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All images courtesy of the Royal Mint.
Britain’s £1 coin will get a midlife makeover in 2023, the Royal Mint announced May 10.
The ringed-bimetallic coin will feature a new design by Kenyan-born British artist Michael Armitage, the first design change for the coin since the current version debuted in 2017 to replace the “round pound” that first appeared in 1983.
United Kingdom Chancellor Rishi Sunak named Armitage as the designer of the new £1 coin after the design was chosen by an independent panel with expertise in coin design and art. The panel was established to advise the chancellor on the artistic merits and ideas behind proposals put forward by selected candidates.
The new design will celebrate the culture, creativity, heritage and history of the UK in the 21st century. The design will be unveiled this fall, with the coin to enter circulation in early 2023.
When, in 2017, the 12-sided coin replaced the former “round pound,” it introduced a range of anti-counterfeit features. The new £1 design will retain these safety measures and feature the current (fifth) effigy of Queen Elizabeth II (by Jody Clark) on the obverse.
The Royal Mint will also release a special collector’s edition to coincide with the launch in early 2023.
The son of a Yorkshireman father and Kikuyu mother, Michael Armitage was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1984 and now lives and works both in London and Nairobi. He trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and the Royal Academy Schools. In January 2022, the Royal Academy of Arts, London, elected him a Royal Academician in the category of painting.
As coin artist, Armitage said: “It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to collaborate with The Royal Mint on the design of the new £1 coin. It is an honour to be part of the lineage of coin-making in the United Kingdom and I am grateful to the Chancellor and the selection panel for the opportunity to contribute to this history in considering what it is to be part of Great Britain today.”
Speaking at the official opening of the RCA’s Rausing Research and Innovation Centre, Sunak said: “I am delighted that Michael will lend his vision to the creation of this new £1 coin design in its 40th anniversary year. This coin will symbolise the rich tapestry of modern Britain and honour our deep heritage and history.”
Chief executive of the Royal Mint Anne Jessopp said in a press release: “The £1 coin is a symbol of Britain that is recognised around the world. As such we are delighted to work with Michael Armitage to create a new design that celebrates the people of Britain and our diverse culture. It is the first new £1 design since 2017 and will combine our 1,100 years of craftsmanship, with cutting edge design to champion modern Britain.”
The nickel-brass (copper, nickel and zinc) round pound coin debuted April 21, 1983, replacing the bank note of the same denomination.
In total, 25 different designs were employed on the coin before the current Nations of the Crown design debuted on the ringed-bimetallic coin March 28, 2017 (though released in 2017, many if not most of the first issue are dated 2016).
Full details of the history and previous designs of the £1 coin can be found at a special page on the Royal Mint’s website, www.royalmint.com/discover/uk-coins/coin-design-and-specifications/one-pound-coin/.
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