2019 40th Anniversary of Raymond Briggs' 'The Snowman' Silver Proof 50p Coin
This special fifty pence coin from The Royal Mint, a second release in the series, commemorates 40 years of the definitive children's literature classic, The Snowman. With over 8 billion copies in 15 languages sold to date, it has become a firm festive favourite. However, author Raymond Briggs never intended it to be a hallmark of Christmas, and rather a story conceived to introduce children to the concept of mortality. The Snowman is a silent and simple tale of a boy's adventures with his snowman, brought to life at night by magic, only for the boy to find his friend melted the next morning. Designed by Snowman Enterprises, this coin features the Snowman and the boy soaring through the star-filled skies above Brighton Pier, where the two friends watched the sunrise together in their final adventure of the night. The coin's obverse hosts the 5th Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark. The 40th anniversary coin is encased in a snowy presentation box with an accompanying booklet bursting with illustrations by Robin Shaw. Shaw assistant directed films, The Snowman and sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog.
When author Raymond Briggs first published The Snowman, a tale introducing children to the subject of death, he could never have imagined it would become a Christmas favourite. The short story follows a young boy who builds a snowman in his garden. As the clock strikes midnight, the Snowman comes to life in a golden glow and takes the boy to the skies on a memorable adventure. The next morning, the boy wakes to find the snowman has sadly melted. It became a staple Christmas classic thanks to a Father Christmas scene in the Boxing Day 1982 television adaptation for Channel 4. Although unnamed in the book the boy is named James in the film by a Christmas present tag in the Father Christmas scene. The adaptation's only words are those spoken by the narrator, played by Raymond Briggs in the UK version. In the American retelling, late musician David Bowie narrates the story. Bowie was a great admirer of Briggs and in this version, he frames himself as the boy recalling one remarkable snow day. Both films are scored to 'Walking in the Air' performed by then child tenor soloist, Peter Auty, which was later covered by fifteen-year-old Aled Jones in 1985. Every year since, the 26-minute film has been broadcast in living rooms across the country during the festive season, sometimes accompanied by sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog.
In 2019, The Royal Mint paid tribute to The Snowman legacy, on the 40th anniversary of its 1978 publishing. The result was this commemorative Silver Proof 50p, which will take many of us back to the first time we laid eyes on the book or the film, our childhood Christmasses, and the snowman who melted the nation's hearts.