Innovative Design – British Currency

In March 2008, the United States Department of the Treasury unveiled the new five dollar bill. Featuring a purple Helvetica five, the new $5 USD bill was designed by a 147 year old government agency (U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing) which employes 2,500 people and has an annual budget of $525 million USD.

The British Royal Mint took a much different approach – and one we applaud. The Royal Mint held an open design contest in August 2005, which attracted 4,000 entries from 500 people. Anyone was eligible to compete. Specially invited artists, Royal Mint engravers and artists from other countries competed with people of all ages, from everywhere.

The winning designer was Matthew Dent, a 26 year old graphic designer from London. He had never before designed currency. The submitted designs were inspected by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee before their preferred design was recommended to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and finally approved by the Queen.

The new design is very clever – it splits the Shield of the Royal Army among all six coin denomination. The photo below illustrates this well.

Congratulations to Matthew Dent for a great design, and congratulations to the Royal Mint for its innovative competition.