Author Topic: The design of modern commemorative coins  (Read 1803 times)

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Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2018, 05:29:10 PM »


UK round pound with Northern Irish theme.



Many British commemorative or special (one year) designs have traditionally used heraldic elements. These include royal regalia and stylised national flowers, often used in imaginative fashion.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2018, 05:30:47 PM »



This UK pound coin design was issued to honour Northern Ireland in 1996. It was perhaps one of the most beautiful of all the pound coin series. It looks heraldic yet uses no official heraldic elements. The designer, Norman Sillman, explained:
 
"The Northern Ireland pound was part of a national competition set, with elaborate prohibitions for party reasons. I was in Northern Ireland for a short time near Limavaday, where people were fond of the gold Celtic torque found there. From art history I knew of the pre-Catholic Celtic crosses, and my Irish plant books told me of the Yellow Pimpernel around Loch Neagh. I couldn’t lose! No politics."

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Norman Sillman and the 1996 Northern Irish Pound Coin Design

 
« Last Edit: April 21, 2018, 08:57:37 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2018, 05:34:03 PM »


Apart from heraldry, for a long time the UK also used symbolism on its commemorative coins, in preference to any realistic designs. In 1992 the Royal Mint issued its first circulating fifty pence commemorative since 1973. It celebrated the UK's Presidency of the Council of the European Community Ministers, from 1992 to 1993. The design on the reverse was timidly symbolic, full of banal and simplistic stars and lines, and again typical of the conservative approach of the Royal Mint at the time. Surely the design would only have appealed to a bureaucrat?

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2018, 05:38:39 PM »


UK, 50 pence, 1994.  50th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy.



Eventually the UK did begin to issue realistic pictorial designs. I find these much more attractive and interesting than symbolic or heraldic designs.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2018, 05:45:25 PM »
I have the impression that most commemorative coins restrict their commemorative designs to the reverse of the coin. I may be wrong. However, some commemorative coins feature an original design on both obverse and reverse. Below you see an example, where a new portrait of the Queen was created especially for this UK commemorative 5 pound coin, in honour of her 50 years as Queen.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2018, 05:51:43 PM »


UK, 5 pounds, 2003.  50th anniversary of the Queen's coronation.



The portraits of the Queen are many and varied and have appeared on coins all over the world. Some are masterly while others are best forgotten. Portraits of royalty and statesmen and women feature heavily on commemorative coins, of course. However, this brings me to the next commemorative design element that interests me, after text, symbolism, heraldry, and portraiture: the stylised portrait. The obverse design above showed the Queen as you had never seen her before.

See also: Stylised portraits.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #21 on: March 01, 2018, 06:02:49 PM »
In more modern times, some commemorative designs have been boldly experimental in approach, using stylistic elements that would not be tolerated on circulation coins.





Australia, 50 cents, 1994.  Year of the Family.

Here we see a design in faux naif style, made to look as though it was drawn by a child.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #22 on: March 01, 2018, 06:04:08 PM »








Other commemorative designs have been similarly simplistic.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #23 on: March 01, 2018, 06:07:12 PM »


Russia, 10 rubles, 2010.  Census of 2010.



In this age of the computer and the internet, when we go online we navigate a landscape of icons and avatars. Most coin designs are now prepared on a computer. This experience has clearly influenced some commemorative designs. Is it any wonder that some of them look like a PowerPoint presentation?



See also: Stick men, stick beasts, and faceless people.

 
« Last Edit: March 01, 2018, 06:55:57 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #24 on: March 01, 2018, 06:15:47 PM »
Once upon a time, fictional characters would not have been considered worthy of adorning a nation's coinage. Now even characters from children's stories appear on commemorative coins. In the UK, these have proved very popular and seem to be breeding like, well, rabbits.  :D  However, some may now be wishing for a plague of numismatic myxomatosis to afflict them.

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #25 on: March 01, 2018, 06:34:20 PM »
So here's a thought. Of the UK 5 pound coins, on how many does a non-standard portrait of the Queen appear on the obverse? On how many does she appear on both sides? And on how many does she appear alongside the Duke of Edinburgh?

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #26 on: March 01, 2018, 06:37:42 PM »
Often enough, different commemorative UK 50 pence and 2 pound coins use rearranged legends on the obverse. UK moderator Alan71 has analysed this under-researched subject in a series of topics:

1] UK Decimals: Legend Variations on the 50p Coins

2] Comments on "Legend Variations on the 50p Coins"

3] UK Decimals: Legend Variations on the Round Pounds

4] UK Decimals: Legend Variations on the 2 Pound Coins

5] Comments on "Legend Variations on the 2 Pound Coins"

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #27 on: March 01, 2018, 06:41:29 PM »
With the increasing commercialisation of commemorative coins, mints have sought new ways to bring new (or sometimes old!) designs to the public:


1] Numismatic heritage: old designs honoured on modern commemoratives

2] Official trials and patterns that were sold to collectors

3] Unrealised designs that later became coins

 
 
« Last Edit: March 19, 2018, 10:54:06 PM by <k> »

Offline <k>

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #28 on: March 01, 2018, 06:42:18 PM »
Have you any more thoughts on commemorative designs, or any comments on what I have written?

Online Figleaf

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Re: The design of modern commemorative coins
« Reply #29 on: March 01, 2018, 09:33:52 PM »
Some thoughts...

Design-wise, there is no difference between circulation and commemorative coins, except that the message of circulation coins is "I am issued by the government of country A to serve as a B amount of money" and the message of commemorative coins is "I am issued by the government of country A and I commemorate C". The challenge of the designer is to express the message in an effective and elegant way.

Effective means that the design should convey the message in a clear and unequivocal way. My personal preference amounts to simplicity, not too detailed, but understandable. As Einstein may have put it: everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler. Thoughtless copies of a pretty picture in metal do not meet the effectiveness requirement.

Elegant means that the design captures the essence of what is commemorated. A coin has much less place than a Wikipedia page, so it should concentrate on the essential. The essential of a non-ruler person on a coin is his or her achievements. See the Finnish Schjerfbeck coin as an example. Her portrait reflects her work, not her life. The portrait of a ruler is a symbol, more than a portrait. Like any good portrait, it should highlight the person's character, but also the function. Even abstracted, it should be recognisable.

With events, it is even clearer. The essential is what the event is about, not that there is an event. Logos may reflect the purpose of the event adequately or not. They may need a clarifying text or picture. Good example: the German commemorative on unification, with a "sound effect" of stick men shouting "Wir sind ein Volk".

Ideas are the most abstract and the most rewarding when it's well done. Everything must point to the idea and the idea itself must be clear to the observer. Good example: the French commemorative on liberty, which has Marianne with her Phrygian cap reciting a poem on the subject.

In the pursuit of conveying the message, anything can be used. Yet, some ideas don't support the message, like a map and others look stilted, like a plain text. Ideas that work add sound, movement, a third dimension or even an insight. That doesn't make the task of the designer easy, but who said it should be?

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