July 7, 2016 – As Britain builds towards the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London, The Royal Mint has struck precious metal variants of the £2 coin that marks the occasion, following on from the earlier issue of the Brilliant Uncirculated coin.
Great Britain / £2 / .925 silver (outer plated with fine gold) / 12g / 28.4mm / Design Jody Clark (obverse), Aaron West (reverse) / Mintage: 10,500. © Royal Mint.
The Great Fire of London £2 captures the moment 350 years ago when devastation hit London and its inhabitants were forced to ‘leave all to the fire’. This dramatic event brought about destruction that would go on to shape the iconic skyline of the London we know today.
Ludgate in flames, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance (square tower without the spire) now catching flames. Oil painting by anonymous artist, ca. 1670.
Anne Jessopp, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin, said: “The Royal Mint was based in the Tower of London at the time, and provided a safe haven when the Great Fire took hold, so it is fitting that we are to commemorate this famous event in British history with the creation of The Great Fire of London £2 coin. We are particularly proud that the honour of designing this coin has been won by Royal Mint designer, Aaron West.”
Great Britain / £2 / .916.7 gold (inner: yellow, outer: red) / 15.97g / 28.4mm / Design Jody Clark (obverse), Aaron West (reverse) / Mintage: 1,000. © Royal Mint.
The coin design, by Royal Mint designer Aaron West, carries the fifth portrait of Her Majesty The Queen on its obverse. The coins, already available in Brilliant Uncirculated editions, are now to be struck in Limited Edition Presentation Gold Proof (800 coins), Silver Proof (7,500 coins) and Silver Proof Piedfort (3,500 coins) editions. The public can expect to see the circulating version of the design appear in their pocket change later this year.
The designer’s inspiration
Aaron West is a member of The Royal Mint’s own design studio. After achieving a degree in Graphic Design, Aaron worked in retail advertising, graphic design and teaching before taking up a career at The Royal Mint. This is Aaron’s first commemorative UK coin design.
Detail of the Great Fire of London by an unknown painter, depicting the fire as it would have appeared on the evening of Tuesday, 4 September 1666 from a boat in the vicinity of Tower Wharf. The Tower of London is on the right and London Bridge on the left, with St Paul’s Cathedral in the distance, surrounded by the tallest flames.
For this commemorative reverse, Aaron West has captured the devastating scenes of the time from the perspective of one of the Londoners seeking sanctuary on the Thames.
“I knew that researching the Great Fire of London wouldn’t be problematic as there is so much research material and literature on the subject. It’s such a well-known story. I began with the skyline of London, looking at the modern and old to create the design’s central point. The whole scene is viewed as if from one of these boats, gazing back at the chaos on the shore.”
For more information on the coin go to the Royal Mint website.
The Great Fire was one of London’s pivotal moments in history and so even today’s London Fire Brigade has dedicated a section in their museum and website to this historical event.
In this video famous ‘biographer’ of London, Peter Ackroyd explains how The Great Fire and WWII bombing have shaped modern London.