In amongst all the intellectual giants that have inhabited the world of science and technology, there are those equally worthy of recognition, but haven’t received it for one reason or another. One such scientist is Rosalind Franklin, who contributed groundbreaking work to one of our most important fields, yet was sadly struck down by ovarian cancer at the young age of just 37. In her short life, however, the work she did was fundamental to our understanding of the natural world.
We’ve all heard of DNA, but it’s famous ‘double-helix structure, wasn’t confirmed until an x-ray crystallographic image was taken of it in the early 1950’s. Franklin also applied the technique to virology, coal, and RNA, building up an impressive body of work before her untimely death. It’s believed she would have been awarded a Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the work, but the Nobel Committee rarely gives posthumous awards, and she missed out.
The coin depicts a reproduction of a period-printed Photograph 51, the 51st photo taken by Franklin and Raymond Gosling – the one which so strongly hinted at the structure of DNA. Even the designer has admitted the difficulty of reproducing the original on a coin, but it does a good job. Her name, inscribed vertically and forming the first two letters of DNA with the last letters of her name, is an excellent touch.
Three precious metal versions on offer. A 22kt gold of half-ounce weight sits at the top, with sterling silver coins of 8 grams and 16 grams, the latter a piedfort. Standard Royal Mint packaging, which is decent enough, and availability from today. In a nice touch, the mint has given Jenifer Glynn, sister of Rosalind Franklin, a Silver Proof coin in celebration of what would have been Rosalind’s 100th birthday and also ‘in recognition of her sister’s exceptional dedication and revolutionary discovery in determining the structure of DNA’. Great to see such unheralded scientists given some wider exposure, as a coin is great at doing.