We love it when a new piece of design appears that could influence other areas of life, and the recent introduction of the new 12-sided £1 coin is a great example.
It’s hard to think of other items that have 12 sides. There is the threepenny bit, which ceased being legal tender back in 1971, the early thirteenth century Vera Cruz church of Segovia in Spain and Venus’s Gate in Spello, Italy. Then of course there is the 12-sided shape, the dodecagon. But if you look at other currencies you’ll actually find the Australians, Fijians, Tongans and Croatians already have coins with 12 sides
We have often found that clients surprise us with their views on design. So often they’ll choose the design that we like least, and it’s clear that for many clients the decision is subjective. Yet agencies – including us – have spent thousands on focus groups and research to define exactly what type of design will appeal most to a particular audience.
The Royal Mint conducted a ten-week public consultation, which looked at the physical and material characteristics of the coin, and the results were used to justify the chosen look and feel.
The 12-sides were actually something proposed in 2014 alongside 3 other security features. The even number of sides actually rang warning bells for vending and parking respondents, because sensors would not cope well with a coin of varying diameter. So the Mint countered this with a design that has rounded edges called ‘radial chords’ and corners. These create the right rolling behaviour, reduced wear and tear on machines and provide fewer jamming risks – although tests with RNIB showed no significant difference in recognition to blind people.
They chose a diameter of 23.5mm because that’s exactly the mid-point between the old £1 coin, at 22.5mm and the 10p coin, which is 24.5mm – it seems like a mathematical decision rather than a rational one for something so important.
Other design features are much as you expect from a British coin. There is the Queen’s profile, a bit of Latin and a shiny metallic feel. Again, there are rare exceptions – plastic coinage is issued by the Republic of Transnistria, a break-away Russian enclave territory that in 1992 declared its independence from the Republic of Moldova.
And of course, should you ever want to calculate the area of a £1 coin to make your own, then use this formula – where ‘a’ is 5mm.