This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today!
In what would have been his 70th year, music icon John Lennon has beaten a lineup of historical figures to become the next Briton celebrated on a coin.
For the first time in its 1,000-year history, the British Royal Mint asked the public to decide who should join the likes of William Shakespeare, Sir Winston Churchill, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale on its series of coins commemorating British luminaries of the past. More than 30,000 votes were cast with the vast majority – just over 92 percent – nominating Lennon as the icon most deserving of a place in monetary history.
The Beatle benefited from huge support generated online, with music lovers harnessing the power of Internet fan groups and Twitter to make their collective voice heard, the Royal Mint says.
Lennon’s iconic ’60s image has been captured on a silver 5-pound Alderney proof coin. It is made up of 0.925 silver, weighs 28.28 grams and measures 38.61 in diameter. The mintage is set at 5,000.
The coin is an addition to the mint’s Great Britons series that was introduced in 2006 and consists of 24 coins that honor famous Britons.
The Royal Mint is planning to produce a one-off, 24-karat gold version of the coin to be presented to the John Lennon Estate.
Voting began on July 15 and continued for two weeks on a special Royal Mint website. Lennon’s nearest rival, with just 4.2 percent of the vote, was Jane Austen. Emmeline Pankhurst, John Logie Baird, Sir Douglas Bader and Sir Walter Raleigh were also nominated for the public vote.
“It’s entirely fitting that John Lennon has been chosen by the public in what would have been his 70th year,” said Dave Knight, director of commemorative coin at the Royal Mint. “The massive proportion of the vote he received shows clearly just how much his untimely death still resonates with the nation.”