THE ‘UNDERPOUND': UK national mint issues London Underground £2 coin
The Royal Mint, official producer of coinage for the United Kingdom, has announced the release of a duo of two-pound coins to commemorate the London Underground’s 150th anniversary. The bimetallic coins, which are the largest denomination normally found in British purses and wallets, will be distributed at selected Underground stations. They are predicted to be highly sought after by coin collectors as well as tourists looking for the ultimate London souvenir. There will be two distinctive designs used along with the Queen’s profile by Ian Rank-Broadley that is standard for all U.K. coinage.
A definitive issue two-pound coin.
The two iconic images were shortlisted by the Royal Mint’s design team at their headquarters in Llantrisant, Wales. They are a 3D interpretation of the famous London Underground roundel influenced by a 1938 poster illustrated by eminent graphic artist Man Ray.Two years appear on both coins – 1863, the year which saw the opening of the commuter line in west London that was the forerunner of the current Metropolitan line, and 2013, the coins’ year of issue. The other design depicts the front of an older stock Tube train as it travels through one of the over 150 kilometres of tunnel that carries millions of passengers every day.
Both coins were prepared with the help of London Underground’s experts in collaboration with Transport for London, with a team of three designers labouring on the final elements of artwork. The roundel coin’s creator, Edwina Ellis, is a printmaker and former ‘Art on the Underground‘ artist who has helped promote the visual arts to millions of the train network’s commuters. The train coin was the brainchild of Barber and Osgerby, the same duo who developed the torches used in the relays at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This dynamic design is based on a detailed observation of a 1967 Victoria line train. Both coins also carry the distinctive reeding and edge inscriptions employed for all two-pound coins, one inscription reading “MIND THE GAP”.
A London Tube train, immortalised on one of the new £2 coin issues by the Royal Mint.
The coins will be distributed through change at ticket machines to the general public but special folders containing proof examples are also being sold to collectors online exclusively through the Royal Mint’s website. The commemorative booklets include a double-sided poster detailing the Underground’s history and features a close-up of Tower Hill station as shown on the world-famous iconic Tube map designed by Harry Beck. Tower Hill, situated on the District Line, was the nearest station to Royal Mint’s former site near the Tower of London, which it abandoned in the Sixties after centuries of service to the Crown.
People who discover the coins in their change during their commute are being encouraged by the Mint to tweet their discovery using the hashtag “#Tubecoin” or alternatively leave a comment on its Facebook page.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to copyright reasons, we are unable to furnish pictures of these coins alongside the article, but you can view these beautifully iconic coins on the source links listed below.
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“Take a ride with the Underpound” – London Evening Standard 25/1/2013
“London Underground 2013 UK £2 Two-Coin Set” – Royal Mint LINK
“New £2 London Underground Coins In Circulation” – Rachel Holdsworth, The Londonist (forums) LINK