Christopher Ironside

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Commemorative 50p of 2013 showing one of Ironside's original decimal designs. Fifty pence 2013 Christopher Ironside 100th anniversary.jpg
Commemorative 50p of 2013 showing one of Ironside's original decimal designs.

Christopher Ironside OBE, FRBS (11 July 1913, London – 13 July 1992, Winchester, Hampshire) was an English painter and coin designer, particularly known for the reverse sides of the new British coins issued on decimalisation in 1971. [1] [2]

Contents

Life and career

Ironside began his career as a painter, studying at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. During World War II he served in the Directorate of Camouflage, working for the Air Ministry in Leamington Spa.

After the war he worked for the Ministry of Town and Country Planning, as Education Officer for the Council of Industrial Design, [3] but gave up the post in 1948 due to increasing design commissions. His subsequent known work included: 1951 design contributions to the Festival of Britain, South Bank Exhibition; 1952 ballet stage and costume design with his brother for Sylvia, the revival production choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, first choreographed by Louis Merante to music by Leo Delibes in 1876; 1953 design for Pall Mall for the coronation of Elizabeth II; 1964 he collaborated with his brother Robin on the Shakespeare commemoration issue of stamps and first day covers. He taught part-time at the Royal College of Art from 1953 to 1963. His paintings were exhibited at two main shows, shared with his elder brother Robin, at the Redfern Gallery in 1944 and at Arthur Jeffress in 1960. He received an OBE in 1971.

Ironside designed various coins for the Royal Mint, including the reverse of the pre-2008 British 50 pence, ten pence, five pence, two pence, and one penny coins, as well as the former half penny coin. [4] He designed coins for the Isle of Man, Singapore, Tanzania, Brunei, Qatar and Dubai. [3] He designed commemorative medallions including: the Britannia Commemorative Society's Medallion No.7 "The Spanish Armada" and No.42 "The Royal Navy"; the medal for the 1974 Centenary of Sir Winston Churchill's birth "This was Their Finest Hour"; the brass relief memorial for the Earl and Countess Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey; and, the brass relief for the 16th Duke of Norfolk in Arundel Castle (Fitzalan Chapel).

In 2013 the Royal Mint issued a 50 pence coin with one of his designs on the reverse to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his birth. [5]

His collection of earlier concept sketches, plaster moulds and submission entries for the decimalisation competition are now housed in the British Museum.

He was married twice: to Janey Acheson (one daughter, the journalist and novelist Virginia Ironside); and, after that marriage was dissolved in 1961, to Jean Marsden (two daughters and one son). [3]

Coins

Bahrain (1965)

In the beginning of the 1960s, there was a proposal by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee for a joint currency for Bahrain, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The committee had at this stage appointed Christopher Ironside on a term contract and asked him to provide prototype designs for these coins. Three sets were prepared and presented, the first set depicted each denomination within its own geometric Arabic design which was favoured by the committee; the second set, which was a thematic set depicting a goitred gazelle (Arabian gazelle now extinct), a peregrine falcon, a local fish, a mosque, an Arab dhow, oil derricks, and a date palm; and, a third set of Arabic designs. A file note, dated 24 February 1966, says: "The project for a common Gulf currency looks like being shelved for the time being and instead Qatar and Dubai are aiming to issue a joint currency in the near future."

The designs that were presented in the three sets were labelled as "Designs for Arabian Gulf coins", but were never taken further.

Tanzania (1966)

After World War I, the territory of Tanganyika became a mandate territory of the United Kingdom and its monetary system was aligned to that of Kenya and Uganda, through the establishment of the East African Currency Board (EACB) in December 1919. Following independence, the decision to dissolve the EACB and to establish separate Central Banks in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, the Bank of Tanzania Act, 1965, was passed by the National Assembly in December 1965, and the Bank was opened by the first President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, on 14 June 1966.

Tanzania's first set of coins was issued in 1966, with a portrait of J. K. Nyerere on the obverse and African wildlife animals on the reverse. This set included circulation and commemorative sets. The last circulation coins with this first portrait were dated 1984. All regular types with this portrait have the word "TANZANIA" and the date above the portrait and the Swahili words "RAIS WA KWANZA" (roughly meaning "First President") below. Both the obverse and reverse were designed by Christopher Ironside. [lower-alpha 1]

Description

These coins were struck as:

Qatar and Dubai (1966)

In the beginning of the 1960s, there was a proposal by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee for a joint currency for Qatar and Dubai (the remaining Trucial States). The committee had at this stage appointed Christopher Ironside on a term contract and asked him to provide prototype designs for these coins. Three sets were prepared and presented, the first set depicted each denomination within its own geometric Arabic design which was favoured by the committee; the second set, which was a thematic set depicting a goitred gazelle (an Arabian gazelle now extinct), a peregrine falcon, a local fish, a mosque, an Arab dhow, oil derricks, and a date palm; and a third set of Arabic designs. [lower-alpha 2]

In the mid-1960s Qatar and Dubai entered a currency union and organised the design and production of their own coin set. This joint currency was issued in 1966. The country names and denominations appear on the obverse, whilst a relatively simple design of a goitred gazelle adorns the reverse of all the coins (originally destined for the common currency to be used by Arab states of the Persian Gulf). The obverse and reverse of the coins were designed by Christopher Ironside. [lower-alpha 3]

Description

These coins were struck as:

A total of 17 million coins were minted (individual mintage, in millions of coins, indicated in brackets above).

Brunei (1967)

The Brunei Currency Board was established in 1967 and introduced the Brunei dollar as the new currency of Brunei, replacing the Malaya and British Borneo dollar after the Currency Union Agreement between Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei was terminated and all three countries issued their own currencies. The Brunei dollar was divided into 100 cents (or sen in Malay), with a portrait of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien III on the obverse. The reverses of the coins were designed by Christopher Ironside. [6] [lower-alpha 4]

Description

These coins were struck as:

Jamaica (1969)

In 1968, the House of Representatives unanimously approved the report of the Select Committee of the House, which recommended that the currency of Jamaica should be decimalized in 1969. The introduction of a decimal currency provided the opportunity for the introduction of a complete Jamaican coinage as formerly, the coins (with the exception of the penny and halfpenny), were the same as those used in the United Kingdom. With regard to the design, it was decided that the portrait of the ruling British monarch, which had appeared on the obverse of all coins, would be replaced by the Jamaican coat of arms, with national symbols on the reverse depicting aspects of the island's flora and fauna, images that reflect the ideals of the newly independent country. The reverse of the decimal coinage was designed by Christopher Ironside. [lower-alpha 5] [8] [9] [10]

Description

These coins were struck as:

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1970)

In the 1970s the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations initiated a panel of coins to "draw attention to the most important challenge of our time, that of providing food, training and work for a rapidly expanding world population". These coins had two purposes, to serve as daily reminders, over the period of a generation, of the national and international efforts needed to meet the challenge of world food development, and to provide, through seigniorage as funds to help finance such development. People buying these FAO coin panels were thus making a personal contribution toward tackling the challenge set by the programme.

The 1970s FAO coin panel was the first international coin issue in monetary history. There were 23 contributing designers from around the world, amongst them Stuart Devlin, William Gardner and Christopher Ironside.

Description

The complete set of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 1970 coin set was 45 coins, representing 33 countries. 10,000 numbered box sets were produced. The coins of the British Commonwealth had their reverse designed by Christopher Ironside. [lower-alpha 6]

These coins were struck as (Board 1): [11]

Isle of Man (1970)

Under the provision of the Manx Decimal Currency Act of 1970, a decimal series of coins for the Isle of Man were prepared and released on 20 October 1971 (½, 1, 2, 5, 10 and 50 new pence coins). The reverse of most of these coins was designed by Christopher Ironside. [12] [13] This set had the same composition and size as the corresponding British coins. [lower-alpha 7]

These coins were struck as:

1971 first decimal set (issued from 1971 to 1974):

Gibraltar (1971)

As a territory under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, Gibraltar decimalised its currency in the 1970s. In 1971 a 25 New Pence (1 Crown) coin was issued with a reverse design by Ironside of a Barbary macaque. [lower-alpha 8] [14]

Description

Mauritius (1971–88)

In 1971 a new set of coins and banknotes for Mauritius were introduced by the Royal Mint. This set has Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and a range of heraldic motives on the reverse. Some of the reverse designs for this set were designed by Christopher Ironside. [15] [lower-alpha 9]

These coins were struck as:

1971 Mauritius Independence Proof Set: Set of 9 coins in fitted case, 750 issued, comprising:

1974 to 1975 World Wildlife Fund Silver Proof Coin Collection. In the early 1970s the WWF organised for each of twenty-four different countries to issue two proof silver crowns, each depicting some form of endangered species from their particular region of the planet. Mauritius issues the following two coins:

1988, Mauritian Proof: 250 Rupees, gold. Obverse: The Rt. Hon. Jugnauth (designer unknown); reverse: Dodo design by C. Ironside.

Malta (1972)

As a country under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, Malta decimalised its currency in the 1970s. In May 1972 a new set of Maltese coins was issued. The Malta pound, which was renamed Maltese lira (Lm) in 1983, was retained as the currency unit.

The design rationale for the new coins was both to proclaim the country's independence and to feature the distinguished personalities, historical monuments and edifices, flora, fauna and folklore articles of Malta. These coins were designed by Christopher Ironside. [lower-alpha 10] [16]

Description Eight coins were issued in the following denominations: 2 mils, 3 mils, 5 mils, 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 50 cents. The mils were in aluminium, the 1 cent in bronze, and the rest in cupro-nickel.

These coins were struck as:

Kuwait (1976)

Ironside designed the obverse of a Kuwaiti coin commemorating the 15th anniversary of the National Day of the State of Kuwait, which remained uncirculated. It was struck as:

Singapore (1985)

Singapore's second series of coins, designed by Ironside in about 1981, and put into circulation in 1985, were known as the Floral Series. The design brief was to highlight the botanical diversity of Singapore as part of a government effort to foster national pride and identity. The Vanda 'Miss Joaquim' orchid was chosen as the country's national flower in 1981.

Description

These coins were struck as:

There is a possibility that the original design work is stored in the National Archives, Kew.

Medals, awards and general works

[17]

  1. Camouflage Directorate (1940–1945)
  2. Der Rosenkavalier Ballet – scenery and costumes (1947 onwards)
  3. Festival of Britain, exhibitions: Shakespeare, Dome of Discovery and Crystal Palace (1951)
  4. Exhibition stands (circa 1950)
  5. Sylvia Ballet – scenery and costumes (1952)
  6. Royal Yacht Britannia – Queen's Study mirror and Sitting Room fire-guard (1952)
  7. Time and Life Building (London) clock (1952)
  8. Coronation Procession – Whitehall heraldic shield (1953)
  9. Alceste Ballet, Glyndebourne – Apollo statue (1953)
  10. Mount Everest model figures of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay (1953 and 1954)
  11. A Midsummer Night's Dream Ballet – scenery and costumes; London, New York and Canada (1954)
  12. Daily Mail Idea Home Exhibition – Dawn of Civilisation grotto and flying chariots (1954)
  13. Royal Academy Summer Exhibition – paintings (c.1954)
  14. SS Iberia – ship's clock (1954)
  15. The Bedford Corner Hotel, martins Bank Ltd – entrance crest (1955)
  16. Les Troyens Ballet – scenery (1955)
  17. RSA Benjamin Franklin Medal (1956)
  18. British Academy, Kenyon Award (1957)
  19. Bank of London and South America (London) – clock (1957)
  20. Sir James Swinburne Award (1958)
  21. Leathersellers' Livery Hall – clock (1960)
  22. British Exhibition Medal, New York(1960)
  23. Trustee Saving Bank (TSB) – saving tokens (1960)
  24. La Sylphide Ballet – scenery and costumes (1960)
  25. Ministry of Housing and Local Government' Award for Good Design (1960)
  26. Royal Musical Association, The Edward J Dent Award (1961)
  27. Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Medal (1962)
  28. Royal Anthropological Institute, Patron's Medal (1962)
  29. The National Trust Donor token (1963)
  30. Shakespeare Festival stamps (1964)
  31. British Sub-Aqua Club Award (1965)
  32. Battle of Hastings 900th Anniversary Medal (1966)
  33. Britannia Commemorative Society Medals (1968)
  34. The Sailing of the Pilgrim Fathers Medals (1970)
  35. The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers/ RCA, Hugh Dunn Award (c. 1970)
  36. Man in Space medal box set; Danbury Mint (c. 1970)
  37. Northern Ireland Parliament Medal (1971)
  38. The Life of Jesus medal box set; Danbury Mint (c. 1972)
  39. Warders of the Tower of London Medal (1972)
  40. London Stock Exchange Medal and tapestries (1972)
  41. Peter Cazalet Memorial, Shipbourne, Kent (c. 1973)
  42. American Revolution medal box set; Columbia Mint (1974)
  43. Churchill Medal (1974)
  44. The 16th Duke of Norfolk Memorial, Fitzalan Chapel, Arundel Castle (1975)
  45. Tallow Chandlers Award (1977)
  46. Tower of London Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal (1977)
  47. Tower of London 900th Anniversary Medal (1978)
  48. The Lumb Golden Bale Award (c. 1979)
  49. The Earl Mountbatten of Burma Memorial, Westminster Abbey (1979)
  50. The Earl of Perth Memorial
  51. Mauritius Royal Wedding Commemorative 1,000 Rupees gold coin (1981)
  52. Uranium Institute Award (1985)
  53. Claridges interiors – restaurant and Ladies Lift (1985–1987)

Notes

  1. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection; Objects: Pencil drawn sketches.
  2. A file note, dated 24 February 1966, says: "The project for a common Gulf currency looks like being shelved for the time being and instead Qatar and Dubai are aiming to issue a joint currency in the near future."
  3. The British Museum: The Christopher Ironside Collection:
    • Object: Block with mounted copies of suggested designs for Arabian Gulf currency, Series A. (obverse) block with twelve photographs of designs for the obverse of Arabian Gulf currency. Ornamental patterns at centre. Arabic script and numerals around the edges of the coins.
    • Object: Pencil drawn sketch of a design for a 25 Dirham coin, (obverse) the English inscription is around the edge with the central inscription in Arabic; (reverse) the inscription is around the edge with an image of a goitred gazelle in the centre seen side on facing right.
    • Object: Block with mounted copies of suggested designs for Arabian Gulf currency, Series B. (obverse) block with eleven photographs of designs for the reverse of Arabian Gulf currency. Pencil and pen annotations. Ornamental patterns with value at centre. Arabic script around the edges of the coins.
    • Object: Block with mounted copies of suggested designs for Arabian Gulf currency, Series C. (obverse) block with fifteen photographs of designs for the reverse of Arabian Gulf currency. Pencil annotations. Designs with oil refinery, eagle, gazelle, fish, palm tree, mosque or dhow at centre. Arabic script around the edges of the coins.
  4. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketches of designs for the obverse and the reverse of coins from Brunei.
  5. British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketch of a design for the reverse of a 10-dollar coin from Jamaica (Item 143).
  6. There are designs prepared by Ironside held in the National Archives in Kew that illustrate other themes relating to the idea of "food for all the world": a 5c deer, 5c ram, 5c fish and 5c chickens. However, it does not appear that these designs were ever used.
  7. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketch of a design for the reverse of a 50 New pence coin from Isle of Man (Item 79 & 80), dated from the 1960s: the inscription is around the edge with a central image of an eagle (seen side on) stood above a child in a basket. However this design was not used.
  8. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketch of a design for the reverse of a 25 pence coin from Gibraltar (Item 112 & 176), namely, a first inscription around the edge of the coin with the coat of arms of Gibraltar in the centre – with a second inscription forming part of this.
  9. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection:
    • Object: Pencil drawn sketch of a design for the reverse of a 10 rupee coin from Mauritius.
    • Object: Pencil drawn sketch of a design for the reverse of a 25 rupee coin from Mauritius (Item 108 & 166); The inscription is around the edge of the coin with a central image of a bird with a lizard like creature in its claws. The annotation is below the design on the left.
    • Object: Three identical mounted drawings of different sizes for a Mauritius 200 Rupee coin. (obverse) The inscription is around the edge of the coin with a central image of a man and woman lounging around outside surrounded by trees and foliage. The annotation is directly below the design. This is repeated for each of the three coins (Item 139).
  10. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketches of designs for the obverse and the reverse of coins from Malta.
  11. The British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection: object: pencil drawn sketch of a design for the obverse of a Kuwait commemorative coin; inscription around the edge with a central image of two male heads facing right.

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References

  1. Christopher Ironside – Obituary, The Times, London, 15 July 1992.
  2. Biographical details of Christopher Ironside in the British Museum, retrieved 4 March 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 Guyatt, Richard (14 July 1992). "Obituary: Christopher Ironside". The Independent . Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  4. Ironside, Jean. "Christopher Ironside's designs". The Royal Mint . Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  5. "50p Coins". The Royal Mint . Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  6. Bruce (2008), p. 282.
  7. British Museum, The Christopher Ironside Collection.
  8. Bruce (2008), pp. 1263–1265.
  9. Bank of Jamaica: "Bank of Jamaica | Currency Structure Policy". Archived from the original on 7 January 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
  10. Numista: http://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces5787.html
  11. The Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations Booklet, 1968–1974; coins 1969–1970.
  12. Bruce (2008), pp. 1155–8.
  13. Numista: http://en.numista.com/catalogue/pieces19123.html (see series).
  14. Bruce (2008), p. 924.
  15. Bruce (2008), p. 1430.
  16. Bruce (2008), p. 1417.
  17. 'Christopher Ironside: Designing Britannia; ISBN 978-1-914584-08-4; Peter Dijkhuis 2021

Sources