonwealth Games, to be held in Edinburgh in 1986. Mr Lotherington commented in a memo, "A Scout issue would have thrown open the doors to other similar organisations suggesting that the coinage be used to commemorate their centenaries or other significant events; the Commonwealth Games is a one-off situation and hardly likely to create a precedent.”

He added that the Games would have strong Royal patronage and that other Commonwealth countries had issued commemoratives when hosting the Games. The first commemorative two pound coin, celebrating the Games, was duly issued in 1986, reflecting the fact that, even in 1981, the minting of a 25p coin was already uneconomical. The UK’s second commemorative 50p was not minted until 1992, and a Scouting 50p was finally issued in 2007.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2018, 12:24:19 AM »
Nowadays special 50 pence coins and two pound coins circulate in profusion, despite the warnings all those years ago about the “increased possibilities for counterfeiting”. Given the distaste expressed for commercialisation of the coinage, what would the authorities of yesteryear have made of today’s situation, when so many 50 pence designs are devoted to Beatrix Potter’s fictional animals? On the one hand, the Royal Mint must keep up with modern trends or risk losing market share to the other major mints; on the other hand, collectors become used to a high number of commemoratives, as the Isle of Man discovered in 2015, when it received complaints after declining to issue the usual Christmas-themed 50p. By today’s standards, it is difficult to understand the fuss about the rejected UK Scouting 50p, which would have made a charming addition to the coinage.

Offline Alan71

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2018, 12:59:16 AM »
It’s interesting that it was rejected.  This is clearly an indication of why there were no 50p commemoratives between the 1973 EEC one and the EC one of 1992/93.  Clearly the EEC/EC/EU was acceptable to commemorate, as three of the first four commemorative 50p coins did just that.

I’m not sure I like the idea of the existing Britannia design being amended.  Scouting is nothing to do with Britannia.  If there was to be a Scouting 50p, it should have been a new design.

Oh well, it did eventually get commemorated in 2007 for the 100th anniversary.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2018, 01:15:00 AM »
I’m not sure I like the idea of the existing Britannia design being amended.  Scouting is nothing to do with Britannia.  If there was to be a Scouting 50p, it should have been a new design.

I never thought of including that option in my poll. I quite liked the idea of a minor variation to the 50p.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2018, 01:27:30 PM »
This is clearly an indication of why there were no 50p commemoratives between the 1973 EEC one and the EC one of 1992/93.  Clearly the EEC/EC/EU was acceptable to commemorate, as three of the first four commemorative 50p coins did just that.

It's true. The memory of this rejection, and the reasons for it, clearly stayed with the Royal Mint for some years. The EU was still considered an acceptable subject, as you say. The 1994 50p commemorated D Day, which was clearly regarded as a suitable national / international event.

So how then, did we move to today's looser policy for commemoratives, culminating in the animal characters of Beatrix Potter? Here I would like to ask Figleaf his opinion: which was the first commemorative 50p and / or 2 pound coin that you regarded as being in dubious taste, with respect to its theme?

Offline chrisild

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2018, 02:22:24 PM »
The third design ("UK Scout 50p-c.jpg") I find strange. Merely replacing the Union flag on the shield with the Scouts symbol would have been poor. Version B is not that bad but still too subtle for a coin that was (or would have been) supposed to commemorate the anniversary.

Christian

Offline Alan71

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2018, 04:01:37 PM »
Version B would need to have been modified.  The abbreviation “p” has never appeared on a UK coin and I hope it never is.

Another issue I have with this is that 1982 introduced the amended Britannia design, and “Fifty” replaced “New”.  A commemorative at the same time might have caused some confusion - people not aware of what the scout symbol was might have thought it was part of the amended design.

I actually quite like version 3 as it’s the most subtle of the three, but none of them are that clear on what they’re commemorating.  I suppose that follows the 1973 example - a ring of hands wasn’t really in any way obvious that it was commemorating the UK’s entry into the EEC.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2018, 04:01:47 PM »
So would you go for "a" (top image) - or nothing?

Offline Alan71

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2018, 04:04:16 PM »
So would you go for "a" (top image) - or nothing?
I voted No.
However, in order of preference I like design 3 the best and 2 the least.

Offline <k>

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Re: UK Scouting 50 pence proposal for 1982
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2018, 04:05:07 PM »
Another issue I have with this is that 1982 introduced the amended Britannia design, and “Fifty” replaced “New”.  A commemorative at the same time might have caused some confusion - people not aware of what the scout symbol was might have thought it was part of the amended design.

I actually quite like version 3 as it’s the most subtle of the three, but none of them are that clear on what they’re commemorating.  I suppose that follows the 1973 example - a ring of hands wasn’t really in any way obvious that it was commemorating the UK’s entry into the EEC.

Maybe, maybe not. It would have been on the news and in the newspapers, and the public would have noticed it quickly enough.