Tuesday, 6 March 2018

James Bond becomes legal tender in new set of 10 pence coins

The Royal Mint launched a new set of 10 pence coins last week. The 26 designs – one for each letter of the A-Z of Great Britain – celebrate aspects of life that are ‘quintessentially British’, and James Bond is among them, representing the letter B.
 
B: Bond (photo: The Westminster Collection)
The coin, like the various postage stamp issues that feature Bond and Bond’s appearance in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, provides another indication of how deeply embedded Ian Fleming’s creation is in the cultural environment. 


The design itself takes its cue from the iconography of the film Bond, depicting the gun barrel and the 007 logo from the EON series. This is perhaps a little ironic, given that both elements were designed by Americans (and, of course, the films themselves would not have been possible without North American producers and finance). There’s a metaphor about modern Britain in there somewhere: Britain cannot go it alone? She is, in Tiger Tanaka’s words, a once great power? Or to be less cynical, Britain is global in its outlook and welcomes foreign investment, ideas and people? You decide. 

In any case, one could argue that James Bond of the cinema is more quintessentially international than British. Bond is distinctly un-British in behaviour and style (in sharp contrast to, say John Steed and Harry Hart), the threats are global, the cast multinational, and Bond barely spends any time in the country. That said, there's no mistaking where Bond’s loyalties lie (the Union flag parachute in The Spy Who Loved Me is, of course, iconic and character-defining), and recent films, particularly in Skyfall and Spectre, have had more of a domestic focus. 

Regardless of the pitfalls of defining what is quintessentially British, I’m rather thrilled that James Bond has been celebrated on the face of a coin. It’s testament to the character’s continued currency (if you excuse the pun) in popular culture, and is curiously appropriate, given Ian Fleming’s interest in coinage (as reflected, for example in Live and Let Die). Indeed, it’s only a matter of time before Ian Fleming himself appears on a £10 note.

3 comments:

  1. Edward
    I’m doing an article for the Univ of Birmingham Popular Literature blog site about Bond and his place in popular culture and literature. I enjoyed your article and some of it had a resonance for me for the article. So I’d like to quote from the above and give a plug for the Memes site. Hope you’re OK with that. I’ll send you a link when it’s out there.
    Best
    Raki

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Raki,
      Thanks for getting in touch. Glad you liked the piece Yes, that's absolutely fine. Happy for you to quote from it. Looking forward to to reading your article.
      All the best,
      Edward

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