Royal Mint marks insulin discovery on 50-penny coin

October 22, 2021 2 min read

Royal Mint marks insulin discovery on 50-penny coin

By Jeff Starck , Coin World,Published: Oct 21, 2021, 11 AM

The Royal Mint has launched a commemorative 2021 50-penny coin in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, marking the historic medical breakthrough for the first time on an official UK coin.

The 100 Years of Insulin 50-penny coin celebrates the life-saving treatment for diabetes discovered by researchers Dr. John Macleod (a University of Aberdeen graduate), Sir Frederick Banting, Dr. Charles Best and Dr. James Collip in 1921.

Designed by renowned artist Iris De La Torre, the contemporary design is an artistic interpretation of the structure of insulin along with its molecular formula.

Design inspiration

Inspired by an image of human insulin crystals through a microscope, the design features a geometric repeating pattern using hexagons and circular shapes on the canvas of the coin.

Available in copper-nickel and precious metal versions, the 50-penny coin is the fifth release in the Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series, which pays tribute to some of the greatest scientific discoveries.

The latest release follows commemorative coins in recognition of the life and work of inventors Charles Babbage, John Logie Baird, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Hawking.

The Royal Mint’s divisional director of commemorative coins, Clare Maclennan, said regarding insulin discovery, “A landmark medical breakthrough of the 20th century, it has transformed the lives of people with diabetes for 100 years and is a fitting addition to our Innovation in Science collectable series, marking the greatest scientific innovations and the remarkable people behind them.”

Designer of the 100 Years of Insulin coins, artist De La Torre, said: “I came up with a design inspired by images of an accurate segmentation of single-isolated human insulin crystals for in-situ microscopy that I found in a medical document online. The image shows segments of human insulin crystals in the form of hexagons. It is a beautiful image and inspired a pattern repeat which worked well on the 50p coin.”

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