2021 Mr. Happy UK Quarter Ounce Gold Proof : 50th Anniversary of Mr. Men
'What does a tickle look like?' enquired Roger Hargreaves' young son Adam over breakfast. His child's simple question launched Hargreaves' 1971 book 'Mr. Tickle', which sold over one million copies in its first three years of issue. Mr. Tickle was soon joined by a collection of Mr. Men and Little Miss characters from Misterland in a book series. The Mr. Men Little Miss series is treasured by generations of children from more than 24 countries worldwide. With a mintage of just 750 coins in the limited presentation, this Mr. Happy coin is one of a three-coin set celebrating 50 years of the much-loved Mr. Men books by Mr. Hargreaves, with special reverse designs by his, now grown-up, son Adam Hargreaves.
Meet the Authors
Even at a young age, Roger Hargreaves had a natural flair for drawing and had dreams of becoming a cartoonist and children's author. Hargreaves was a talented illustrator and soon became a copywriter in the advertising world working on everything from chocolate to cars.
While the rest of Britain was concerned with decimalisation in 1971, Hargreaves was busy creating his first character and book of the same name in the Mr. Men series, 'Mr. Tickle'. Roger Hargreaves initially struggled to get the book published but eventually it hit the bookshops selling over one million copies in the first three years.
Today, Roger Hargreaves is still considered one of the best-selling authors of all time, having sold more than 100 million books, translated into a multitude of languages from English and French to Arabic and Icelandic.
Hargreaves had four children with his wife Christine; Adam, Giles, and twins Sophie and Amelia. Little Miss Twins is based on his twin daughters. On the sudden death of Roger Hargreaves in 1988, son Adam, who inspired 'Mr. Tickle' with his peculiar question, took over the writing and illustrating of the Mr. Men Little Miss collection.
Adam Hargreaves also designed the reverse for this special 50th anniversary 'Mr. Happy' coin, a design he admits was one of the most challenging characters to master from his father's drawings as Roger Hargreaves could draw his almost perfectly circular body freehand. Adam Hargreaves replicated many of his father's much-loved characters but did not begin creating his own until 2003. The rights to Mr. Men were sold to entertainment group Chorion for £28 million in 2004, although the family are still the public face of the brand.
About Mr. Men Little Miss
For 50 years, generations of children from across the globe have enjoyed the Mr. Men Little Miss books. Today, over 85 'Misterland' characters have been developed for the series. Each character has a defining personality trait forming its namesake. The stories all have a distinctive dry sense of humour and conclude with a moral lesson for children. The story of Mr. Happy follows the rounded 'smiley face' character from Happyland as he meets Mr. Miserable. Mr. Happy teaches him how to be happy and Mr. Miserable moves in next door. Memorably, Roger Hargreaves's advice in the tale is to 'turn the sides up of your mouth at the end' to become happy.
This three-coin Royal Mint collection in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the first Mr. Men book, 'Mr. Tickle', consists of characters: Mr. Happy, Mr. Strong & Little Miss Giggles, and Little Miss Sunshine. The collection was released in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated editions in 2021.
Beyond the Books
In 1974, the BBC created a new 'Mr. Men' television series narrated by Dad's Army actor Arthur Lowe, better known as Captain Mainwaring. A Little Miss series was later released and narrated by John Alderton. By 1977, the Mr. Men characters featured in comic strips for The Mirror and The Daily Mail newspapers, and also hit the BBC pop charts with 'Mr. Men Songs'. A variety of Mr. Men Little Miss merchandise has also been released over the decades from plush toys to art prints. Mr. Happy even featured a marketing campaign for Specsavers and the 45th anniversary of the successful book series led to the issue of commemorative stamps from The Royal Mail. On the 40th anniversary of Mr. Men Little Miss, Google created a set of its 'doodles' to honour the landmark. This 2021 Royal Mint coin collection commemorates 50 years since the publication of Mr. Tickle, the first Mr. Men Little Miss book.
Mr. Men of The Royal Mint
This Mr. Men 50th anniversary collection from The Royal Mint makes use of the flowers, clouds and rolling hills of Misterland acting as a motif for the coin series. Each motif is accompanied by an inscription of 'Mr. Men 50 Years' and a depiction of Roger Hargreaves' signature. Each of these elements together connect the reverses of the 50th anniversary coin series.
Each coin reverse also includes an effigy of a Mr. Men character by Adam Hargreaves, son of Roger Hargreaves, who has continued writing and illustrating the series since his father's passing. Alongside the special reverse, the obverse of coin hosts the 5th Portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark, first issued in 2015.
Celebrating 50 Years of Mr. Men
In recent years, Adam Hargreaves has turned celebrities into Mr. Men Little Miss characters; Little Miss Stella for Stella McCartney in 2012 ahead of a Paris fashion show and The Spice Girls in 2019. A decade ago, in 2011, the Mr. Men Little Miss series also introduced 'Little Miss Princess' to mark the Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Mr. Men series, for the first time in the books' history, the general public are invited in 2021 to decide the next five characters to become new Mr. Men Little Miss books.
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