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Royal Mint commissions Michael Sandle RA to design commemorative coin

— August 2014

Associated media

Machael Sandle, Reverse of the British 1 kilogram gold coin commemorating the First World War

The Royal Mint has issued two of its premier coins, the Kilo and the Five-Ounce, in fine silver and fine gold as part of its five-year programme commemorating the First World War, from outbreak to armistice.

Michael Sandle RA, known for his war-themed work, has created a haunting reverse for the 2014 Kilo, depicting the sadness of soldiers moving from the trenches into no man’s land, in the form of a lonely figure of a soldier in full cape and familiar ‘Brodie’ helmet marching through the mist.

Michael Sandle RA said of his inspiration for the coin:

I have always felt very emotionally involved with and deeply moved by the First World War - the topic has a powerful pull for me although I was born just before the Second World War. I wanted to convey the sadness I felt at the tragedy of the war, the loss of so many men… and it is the human story and the sheer enormity of the tragedy that inspired me. I am pleased to have done something to honour that.

Also being released is The Royal Mint’s 2014 Five-Ounce coin, which is traditionally reserved for significant anniversaries and occasions, and has a reverse design by experienced coinage artist John Bergdahl. John was creator of The Royal Mint’s coin design in honour of the christening of Prince George of Cambridge. His Five-Ounce design recalls the first wave of troops departing Britain, watched over by Britannia, with a lion at her side, guardian of Britain.

John Bergdahl said:

For me Britannia embodied the true spirit of Britain at the outbreak of war, as troops began to depart for France. These were men going to fight for king and country, for Britain, and the figure of Britannia brought all that together. She symbolized what they fought for – including everyone at home, wives, children, families. But more than that really, it was about Britannia’s belief in them – she watches over them as they leave Britain’s shore, placing her trust in them rather than them trusting in her.

The obverse of each coin features the current coinage portrait of Her Majesty the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, and they have been finished to The Royal Mint’s Satin Proof standard, highlighting every detail created by their artists and refined by the artistry of The Royal Mint’s engravers. Each coin is presented in a case and is accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity to confirm its low mintage. Each coin comes with a booklet giving a snapshot of Britain at the outbreak of war, and the inspiration behind the designs.

Kilo 2014 – Michael Sandle RA

Michael Sandle RA has exhibited internationally and has undertaken many commissions, with themes of war, death, destruction, inhumanity and media manipulation constant in his work, as he treads a path outside the fashionable mainstream. He was born in Weymouth, Dorset, in 1936 and studied at the Douglas Isle of Man School of Art and Technology and the Slade School of Fine Art. From 1961 he taught in Leicester and Coventry before moving to Canada in 1970 and living and working in Germany from 1973. He retired as a professor at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Karlsruhe and returned to the UK in 1999.  The work he is most proud of is the Malta Second World War Siege Memorial completed in 1992, which incorporated a 13.5 tonne bell, sited at the entrance to the Grand Harbour in Valletta and for which he was awarded the Henry Hering Memorial Medal by the National Sculpture Society of America.

Michael Sandle was elected as a Royal Academician in 1989, resigning in 1997 before rejoining in 2004 and was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1994.

Five-Ounce 2014 – John Bergdahl

John Bergdahl is a sculptor who has undertaken a number of commissions from The Royal Mint, including Britannia in 2008, coins for the Olympic Series, the Mary Rose £2 coin, the 500th anniversary of the accession of Henry VIII £5 coin and the 60th anniversary of the Coronation Five-Ounce coin. He also designed the coins struck to celebrate the christening of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge. John has also created the reverse design for the £2 coin struck to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War and a series of six £5 coins on the theme of Battles and Conflicts as part of the five-year programme of commemoration.

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