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The Royal Mint commemorates the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas

— October 2014

Associated media

Hannah Ellis hold up a coin struck to honour her grandfather,  Dylan Thomas (Designer: Lee R. Jones)

Regular Cassone readers will be aware that Sir Peter Blake has painted a number of works celebrating the work of Dylan Thomas, which were displayed in Cardiff earlier this year. Royal Mint coinage designer Lee R. Jones has also found the poet’s work very inspiring and has produced a new design for coins to mark the centenary of Thomas’ birth.

These are special edition commemorative coins featuring the poet himself, alongside symbolic references to his life and work.

Popular both in his homeland of Wales and internationally, Dylan Thomas’ works have been performed and enjoyed for decades, and include the ‘play for voices’ Under Milk Wood, the haunting poem Do not go gentle into that good night and the popular tale A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

Now, on the 100th anniversary of his birth, The Royal Mint celebrates his inspirational talent with a coin struck for Alderney in his honour – available as a Brilliant Uncirculated £5, a silver Proof £5 and a gold Proof £1.

These commemorative coins have been created in collaboration with Hannah Ellis, the poet’s granddaughter, who was invited to The Royal Mint to strike one of the first coins bearing his highly recognizable image.

Meaning ‘son of the waves’, the name ‘Dylan’ originates from the Welsh mythical ‘Mabinogion’ tales, and there could be no more fitting a name for this tempestuous character. Senior Royal Mint engraver Lee R. Jones has captured his origins in the waves featured on the reverse design reflecting Dylan’s name and the water of the Welsh landscape that surrounded and inspired the poet. Other touches, such as the ferns that recall the well-known poem Fern Hill, frame the portrait of Dylan, with his wild hair and wide eyes.

Designer Lee Jones said:
Dylan’s writing is so visual it has always moved me and I often return to it for inspiration. For this design I incorporated the fern, not just for its symbolism – rugged, growing and seen in the landscape of Wales – but also to recall Fern Hill, one of Dylan’s most famous poems, to make the design accessible and hopefully inspire others to read Dylan’s work. The waves of Dylan’s hair reflect the waves of Dylan’s name and the water of the Welsh landscape that surrounded and inspired him.

Hannah Ellis added:
Throughout this year there have been a number of events and activities taking place to mark the centenary of my grandfather’s birth, promoting his achievements and renewing interest in his work. It is my hope that these centenary celebrations will help to leave a lasting legacy for Dylan Thomas, and that his writing will continue to inspire new audiences. I was extremely touched to find out that The Royal Mint would be striking a special coin in his honour, which can be treasured for many years to come. 

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