Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Royal Mint reveals new coin designs


When Cranmer first heard that British coins were to be given a makeover, and that the theme was to be heraldry and the Royal Coats of Arms, he was both surprised and delighted that tradition was being upheld and heritage preserved. The Royal Arms has featured in some form on the coinage of every monarch since Edward III - it is a symbol of the Monarch’s authority over the whole of the United Kingdom.

But the new design is manifestly symbolic of a dis-United Kingdom, for the Royal Arms is divided into four parts: England being represented by the three lions passant guardant in the first and fourth quarters, the Scottish lion rampant in the second and the harp of Ireland in the third, with all four quarters spread over the six coins from the 1p to the 50p. It is only in the £1 coin that the shield of the Royal Arms is featured in its entirety, uniting the six fragmented elements into one design.

It is a creation of postmodernity, which evidences a willingness to combine symbols from disparate codes or frameworks of meaning, even at the cost of disjunctions and eclecticism. It embraces spontaneity, fragmentation, superficiality and irony. And it is ironic, if not purposely prophetic, that each of these new designs is meaningless in isolation: the Royal Arms has been carved-up, sliced and diced, fragmented and fractured.

The coins are thereby symbolic of what New Labour has done to the United Kingdom, to the British Constitution, and to the ancient rights and liberties of the British people. From the grandness of unity, purpose, meaning and wholeness which was symbolised by Britannia, we now have the splintered autonomy of micro-narratives; a disparate collection of sub-cultures and designer cults, each with its own language, code and life-style. What a farrago.

34 Comments:

Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

The new coins are dreadful, quite as bad as European currency. Turning the heraldry into abstract patterns is a kind of insult. Is there nothing we can do to stop this?

2 April 2008 at 17:23  
Blogger Cranmer said...

No.

2 April 2008 at 17:27  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

Don't be so grumpy. At least they aren't Euros.

2 April 2008 at 17:56  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

your grace
nice last paragraph , but at least not a euro.

i feel the loss also and i dont know why people dont get that they are losing their freedoms

2 April 2008 at 18:06  
Anonymous Nothos said...

Would the SNP administration at Hollyrood be able to opt out of using these designs over the old ones? It'd be an even greater slap in the face if these weren't even used throughout the whole union...

2 April 2008 at 18:33  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Cracking post Cranners. I for one will not be using these new coins. I will now horde currency.

2 April 2008 at 18:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The old Shilling had two designs: an English version (as per the new design) and a Scottish version in which the Lion Rampant was in the first and third quarters with the Three Leopards in the 2nd Quarter)and the Harp in the Fourth.

I will be interested to see if the design for Gold Britannias or Gold Sovereigns vary

2 April 2008 at 19:26  
Blogger steadmancinques said...

Not one with 'Allah Akhbar' in Arabic script, then?

2 April 2008 at 19:35  
Blogger steadmancinques said...

And remember Lady Frances Stuart, Duchess of Lennox, loved but not possessed by Charles II, described by Samuel Pepys as 'the most beautiful woman I ever saw in my life', and who was the model for 'Britannia'. 320 years is not bad for a modelling career, I suppose.

2 April 2008 at 20:28  
Anonymous Smith Dorrien said...

Dear oh dear ... as I was reading I was waiting for the Daily Mailesque "symbolic of new labour" punchline - and you didn't disappoint.

You used to be original!

2 April 2008 at 20:55  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms Smith Dorrien,

The Daily Mail would not comprehend half of His Grace's final paragraph.

2 April 2008 at 21:00  
Anonymous mickey said...

Is this a Ms H Dorrien Smith who was living off the Kings Road in the '70s?

2 April 2008 at 21:18  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Doesn't matter anyway - our coinage isn't worth jack siht any more anyway.

2 April 2008 at 21:53  
Anonymous dearieme said...

When did people start referring to the historical three leopards of England as three lions? After your time, Sir?

2 April 2008 at 23:29  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

Only Labour woud aprove these designes. Disjointed and split as the have made our country.

2 April 2008 at 23:46  
Blogger haddock said...

I believe Our Dave has said he will restore Britannia to her former position, the new design scheme is nearly as bad as the use of that ugly word 'makeover'
I'm sure there used to be a word 'redesign'

2 April 2008 at 23:58  
Anonymous Geronimo said...

I rather like them.

3 April 2008 at 03:40  
Anonymous Voyager said...

These coins will go the way of the 1/2 pence coin. The debasement of currency could not be more self-evident.

Gorgon Brown is proving a complete disaster as everything unravels. The deconstruction of the United Kingdom is coming too fast for the political parties to survive as the shift towards violence becomes inevitable - after all Northern Ireland exploded over far less

3 April 2008 at 06:57  
Blogger Blackacre said...

Does anyone seriously think that new Labour or Gordon Brown have had anything to do with the choice of these designs? It will be entirely a matter for the Royal Mint and if at all will have been rubber stamped.

I am not yet convinced by the design, but lets see what they are like in the metal and not just on photos - they may grow on us. I remember the howls when the 20p and the £1 coins were introduced but people seem to like them well enough now.

3 April 2008 at 08:45  
Anonymous apathist in the uk said...

I agree with geronimo - I rather like them too.

And I suppose that they could show a positive, united portayal of the United Kingdom, in that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

3 April 2008 at 09:20  
Anonymous Mark Burgess said...

Sir,

A coin designer quoted in the Telegraph wonders if “the uneven distribution of weight over the whole coin will cause difficulties with slot machines which are now so ubiquitous.”

If so, then commerce will kill off these designs, not decency, honour or taste.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/04/02/ncoin202.xml)

3 April 2008 at 09:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it at all possible that you're all reading far too much into this.

I, for one, think they look good.

We've had different bank notes in different parts of Britain for years now. Good luck trying to use Northern Irish bank notes anywhere except (bits of) Scotland.

I was helpfully informed in a Sainsbury's in London that they "don't accept punts." I was amazed that they had a member of staff who a) remembered punts but then b) didn't remember Northern Ireland being on their passport, and failed to comprehend the references to Sterling on the note.

In short, you should all calm down.

3 April 2008 at 11:38  
Anonymous Broon's Talking Bawgie said...

All new coins introduced are always unpopular. After a few months we all settle down and like them.

What concerns me is that logically, if the coins reflect the makeup of the UK, the symbols of the various countries are on the wrong coins.

Scotland's lion should be on the pound, the Welsh dragon should be on the 50p and the leftovers and small change should go to England, accurately reflecting the Barnett formula.

3 April 2008 at 11:59  
Anonymous E said...

As long as it goes "chink" who cares.

3 April 2008 at 12:02  
Blogger Dave said...

"It is a creation of postmodernity, which evidences a willingness to combine symbols from disparate codes or frameworks of meaning, even at the cost of disjunctions and eclecticism. It embraces spontaneity, fragmentation, superficiality and irony. And it is ironic, if not purposely prophetic, that each of these new designs is meaningless in isolation: the Royal Arms has been carved-up, sliced and diced, fragmented and fractured."
As has the Cross

3 April 2008 at 12:37  
Anonymous Voyager said...

It will be entirely a matter for the Royal Mint and if at all will have been rubber stamped.

Wikipedia

The Royal Mint as a body reports to HM Treasury, though departmental day-to-day responsibilities are handled by the Shareholder Executive.

3 April 2008 at 16:52  
Anonymous History Repeats said...

we dont care here in New York

No surprise now Wall Street has engineered a re-run of the 1930s...

They used to tell me I was building a dream, and so I followed the mob,
When there was earth to plow, or guns to bear, I was always there right on the job.
They used to tell me I was building a dream, with peace and glory ahead,
Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?
Once I built a tower, up to the sun, brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Why don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Once in khaki suits, gee we looked swell,
Full of that Yankee Doodly Dum,
Half a million boots went slogging through Hell,
And I was the kid with the drum!

Say, don't you remember, they called me Al; it was Al all the time.
Say, don't you remember, I'm your pal? Buddy, can you spare a dime?


3 April 2008 at 21:08  
Anonymous David Aberdeen said...

I've always viewed Britannia, like Europa, as being too much on the pagan side for my liking...

Quite what the Welsh think of these new designs is another matter.

3 April 2008 at 22:37  
Blogger JJ said...

I think the new designs look unquestionably modern whilst being rooted in centuries of historical tradition. Not a bad achievement and one worth celebrating I believe. That your Grace chose not to was no surprise.

3 April 2008 at 22:39  
Anonymous dame doris toadthrottler said...

Join the Euro - problem solved :D

3 April 2008 at 23:04  
Anonymous Dave said...

I think they look rather good. The reverse of your argument is obviously that while each coin (and by extension part of the Union) can stand on its own, together they are worth much more.
And how British, designed by an amateur and selected by committee...

I note that our American cousins feel we've done rather well in comparison with their recent efforts.

http://www.typography.com/ask/showBlog.php?blogID=93

4 April 2008 at 00:01  
Anonymous Kev said...

They got rid of Britannia so people can't lament over her passing when we change to the Euro. 'Well the designs are only 3 years old anyway, what are we losing...?'

8 April 2008 at 16:07  
Anonymous RJ said...

"They got rid of Britannia so people can't lament over her passing when we change to the Euro. 'Well the designs are only 3 years old anyway, what are we losing...?'"

Aha! Somebody else thought of that one!

I for one am certain that this is the explanation for the redesigning of our coins.

10 April 2008 at 22:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt the crass idiot who thought this was a good idea was one of the few who has had added to the dire situation in the value of the currency as a whole. When will these stupidly overrated overpaid biggoted idiots be taken down a peg or two and instead of being rewarded for belittleing the people of this Great Britain be proud of achievement and encourage others to respect just what this country stands for. I still don't know why what I had three months ago isn't worth what it was and why some smart Alec in banking or money exchanging has made a fortune out of it!

9 February 2009 at 18:28  

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