For the first time in its 1,100 year long history the Royal Mint is releasing a series of coins, designed by members of the British public, into nationwide circulation.
Depicting the power and passion of the world’s greatest sporting event, the 50p coins showcase each of the 29 Olympic and Paralympic sports to be contested during London 2012.
From the speed of the Velodrome to the excitement of the athletics track, from the grace of beam, bars and vault to the sweat of the coxless fours, the drama of each sport has been captured on millions of coins released today into pockets and purses across the land.
Set to become a long lasting legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the coins will also inspire a new generation of collectors, as part of London 2012’s official range of merchandise.
Almost 30,000 designs were submitted to the Royal Mint following the launch of a public competition in January 2009. After months of debate and consultation the final 29 coin designs were chosen anonymously by a panel made up of independent experts, representatives of the Royal Mint, London 2012 and the International Olympic Committee.
The winning designs feature images of all the official Olympic sports of London 2012 such as Athletics, Gymnastics, Sailing and Swimming, as well as Paralympic sports such as Boccia and Goalball.
The winners come from a diverse range of professions, backgrounds and locations across the country, including a policeman from Manchester, a delivery driver from Reading, a radiologist from Stoke, a bank clerk from Preston, a part time chef from Cornwall, an agronomist from Yorkshire and a 75 year old retired social worker from Derby.
The collection also makes history by featuring designs from a 10 year old schoolgirl from Bristol and a 16 year old student from Pembrokeshire; the first child and teenager to design a circulating coin of the realm.
Since its introduction 41 years ago when decimalisation was established, only 16 designs have featured on the nation’s 50p. The 29 London 2012 coins appearing in 2010 and 2011 represent the biggest, concurrent range of designs the Royal Mint has ever featured on a circulating coin. And like every UK coin in use today, each design also had to obtain final approval from the Treasury and Her Majesty The Queen.
Dave Knight, the Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin, said: "Every one of our twenty nine winners is making history. Their coins will become treasured mementos of the biggest sporting event to happen on UK shores in a generation, and will be around for generations to come.
"Every coin captures the spirit, excitement and passion of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. In isolation each is a work of art, together they are an inspirational portrait of a sporting phenomenon. The Royal Mint is immensely proud to be part of London 2012 and we’re thrilled that this competition has enabled ordinary people to play a part too."
London 2012 chairman Lord Coe said: “Coins are a part of the fabric of our daily life, so to have a range of coins designed specifically to celebrate London 2012 is a huge honour, made all the more special by the fact that members of the public have designed them. The 50p’s will be part of a long-lasting, wide-reaching cultural legacy that will benefit the entire nation and I’m looking forward to finding the first one in my change and collecting the entire range."
Visit www.royalmint.com/sportscollection to view all 29 coins, learn more about the series and the designers and start your collection.
About The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint is a department of government and its primary responsibility remains the provision of the United Kingdom coinage. Its reputation, however, extends beyond this and internationally it has a reputation for making some fascinating coins for over 100 countries.
The history of the Royal Mint itself stretches back over 1100 years. There is an unbroken link from the scattered workshops of the moneyers of Anglo-Saxon London to a single mint within the Tower of London, from a purpose-built premises at Tower Hill to the huge modern coining plant in South Wales.
In April 1975 the Mint was established as a Government Trading Fund, operationally very similar to a government-owned company.