LYME Regis’ famous fossil hunter Mary Anning is to be celebrated with a new commemorative 50p coin collection.
The Royal Mint has released three 50p coins depicting three Jurassic creatures, which can be purchased in a selection of gold proof, silver proof or coloured, ranging in price from £10 to £1,100.
The coins depict a depict a temnodontosaurus, a large-jawed marine reptile; a plesiosaurus, a large marine sauropterygian reptile; and a dimorphodon, a small flying reptile, along with Mary’s name and the dates the fossils were found.
The new coins, designed by paleo-artist Robert Nicholls, are part of the Royal Mint’s Tales of the Earth commemorative 50p series, which have been created with the Natural History Museum.
Clare Matterson, from the museum, said the collection “celebrates a pivotal figure in the understanding of palaeontology, important contributions to science that were rarely acknowledged in Mary’s lifetime.”
The coins also feature augmented reality and collected can scan them to unearth facts, clips and images about the prehistoric beasts.
You can purchase the coins on the Royal Mint website at www.royalmint.com/our-coins/events/the-mary-anning-collection/
Who was Mary Anning?
Mary was born in Lyme Regis in 1799 to a poor working class family and lived on the site where Lyme Regis Museum now stands.
She collected and sold fossils from the Lyme Regis and Charmouth area from a young age, and her discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton; the first two nearly complete plesiosaur skeletons; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside of Germany; and fish fossils.
During her lifetime she was not fully accepted in the scientific community because of her gender and class, but Mary is now known as one of the most influential women in the history of science.
Her life will be the subject of the much-anticipated film ‘Ammonite’, starring Kate Winslet, due to be released this year, and a campaign to raise a statue of the fossil hunter in Lyme Regis recently reached its £100,000 fundraising target.
She died in 1847, aged 47, of breast cancer. A beach hut on Lyme Regis seafront – managed by Axminster and Lyme Regis Cancer Support for the sole use of those affected by cancer – was named after Mary in 2020.
David Tucker, director of Lyme Regis Museum, said: “The museum, built on the site of the home of Mary Anning, is delighted that the Royal Mint has chosen to mark her great contribution to science by issuing three set of 50p coins, reflecting the three significant fossil finds with which she is associated, the ichthyosaur, plesiosaur and dimorphon.
“We’re very pleased to have a very rare fossilled shark jaw discovered by Mary on display and our fantastic collections also reflect the wonderful fossils found in Lyme’s cliffs.
“As Lyme is the ‘home of palaeontology’, we take our responsibilities to promote her legacy and encourage people of all ages, especially the young, to learn about our local fossils.
“In normal times our museum takes over 6,000 people on to Lyme’s beaches so they can walk in Mary’s footsteps and discover their own fossils in safety – one has to be very cautious of tides and cliffs.”