Hemming campaigns for Britannia coin comeback

by Stephen Tall on February 9, 2009

Has Britannia been missing form your life? Last year, the Royal Mint removed the image of Britannia from the UK’s coins, where her image has appeared since 1672. Now Lib Dem MP John Hemming has launched a new campaign to restore Britannia to her rightful place. I kid you not. The Birmingham Post reports:

John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) wants Britannia to make a comeback and believes the £2 coin would be the perfect place for her return. The campaign has won the support from MPs of all parties after setting out his proposal in a House of Commons motion.

Britannia was removed from the 50p piece as part of a revamp of the nation’s currency last year, when new designs were introduced for every British coin. On one side is the Queen’s head, while the other features part of a coat of arms showing the symbols of the UK nations. If all the coins are placed side by side, the full coat of arms can be seen.

But the revamp has meant that many traditional features of our coins have been lost, including the portcullis on the one penny piece and the lion on the 10p coin. The loss of Britannia from the 50p coin has been the most controversial change, and provoked staunch criticism when the changes were announced.

Mr Hemming said: “She has been on coins in Britain for 2,000 years, since Roman times. At the moment, the £2 coin has an Olympic symbol but that will change after the Games in 2012, and that’s when we should bring back Britannia. However, she should never have been removed from our coins in the first place.”

Here’s an alternative suggestion: Britannia should make a re-appearance when the UK adopts the Euro. Any takers…?

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Yeah, I expect to see Britannia on the Euro at about the same time as we see Helvetia there.

by Alex Foster on February 9, 2009 at 11:50 pm. Reply #

I think Britannia should make a come-back, provided she has the face of Margaret Thatcher.

by Anonymous on February 9, 2009 at 11:55 pm. Reply #

We should have much more variety in our coinage but I do agree that traditional images like Britannia ought to carry on being used alongside modern alternatives.

I hope when we do finally adopt the Euro that we are able to have a variety of designs rather than the very dull “map” design teamed up with the Queen’s head.

Still – it isn’t my main political concern!

by Benjamin on February 10, 2009 at 1:29 am. Reply #

Each participating country in the eurozone has its own national design(s) on the obverse side of the euro coins it mints. The reverse side is standardised, showing the value of the coin.

The different designs circulate freely within the whole eurozone and, since the euro was first introduced, it has become increasingly common to find a mixture in one’s loose change.

Were Britain to join the euro, it would therefore be free to choose whatever design(s) it wanted on the obverse. Britannia could appear on all or some of the coins. And as the years went by, British euro coins would increasingly be found throughout the eurozone.

There is at least one souvenir shop in Brussels that sells mint sets of ‘British’ euro coins for collectors. These feature the Queen’s head on the obverse. I do not know whether such coins are legal tender but, since the sets are expensive, it is unlikely anyone would want to put them into general circulation.

And if you are feeling really flush, you can buy mint sets of euro coins from the Vatican and Monaco!

by Simon Titley on February 10, 2009 at 10:09 am. Reply #

With 70% opposition to joining the Euro, I think it’s best to stick to designs for Sterling coins for the next decade or two, don’t you?

by robertclondon on February 10, 2009 at 12:08 pm. Reply #

Tempting to suggest that Yardley must be a jolly happy place, and prosperous, if coin design is a priority for the local MP ……

by crewegwyn on February 10, 2009 at 7:32 pm. Reply #

Simon – I know about the “common obverse” – it’s silly, ugly and presumes all European citizens are stupid – the Euro should get rid of it and let countries pick their own designs for both sides.
As things stand it would be pretty unthinkable for Britain not to end up with the Queen or at least a royal monogram as our design so I fear Britannia would lose out.
Coin design isn’t a major political “hot button”, I know, but since coinage is usually the only for of art we handle every day, they should at least look nice!

by Benjamin on February 11, 2009 at 10:08 am. Reply #

Until or unless the UK opts by democratic mandate to go for the Euro then I fully support John Hemming defence of Britannia, particularly on the 50 p coin.

As a Walthamstow Cllr. I draw attention to
Elizabeth Fry and Thomas Fowell Buxton Liberal M.P. on the £5 note.

by Cllr Patrick Smith on February 22, 2009 at 6:33 pm. Reply #

I work with adults who have learning difficulties. Many of them are now unable to identify the value of the new coins because the numbers have been removed. They are also less able to discriminate between UK currency and others such as the euro and US currency. I think that the change has discriminated against people who have learning difficulties, which is counter to the spirit if not the letter of Disability Discrimination legislation.

by Helen Hayhoe on March 19, 2009 at 9:52 pm. Reply #

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