Isaac Newton is one of the world’s foremost scientists, one who revolutionized physics and paved the way for centuries of new research. The United Kingdom Royal Mint will celebrate his achievements with a new 50p coin.
Just as we were sad about the withdrawal of the Charles Darwin bancnote from the UK, they make it up to us with the new Newton coin. Because this year marks the 375th anniversary of the birth of Isaac Newton, who among others, gave us calculus, the laws of motion, and a fundamental understanding of gravity, this special coin was issued in his honor. The face shows a sun in the middle, indicating his contributions to our understanding of nature, rather than his own portrait. This was the idea of Royal Mint designer Aaron West, who based his work on elements of Proposition 11, in Book One of Newton’s Principia Mathematica.
“I wanted to approach the choice of design differently, rather than simply creating a portrait of Newton. Instead I researched the scientific elements of Newton’s theories, particularly the ones related to Newton’s laws and bodies in space. The biggest challenge was representing the theory within the scope of the coin.”
The coin was put into circulation after a ceremony at Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace and family home of Sir Isaac Newton. Anne Jessopp, the Royal Mint’s director of consumer coin, said:
“As well as undertaking pioneering work in the fields of physics and astronomy – work for which he is widely known – Isaac Newton was also master of the Royal Mint for three decades, so we couldn’t think of a better place to issue a special release of these coins than Woolsthorpe Manor, Newton’s birthplace.”
As Jessopp mentions, aside from revolutionizing physics, Newton was master of the Royal Mint for a very long time. In 1717, he paved the way for the so-called “gold standard,” helping to establish the gold coin as the pre-eminent currency of the UK.
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t expect to get this coin as change just yet, because for now, the Royal Mint has only released 375 coins. They have said that many more coins are set for release “imminently”, but at this moment, it’s not clear when this will happen and how many coils will be put into circulation. It could become common, or it could remain a collector’s favorite. If you can’t wait and want one the Mint’s shop is selling commemorative editions of the coin, and you can also buy a regular coin, which is already available. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to get my hands on one.