The quintessentially British fictional character James Bond has been popularized in the longest-running movie franchise in history that has grossed billions of dollars at the box office and now he's coming to collections around the world.
James Bond – known by his codename 007 – is the most famous secret agent in history. The quintessentially British fictional character has been popularized in the longest-running movie franchise in history that has grossed billions of dollars at the box office. For six decades, fans have been delighted with this suave spy who loves fast cars and beautiful women. The character is known for saving the world on behalf of British spy agency MI6, where he is part of “00” branch, whose agents have a license to kill when necessary.
The character was created by former British World War II naval intelligence officer, journalist and novelist Ian Fleming. He also happened to be an avid bird watcher, naming the character for an American ornithologist called James Bond. Fleming, whose Bond novels were global bestsellers, died in 1964, just as his character was developing a global following on film.
Until recently, James Bond had only appeared on a Royal Mint 10-pence piece issued as part of the Mint’s very popular “Quintessentially British A to Z” series that was released both into circulation and as collector versions. This lack of Bond themed coins was surprising, especially given the rising number of coins that depict icons of popular culture issued over the past decade. Timed to coincide with the new movie, the Perth Mint in Australia and The Royal Mint, in Bond’s beloved Britain, have finally given collectors a variety of silver and gold coins that pay proper tribute to 007.
In February of 2020, the Perth Mint launched its own Bond coin series with a stylish design by Lucas Bowers that combines the famous gun barrel from the opening sequence of each movie with the iconic 007 gun logo (designed by James Carof of United Artists). In the iconic design, the “7” looks like a Walther PKK, a German gun Bond first used in Dr. No. Dr. No was the first Bond novel issued in 1953 and would go on to become the first film adaptation in 1962.
This design appears on 1 oz. silver and 1 oz. gold bullion coins issued for Tuvalu as well as a 1 oz. high relief silver proof pieces, all with limited mintages. The silver bullion mintage is limited to 30,000, with 10% of them issued in a special black carded version; the gold bullion limited is to 5,000 with 500 in the card presentation, and just 5,000 of the silver High Relief Proof coins will be struck. Each has been a strong seller to date.
Then on March 2, 2020 The Royal Mint launched its extensive James Bond commemorative coin range with coins for every collector’s budget. The series includes four original designs issued in both silver and gold, in a variety of sizes and versions that aim to convey the essential, unchanging elements of James Bond over the decades, as well as the ways he and the films have evolved.
The coins were made using a combination of traditional engraving methods and modern coin minting technologies such as laser frosting of certain design elements. Interest in these coins has been very high among collectors within the United Kingdom and around the world, with many of them selling out within hours or days of their release from the Mint.
Both the first coin of an interconnecting 3-coin series and what the Mint calls its Special Issue coins, have a design that depicts Bond’s famous Aston Martin DB5 car. The first of the 3-coin set shows a side view of the car, while the second coin features the Lotus Esprit submarine car featured in the Spy Who Loved Me that went underwater. The third coin of this set shows Bond’s famous tuxedo jacket and bow tie.
Inscriptions for each coin are respectively: “Bond, James Bond” on the first coin, as the character said in the novel of Casino Royale; “Pay Attention 007” on the second, a phrase frequently said by gadget guru Q to Bond in many films as he explained what new toys Bond had each time; and “Shaken not Stirred” (the only way Bond likes his Martinis made) on the third. In addition, behind each design element is the first “O” on the first coin, “O7” on the second, and the gun barrel attached to the “7” on the third coin. When viewed side by side, the message is clear.
Those three coins were issued in ½ oz. and 1 oz. silver proof versions and in a 1 oz copper-nickel uncirculated version, along with a ¼ oz. and 1 oz. gold proof. A special version issued in 2 oz. silver and 2 oz. gold proofs were released in which there is micro-text within the “O,” “O7” and gun barrel that has the names of all 25 Bond films. Mintages range from unlimited for the copper-nickel to 15,017 for the ½ oz silver, 8,517 for the 1 oz proof silver, 1067 for the ¼ oz gold, 360 for the 1 oz gold, 2,017 for the 2 oz .silver, and finally, 260 for the 2 oz. gold.
These three coins were created by Matt Dent, who previously designed other coins for the Mint, such as the 2012 Charles Dickens coin, and Christian Davies, a graphic artist who has never before designed coins. Both said they are Bond fans, especially of Daniel Craig’s Bond, and that the coins presented certain challenges such as finding the right balance between the details of designs and what can actually be produced on a coin, “nowhere more so than the intricate spokes if the DB5’s wheel.”
The amazing Special Issue range begins with 5 oz. silver and 5 oz .gold versions, and also includes a 1 oz., 2 oz., and a whopping 7-kilo gold coin – the largest the mint has issued in its 1100-plus year history with the largest denomination ever at £7,000!
These coins were created by 14-year Royal Mint veteran and trained artist Laura Clancy who previously designed the coins for the recent British Landmarks series and the 2018 UK Remembrance coin paying tribute to the soldiers who died in World War I. She said: “I am a huge James Bond fan. When the opportunity to design a Bond coin came along, I had to take on the challenge. I’ve found it an incredible privilege – my career high to date and my most successful project.”
Clancy was tasked to create a design with a contemporary look and worked with EON Productions [A British company, which produced the films] throughout the project. In the end, she chose a stunning front view of the Aston Martin DB5, showing the license plate number “BMT 216A” with the iconic gun barrel tunnel in the background. She said she went with this design because: “Bond is a combination of thrills and style – I think the gun barrel and DB5 are synonymous with that.”
With their dynamic, stylish designs, the new Bond coins are a big hit with coin collectors and fans of the movie series who are delighted to finally have fitting numismatic tributes to 007.
“The Royal Mint launches its James Bond collection with a first – a 7 kilo gold coin,” Royal Mint press release, March 2, 2020
Author Name: Louis Golino
Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and and other publications. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.