First published back in 1978, Raymond Briggs’ children’s word-less picture book, The Snowman, debuted to critical acclaim. Telling the story of a young boy that builds a snowman which then comes to life, it was adapted to an Oscar-nominated animated short film in 1982. Much loved, especially in its British homeland, The Snowman has become a staple of the Christmas tv schedule and the book continues to sell. A sequel called the Snowman and the Snowdog was published on the 30th anniversary of the original.
After the tremendous success of their Beatrix Potter and Paddington coin ranges, we’re sure nobody is surprised that the Royal Mint has looked elsewhere for similar literary and popular culture subjects for another issue. The Snowman is comparitively limited in range compared to the Betrix Potter series, and comprises just a single design available in three formats. The basic brilliant-uncirculated base metal coin is not something we cover here, so its down to a single silver and a single gold coin to carry the flag.
These are fifty-pence denominated, so are standard seven-sided coins. The gold coin weighs in at ½oz and is struck in 22kt gold (0.9167 fineness). The silver coin needs only 8.0 grams of metal to achieve the same diameter, but distinguishes itself with a full colour application, the first time the Royal Mint has used colour so extensively. The design itself is about as classic a Snowman image as you could expect. The pair soaring through the sky over Brighton Pier completely encapsulates the story in both book and animated forms. The obverse is the usual Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The coins look well presented, both coming with a booklet packed full of information and images. They come in a themed outer shipper, but the coin box itself differs. The gold coin comes in the classic Royal Mint gloss wood box. These are always quality items, but the silver coin uses the superior acrylic block to make coin display very easy. The gold coin has already sold out at its 400 mintage at the mint – quite the feat given the price. The 15,000 mintage siler coin sells for £60 and appears to be selling equally briskly as it has also sold out. No doubt the ebay speculators will be out in force, so be careful what you pay as a premium.