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Animal designs in sets and mixed thematic sets

Started by <k>, June 01, 2022, 04:24:41 PM

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It looks like you want to see the set as a whole, while designers and their patrons look at the set as consisting of several sub-sets, formed by metal/colour. That approach is historically correct. Coins of a different metal were treated almost as different currencies, both in Asia and in Europe.

To draw the design into the distinction may be a useful mnemonic that supports the colour differences. After all, after 1816, people have become increasingly intolerant of "heavy" coins, which reduces the available range if diameters. Easy and cheap international travel reduced the number of available diameters even more. If you don't want to be pestered by foreign coins turning up in vending machines, having a number of colours/designs types available is helpful, in particular in regions where animosity with neighbouring countries is stronger than international co-operation.

Another thing is national symbols. They are not nearly the same as heraldry. What you see as a monument on a Singaporean coin is at least as much a national symbol  as the funny hat on the Guernsey 50p. I find the windmill in the Guernsey series more of an odd-man-out, like the 1 cent in the Singapore set you show, but in Singapore you can at least use the colour argument.

So what to say about a series ending with a Roman (or Stuart era) personification of the nation, an Elizabethan ship and a wren?

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


Yes, people have different views on these matters. I believe, though, that since the 1980s there has been more emphasis on the overall aesthetics of national coin sets. An increasing number of very stylish thematic sets have been issued since then, even by the Latin Americans, who used to prefer coins featuring their old national military heroes with whiskers and high collars, and Arab countries, who mostly preferred their coins plain or with arabesque motifs. Certainly the Royal Mint Advisory Committee in the UK likes to look at a set as a whole.

As for "the series ending with a Roman (or Stuart era) personification of the nation, an Elizabethan ship and a wren", yes, I recognise that UK set that I used as a child in the 1960s. I know now that the wren came from a rejected "royal animals" proposed set, and the ship on the halfpenny was another one-off design.

See: UK Royal Animals: Rejected Designs of 1936.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.