Better than a Chocolate Frog Card? Royal Mint issues Harry Potter coin

Oct 29, 2022

Posted by: Amanda Kirk

Art, Harry Potter and the Philosophers / Sorcerers Stone, Jim Kay, News, Products

In honour of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Royal Mint is issuing a commemorative Harry Potter coin. (There is also one for the recently deceased Queen Elizabeth II.) There will ultimately be four coins in the collection: Harry Potter, Hogwarts Express, Albus Dumbledore, and Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The first two coins will feature Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse; the latter two will have His Majesty the King.

The coin features a portrait by Jim Kay (illustrator of the first illustrated edition) of a young Harry, undoubtedly meant to be age 11 as he is in the book, looking over his shoulder at the camera. His hair is untidy and his iconic glasses are prominently featured. But his fringe covers his distinctive scar. That is odd; one would have expected the scar to be shown in his portrait. But the lightening bolt is visible, alternately with the number 25, when you move it. Hexurity, the technique used to make this latent feature, was used for the first time on a 50p coin for this collection.

Why a 50p coin? According to the Royal Mint: “Many people collect 50p coins and the distinctive seven-sided shape of the coin has featured many celebrated designs over its more than 50-year history, including: the rarely seen Kew Gardens design, our Peter Rabbit series, and a design commemorating the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.”

Ffion Gwillim, product designer at the Royal Mint, said that she “wanted to evoke childhood memories of those who would have read the books or seen the films when they were younger but I also wanted to design a coin that would excite a younger audience who may be discovering Harry Potter for the first time.”

Artist Jim Kay explained to the Royal Mint how he approached the job of creating the first fully illustrated edition of the Harry Potter series. His answer is quite touching and sweet:

“With enormous trepidation. I was so anxious about tackling such a successful franchise that I kind of started on the really insignificant parts of architecture – doorknobs, windows, chimney pots – and gradually created the stage on which the players would perform. So Hogwarts was the first thing I tackled, which is actually one of the main characters in the book. The castle has its own little foibles and personality, it definitely comes across as a sentient structure in the books – just look at the Room of Requirement. After that I had to go over all of the books and begin casting the characters, often basing them on people I knew. I think Hagrid was one of the earliest, and most fun. I love giants, they make adults feel like children again. Dumbledore was tricky, he needs to be both warm and approachable, with a knowing twinkle, but with the capacity to be powerful and terrifying too. I like that he is respected as one of the greatest wizards – imagine those abilities – but he also enjoys knitting.”

Unfortunately, Jim Kay has recently stepped down from illustrating the series, after Order of the Phoenix, due to mental health issues. A new illustrator for the rest of the series will be announced shortly.

There are nine versions of the coin, ranging in price from £11-£5,215. An uncirculated 50p colour coin will cost you £20. All of the limited edition coins have sold out already, which includes all of the gold versions.

There is a contest open to UK residents only to win a coin. Entries close 17 November. You can enter here.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.