London Underground 150th anniversary coin
by BarberOsgerby

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London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

A Tube train will appear on the back of Britain's £2 coins next year, designed by British studio BarberOsgerby for the Royal Mint to celebrate the 150th anniversary of London Underground.

London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

Above: a sketch for the final design of the coin by BarberOsgerby

The coin by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby depicts a Tube train emerging from a tunnel and has a patterned edge inspired by the dotted lines on the Tube map.

London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

Above: a sketch for the coin's edge by BarberOsgerby

The designers, who received international acclaim with their "cheese grater" design for the Olympic Torch this year, said the £2 coin was the "perfect choice" to commemorate the Tube. "Its form is naturally reminiscent of the Roundel that is the universal logo of the London Underground," they explained.

London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

Above: a sketch for the coin by BarberOsgerby

The designers chose to depict the 1967 Victoria line train due to its aesthetic simplicity and easily recognisable outline.

London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

Above: a sketch for the coin by BarberOsgerby

Another commemorative £2 coin has also been created for the Royal Mint by British designer and engraver Edwina Ellis, depicting the roundel logo with an edge inscription that reads "mind the gap", as Tube passengers are regularly reminded.

London Underground 150th anniversary coin by BarberOsgerby

Above: a sketch for the coin by BarberOsgerby

We've published lots of BarberOsgerby projects on Dezeen, including the award-winning Olympic Torch design, which they talked about in a movie filmed by Dezeen, and a tilting chair for design brand Vitra – see all our stories about BarberOsgerby.

We've also published a circuit board radio based on the Tube map and a revamped Tube map designed to be more geographically accurate.

Here's some more information from the Royal Mint:


The Royal Mint celebrates the 150th anniversary of the London Underground with two £2 coins

2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the London Underground and to celebrate, The Royal Mint has struck two £2 coins designed by internationally acclaimed designers.

Each of the new £2 coin designs encapsulates elements of the architecture, poster art, logo and map of the London Underground to create two impressive coins in honour of the world’s first underground railway. These UK coins will be highly desirable to millions of London tourists, Londoners who travel the Underground every day as well as design and transport fans and UK £2 coin collectors. They will also appear in circulation in 2013 so people will be able to collect them from their change in the New Year.

The ‘train’ coin, designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby who designed the world-famous London 2012 Olympic Torch, depicts the front of the familiar Tube train emerging from a tunnel and carries an unusual patterned edge inspired by Harry Beck’s iconic Tube map.

Commenting on their design, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby said, "We are honoured to be part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. As well as being the oldest underground railway in the world, as an organisation it has been highly progressive, commissioning pioneering engineering, architecture and art.

The £2 coin was the perfect choice; its form is naturally reminiscent of the Roundel that is the universal logo of the London Underground.”

The coin depicts an approaching train with the outer ring of the coin used graphically to suggest the tunnel wall. The rails traverse the outer ring, contradicting conventions of a concentric frame, while a line references the ‘exergue’ in classical coins.

When considering symbolic representations of the London Underground, the designers found that an image of the front of a train appearing from the darkness of a tunnel represents what many people consider to be the ‘face’ of the London Underground.

The train referenced in the artwork is the 1967 Victoria line train, chosen for two reasons: the designers’ affinity to the aesthetic simplicity it represents; and the wide recognition of this train due to the iconic status it has gained over the years.

A subtle graphic detail inset around the coin edge represents the London Underground line with a number of stations, the last of which conceals the initials ‘B’ and ‘O’ as the Barber Osgerby signature.

The Tube emerging from the tunnel symbolically celebrates the Underground’s transition between the past and the future.

The ‘roundel’ coin, which has been created by British designer Edwina Ellis, whose graphic work includes the design of the Bridge series of four UK £1 coins, bears the London Underground roundel logo which first appeared on Underground station platforms in 1908 – in 1916 Edward Johnson added the official Underground typeface to the bar. The coin features an edge inscription heralding the famous advice: MIND THE GAP.

Speaking about her coin design, Edwina Ellis said, “I shuffled various elements from a treasure trove of graphics, imagery and engineering that forms one of the oldest extant corporate identities. Edward Johnson's 1916 lettering and his 1920 bulls-eye logo still represent the Underground.”

The obverse of both UK £2 coins features the current portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS.

The 150th Anniversary of the London Underground 2013 UK £2 Two-Coin Set, struck to Brilliant Uncirculated quality, is displayed in a beautiful presentation folder that includes a large fold-out full-colour poster specially designed with ‘Tales from the Tube’, facts from each of the London Underground lines; maps and corresponding UK coinage that shows its evolution over the last 150 years.

The 150th Anniversary of the London Underground 2013 UK Brilliant Uncirculated £2 Two-Coin Set, precious metal versions and the 14-Coin Collection are available from The Royal Mint’s website www.royalmint.com.

  • Rob

    Like the coin, the sketches even more. When did the Queen get her nose pierced?

  • firstkitten

    Diamond stud for her Diamond Jubilee, I believe.

  • 3DD

    Nice coin. The last sketch is great too.

  • Nick

    England is the only country of present times that really supports and values good design for what it is and what it’s worth, breaking loose of the old commercial-industrial scheme to deliver well thought-out objects and products to the population.

    • Guest

      I agree so far as this goes, as well as little innovations etc., but I think the need for some other types of good design, such as architecture, is widely ignored to our detriment.