Minor British Institutions: The 50 pence piece
Saturday 01 October 2011
British design tends to the sturdy rather than stylish. Things like red buses, telephone boxes and the JCB do not excite wows from besilked Italians or cool Swedes.
Occasionally, we surprise ourselves, and everybody else: the Tube map, the odd car, Cary Grant. Familiarity, though, has obscured the claims of the 50p, a remarkable thing.
It's an equilateral curve heptagon, a distinguishing, mysterious shape which, although it's not a circle, has the same diameter wherever measured, and is thus readable by slot machines.
It was the suggestion of H G Conway, the technical member of the Decimal Currency Board, charged with the change 40 years ago.
Conway has been little lauded, possibly because he was from Canada. The 50p ran into opposition, including the splendidly named Anti-Heptagonists, founded by a retired colonel who thought the coin "an insult to our Queen".
I don't know what happened to them; the 50p survives, though (since 1997) smaller. And it can roll, too.
- 1 Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- 5 Zayn Malik on Israel-Gaza: One Direction singer bombarded with Twitter death threats after posting #FreePalestine
Sally Farmiloe dead: Howards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, dies aged 60
Sabina Altynbekova, the girl branded 'too good looking' for volleyball, says social media obsession with her is a 'bit much'
Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
Australian model Robyn Lawley stages naked protest against huge coal mine seven times the size of Sydney Harbour
Drew Barrymore’s sister Jessica found dead in her car surrounded by 'dozens of white pills'
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP FICO SOLUTI...
£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MAN...
£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...