Widespread ignorance of Britons regarding their coins

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September 19, 2013 – Half of adults have no idea what is depicted on the coins in their pockets, being completely unaware of the works of art they carry around with them every day. As The Royal Mint launches its new 50p, £1 and £2 Collector Albums, research from the organisation shows that 48% didn’t know that there were eight different coin denominations in current circulation, whilst 68% couldn’t name the design that features on the current 1p coin.

Added to this, an incredible 17% of people (or 10.7 million people in the UK) had no idea that Queen Elizabeth II appears on every current British circulating coin, despite her face having featured for 60 years, with her first portrait being engraved in 1953.

Instead 4% said they believed Queen Victoria’s face was on current coinage, with 3% (1.9 million people in the UK) going so far as to think it was former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

If any further proof was needed that Britons are unaware of the works of art in their pocket 13% thought the Queen’s image was designed by Damien Hirst, with a further 11% going for Tracey Emin, ignoring the current artist – Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.

Coin designs and designers are chosen after a rigorous selection process run by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, whose panel includes eminent artists, sculptors and painters and of which Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a long-term President. Since coins remain in circulation for almost 40 years, the change can therefore be said to represent the long-term distribution of public art on a very large scale.

Shane Bissett, Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint comments: ‘Our research shows that despite the fact that coins are found in every British household, and we use them day in and day out, many people just don’t pay them any attention at all. Our new 50p, £1 and £2 Collector Albums are the perfect way for people to start appreciating the beautiful works of art that are in our pockets and enjoying the coins that are in circulation.
‘We want to encourage the nation to take note of what is lining their pockets and realise that there are many coins that are worth looking out for. There really are some rare images on our coins worth admiring and collecting and it’s a great way for all of us to build our own private art galleries.’

The story comes as The Royal Mint launches its new Collector Albums, perfect to help people cherish the coins in their pocket, building knowledge on the world of coin collecting and some of the incredible designs Briton’s could have in their possession.

The Royal Mint has been making coins for over 1100 years, yet 13% thought the Bank of England made the coins in their pocket. The research also revealed that two thirds of British people did not know that there were three portraits of the Queen currently in circulation.

To learn more about the research please click here.

And you should also visit the website of The Royal Mint.