Creative Director Dominic Jones discusses the inspiration behind the new collection, Tutamen, his second collection for 886 by The Royal Mint.
Tell us about your initial concept for the Tutamen collection.
The inspiration for the collection is the story of the redesign of British coinage. Most people take for granted the design of a coin and don’t know the history behind its change, and the collection tells the two parts of the story. Before the re-design in the 17th century, silver and gold coins were like flat pancakes and clever people started to realise that the value was in the visual circle, rather than the coin itself, so they began to trim the coins smaller and smaller to steal the valuable material from the outside edge.
How did the practice of coin clipping translate into a redesign of the coinage?
There is a reference I found in my research, which is of “The Toenail Hoard” from the Forest of Dean, a tangled, chaotic collection of the stolen edges of coins. There were harsh consequences of stealing the edge of coins at the time, it was considered an act of treason, so you were risking your life to do so. Yet it was happening on such an industrial scale that the value of the British currency at that time, which continued to circulate at face value, no longer related to the decreasing amount of precious metal in the coins. Our money was worth what it said it was. It became such an important issue coins had to be reworked and redesigned.
The image of the chaos of the stolen hoard, and the order of the milled edge with its solid depth and controlled rim around the coin, is what’s represented in the designs.