A very British bear
Continuing a Royal Mint tradition of honoring characters from famous books for children, this summer saw the release of two different coins featuring that most iconic and beloved British bear, Paddington.
Paddington was originally from Darkest Peru. After stowing himself in the lifeboat of a ship going to the United Kingdom, he arrived at Paddington Station in London. There he met his new family, the Brown’s. He loves being in London because there is plenty of marmalade – a British favorite food -- to be found there.
The Paddington collection is being issued to mark the 60th anniversary of the debut of Michael Bond’s book, A Bear Called Paddington, which featured illustrations by Peggy Fortnum. Since the publication of the first book, Paddington has not only been a part of the childhoods of many British people but has also become an icon of Britain recognized around the world and the character of several films that both children and adults enjoyed. This polite and curious bear, who wears a red bush hat and a blue duffle coat, makes friends wherever he goes. He is famous for his adventures in London, especially around Britain’s famous landmarks, which include going to Buckingham Palace, where he met and formed a special relationship with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
These official, legal tender coins honor and celebrate the kind-hearted bear. They were issued with two different designs and were also issued in two metals aimed at different collector budgets. One is an 8-gram, .925 (sterling) silver Proof with a 50 pence denomination, and the other, for those on a limited budget, is the same weight and denomination but is made of cupro-nickel (often called clad) and has a brilliant uncirculated finish. Both coins in each metal have the same diameter of 27.30 millimeters and like all British 50 pence coins issued since 1969 are in the shape of an equilateral heptagon, which has seven sides, designed to make it easily distinguishable from other denominations.
In their original Royal Mint presentation, the silver coins come in an acrylic block to display them along with a story card and certificate of authenticity and housed in a special Paddington-themed gift box. The copper-nickel coin comes in a colorful folder with details about the bear and his story.
The silver coins each have a maximum authorized mintage of 75,000 coins, including what the mint calls a limited- edition presentation of 60,000 each. These levels were determined based on customer demand.
The Paddington collection of coins is licensed by the Vivendi group, which owns the Paddington brand.
The Paddington coins feature a beautiful color image of the famous bear in his trademark hat and coat on the reverse of each coin against a silver background.
The Paddington at the Station coin shows him smiling and sitting on a bench at the train station for which he is named with a train and the station in the background.
Paddington at Buckingham Palace shows him smiling and excitedly waving the Union Jack flag of the UK with a background depicting the palace.
Like all UK coins the obverse of each coin features a portrait of the Queen – in this case the fifth one to appear on British coins that was designed by Jody Clark.
The designer of the reverse images is David Knapton, a Royal Mint coin designer who submitted his design as part of an internal competition at the mint. He said about the inspiration for his designs: “I loved reading the books about Paddington when I was younger and felt a real sense of nostalgia as I was designing these coins. Paddington was part of my childhood, but now he’s being discovered by a whole new generation. I wanted to bring his portrait to life and show him in a very realistic environment, so I began with a modern train at Paddington Station, showing Paddington waiting patiently on his battered suitcase for his new life to begin.” After he submitted his two designs, they were reviewed by the external advisory committee, which made the final design selections and were then approved by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee and received final approval from her Majesty the Queen.
These coins will be highly collectible and will make great gifts for children and adults. Expect them to go quickly.