Last March 14th was a particularly sad day when it was announced that one of the world’s greatest visionaries, pProfessor Stephen Hawking, had passed away. In 1961, at the age of just 23, Hawking was told he had Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a particularly nasty, fatal, and rapidly progressing disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord, preventing movement, but not the senses. Given just two years to live, the disease eventually claimed him – 57 years later.
Never giving in to this crippling affliction, his work became his life, and he was responsible for a quite staggering scientific output. Most famously, he created a formula describing the entropy of a black hole which became known as the Hawking Equation. Inscribed on his tombstone, it’s also inscribed on the coin honouring his lifes achievements. What made him special wasn’t just his outstanding intellect, but his desire to ‘dumb it down’ for the rest of us, so we could all see and take part in the wonder that he saw in the universe. A true legend and his seminal book, A Brief History of Time, should be sought out and read from cover to cover.
The coin is a simple enough affair, but one that encapsulates the essence of the mans work in a single image. The crudely drawn representation of a black hole is spot on, and Hawkings name, and his famous equation, round out a stylish piece of work. We like this one and would love to see a more adventurous strike, perhaps even a domed coin, but as this is the traditionalist Royal Mint, we’re unlikely to see one. Designed by Edwina Ellis, she’s to be commended for her restraint.
Three versions on offer as usual. A 22kt gold coin, and a pair of sterling silvers (8g and piedfort 16g), all sold out on day one and heading upwards on the aftermarket. In contrast to the slightly cynical, coloured 50p coin releases the mint has issued recently, this one deserves to be sought after. Presentation is of a good quality, and if you want a cheapie version of the design, a base metal brilliant uncirculated variant is on sale for just £10, although with a lower quality strike, of course. Very neat release, and the first in a new series celebrating innovation in British Science. We look forward to the next one.