The fourth of the Royal Mint’s ‘Innovation in Science’ coins launches today, and following in the footsteps of John Logic Baird, Stephen Hawking, and Rosalind Franklin, comes another intellectual giant, Charles Babbage. That’s a name fans of steampunk will be familiar with, as his Difference Engine is often the basis for alternate history novels with a dominant Victorian British Empire.
Babbage was a visionary English polymath and mechanical engineer who combined his talents to design the first computer, although mechanical in nature. Incredibly, his ‘Analytical Engine’ created all the core fundamental principles of modern computing and along with the ‘Difference Engine’, set science on a path we still walk today. While he never built his creations , dying in 1871 before they could be completed, the designs were built by others in 1991, and it was found they were perfectly functional.
The coin is another one of the mints seven-sided fifty pence coins, something that seems to have gained pre-eminence there, and is a quirky, but quite appropriate nod to this clever mans ideas. It isn’t a numismatic classic by any means, but makes a nice change from just another portrait, for example, and we do like a bit of originality here.
A typical fifty pence selection of formats, capped by a 22kt gold of half-ounce weight, with standard and piedfort sterling silver (8g and 16g) coins making up the rest of the precious metal offerings. A base-metal, brilliant uncirculated version is also available for the casual collector. Available today