Britain’s Royal Mint just released its set of 2021 commemorative coins, honoring the likes of Sir Walter Scott, television pioneer John Logie Baird, decimal day, Her Majesty The Queen’s 95th birthday, and science fiction author H.G. Wells.
While it’s great to see Wells and his contributions to literature recognized, his coin comes with a couple of significant flaws.
The coin features three elements that signify Wells’ most well-known works: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man. And, as fans have pointed out, the Royal Mint somehow got them wrong.
Wells’ alien invasion novel features Martians coming to attack and take over Earth for themselves, using fantastical machinery and weapons, including Tripods: huge, three-legged walkers. The Royal Mint’s depiction? Four legs. C’mon.
According to the Royal Mint’s page for the £2 coin, designer Chris Costello wrote that he “was inspired by vintage H. G. Wells book covers and movie posters. Who can forget the spine-chilling jellyfish-like robots conceived in the promotions for The War of the Worlds? That creature was my favourite and I created my own interpretation of it that would take advantage of the circular canvas and appear to climb out of the composition.”
When reached, Costello issued a brief statement:
The characters in War of the Worlds have been depicted many times, and I wanted to create something original and contemporary. My design takes inspiration from a variety of machines featured in the book – including tripods and the handling machines which have five jointed legs and multiple appendages. The final design combines multiple stories into one stylized and unified composition that is emblematic of all of H.G. Well’s work and fits the unique canvas of a coin
Notably, the Royal Mint responded to The Guardian‘s Allison Flood with a non-answer when asked about the mistake.
Several people have tweeted this into my timeline, so I might add: not only did Wells' Tripods have *three* legs, Griffin, his invisible man, does not wear a top hat (he arrives at Iping, face bandaged under a "wide-brimmed hat"). So it's two for two. https://t.co/3HhuhWHd1Z
— Adam Roberts (@arrroberts) January 5, 2021
Noted science fiction author and historian Adam Roberts pointed out another error: The Invisible Man’s hat is wrong, and his appearances in public saw him wrapped in bandages. This one’s a bit more excusable: it’s easier for someone looking at the coin to recognize that the character is invisible (as evidenced by my son coming up behind me just now and gasping “that’s the Invisible Man!”)
The coin also features Roman numerals in clock face order, depicting Wells’ novel The Time Machine.