Page last updated at 15:02 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 16:02 UK

Coin designer's 'dream come true'

George Herd
BBC Wales news

Matthew Dent with new coin
From a forwarded website link, to a piece of art in everyone's pocket, it has been a fascinating journey
Matthew Dent

It was a chance e-mail from a friend, but it's changing the money in our pockets and the fortunes of young designer Matthew Dent.

The 26-year-old from Gwynedd beat 4,000 entries after being sent details of a competition to revamp the Royal Mint's coins, from the penny to the pound.

The Royal Mint has officially announced that production of Matthew's coins is now underway at its Llantrisant HQ.

"It really is a dream come true," insisted the graphic designer.

"It's an amazing opportunity. As a graphic designer your ambition is to make a mark in your field, you want to produce something that becomes part of people's lives.

"It feels like a wonderful point for me, I think it is going to take a little while to get used to things."

Matthew Dent has designed for the whole range of coins

The Bangor-born designer started on the road to this glittering prize as a student studying art at Coleg Menai, before completing a graphic design degree at the University of Brighton.

Now living and working in the profession in London, he first became aware of the hunt for new designs for British coins when a friend dropped him an email with details of the competition.

"I'd had an idea ticking away about a single design spread over several coins, and whereby arranging them in a certain way might produces a composite image," explained Matthew, as his designs were unveiled for the very first time.

"Since heraldry has been the basis of coinage design in Britain for hundreds of years, I wondered about a heraldic solution. This seemed to work successfully in my mind."

It certainly impressed the panel put together to judge the competition, who invited him to develop his ideas.

The current designs of six coins from 1p to 50p
The billions of existing coins will stay in circulation

The result is his re-invention of the Royal Arms, split across seven coins.

"The analogy I always try to use is that it is like a jigsaw," he explained.

"The different elements of the jigsaw come together to form one complete image and that's what happens in this case.

"The different elements of the shield of the Royal Arms which appear on the coins, once arranged, form the complete shield."

The decision to use his designs has netted Matthew a one-off fee of 35,000 from the Royal Mint.

It is the first new design for many of the coins in more than 40 years and Matthew called the whole process an incomparable privilege.

"I have seen my designs being transformed from graphic images, to large scale three-dimensional plaster models, to actual size coins," he said.

"From a forwarded website link, to a piece of art in everyone's pocket, it has been a fascinating journey, an education, and thoroughly enjoyable."

Andrew Stafford, chief executive of the Royal Mint said the new coins had been "beautifully designed".

"They are contemporary yet retain the gravitas and reference to history required for the United Kingdom's coins."




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