A huge pleasure to see the Royal Mint’s ‘Tales of the Earth’ sequence continue after last years three coins featuring early dinosaur discoveries in the UK. Is was the discoveries and writings of Sir Richard Owen that inspired the 2020 set – this time it is the increasingly famous Mary Anning. Some of that new-found fame comes from the movie ‘Ammonite’, which, sadly, had her achievements in the field of palaeontology take a back seat to a fabricated ‘woke’ sexual story. Never let science and the very real trials of a woman in those times get in the way of a good ‘boddice ripper’, eh guys? The reality of what she did is so much more impressive and important to science.
Three of her discoveries make up this 2021 set, one a flying reptile, two marine. While Dimorphodon and Plesiosaurus will follow later in the year, it is the Ichthyosaur, Temnodontosaurus, that starts us off. A huge reptile, perhaps exceeding 12 m (40ft) in length, they’re known for the animal kingdoms largest eyes (20cm / 8″) and were active hunters of large vertebrates.
Paleoartist Bob Nichols again does the honours here, and in our view at least, has done a terrific job. The animal looks well proportioned and dynamic, aided by the ‘ripples’ in the background. The skull found by Mary and her brother Joseph, sits in the foreground. The art for the other two coins is equally well done, so another fine trio this year.
The same formats on offer, all in the 50p seven-sided style. A proof sterling silver coin is available coloured or uncoloured, and there’s a half-ounce 22kt gold variant. Both silver versions are available in base metal as well, with the coloured one having a limited mintage of 50,000 pieces, but weighed down with a 100% price hike over the uncoloured effort. One of the best prehistoric nature series out there, aided by proper Paleoart and relying on the expertise of the National History Museum. It’s how the subject should be done on a coin.