The National Gallery: A Journey Through Art and Time

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In the bustling heart of London, the National Gallery began its life in 1824, initially occupying the former townhouse of banker John Julius Angerstein at No.100 Pall Mall. The modest beginning—with just 38 paintings—was the spark for what would grow into one of the world’s most revered art institutions. In April 1824 the House of Commons agreed to pay £57,000 for the picture collection of the banker John Julius Angerstein. His 38 pictures were intended to form the core of a new national collection, for the enjoyment and education of all.

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Left: 100 Pall Mall, the home of the National Gallery from 1824 to 1834 Right: The paintings displayed in Angerstein’s house (Image credit –

The Evolution of a Landmark

The National Gallery’s early days at No.100 Pall Mall weren’t exactly glamorous. It was small, stuffy, and constantly packed, making it a bit of an embarrassment compared to the grandeur of the Louvre in Paris. However, Agar Ellis, a trustee of the gallery, saw its location on Pall Mall as crucial, right in the heart of London’s hustle and bustle.

In 1832, construction started on a new building by William Wilkins, replacing the old Royal Mews in Charing Cross. Positioned between the affluent West End and less privileged areas to the east, its location was strategic. The idea was to make the collection accessible to people from all walks of life, prioritising social inclusion over concerns like city pollution or architectural flaws.

Even as the possibility of moving to South Kensington arose in the 1850s, the emphasis remained on making art available to everyone. As stated by the Parliamentary Commission of 1857, the purpose of the collection wasn’t just to display pictures, but to enrich the lives of the people, regardless of their social standing.

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Left: Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons TR: Rudolf Schuba, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons BR: DiscoA340, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today, the National Gallery is a vibrant hub for art lovers of all backgrounds. It’s diverse collection, ranging from iconic masterpieces to hidden gems, offers endless opportunities for exploration and inspiration. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and digital initiatives, the gallery provides a welcoming environment where everyone can engage with art.

Celebrating 200 Years of Art

In recognition of its 200th anniversary, the National Gallery is celebrated with a special coin designed by Edwina Ellis, known for her detailed engravings. The coin beautifully features the gallery at its center, surrounded by the inscription of the anniversary. This keepsake is not just a piece of metal but a symbol of the gallery’s enduring legacy, available in gold, silver, and uncirculated editions.

The edge of the coin bears the inscription ‘MAIORVM GLORIA POSTERIS LVMEN EST’, meaning “The glory of our ancestors is a light to our descendants.” This phrase, inscribed in the gallery’s very architecture, encapsulates the essence of the National Gallery: a portal to the past and a beacon for the future.

Explore the whole National Gallery £2 range now by clicking here >>

New UK £2 released featuring Ada Lovelace

When you think of the original pioneers of computer science, names like Charles Babbage and Alan Turing might come to mind.  

But what if we were to tell you that there was someone else who played a pivotal role in building the foundations of modern computing – Ada Lovelace.

Nicknamed ‘The Enchantress of Numbers’ by Charles Babbage himself, Ada Lovelace is the next innovator in science to be honoured on a brand-new UK £2.

First, let me take you back…

A Mathematical Talent 

Ada Lovelace was born in Victorian England and quickly gained an interest in mathematics and science. At the age of just 18, Ada’s mathematical talent secured her a working position alongside ‘The Father of Computers’ himself, Charles Babbage.  

This allowed Ada to focus her work on something revolutionary: Babbage’s Analytical Engine – the first ever computer.  

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The Analytical Engine. Credit: Science Museum Group Website

 A Visionary of the Computer Age 

At the time, Charles Babbage and other scientists only focused on the numerical and calculating abilities of the famous Analytical Engine. But, Ada Lovelace had other ideas… 

She was a critical thinker and knew that the computer had the possibility to go beyond number-crunching; she interpreted the machinery further than anyone else was even considering at the time…

Ultimately, she concluded that the Analytical Engine could manipulate more than just numbers. In fact, it could be used for letters, symbols, and most importantly – instructions.  

This built the foundations of modern computing as we very know it.  

Ada Lovelace’s revolutionary contributions were revealed to the industry in 1843 in the form of seven ‘Notes’. In these Notes, Lovelace provided comprehension, calculations and inputs about the machine and its abilities – resulting in her title as the first ever computer programmer.  

And now, to honour such a revolutionary mindset, Ada Lovelace is being celebrated on a brand-new UK £2 coin.  

The Ada Lovelace £2 Coin Range 

Commemorating Ada’s contributions to computer science, she’s earnt herself a well-deserved place in The Royal Mint’s popular Innovation in Science coin series.  

With a design that depicts the original punch cards that were used to programme the Analytical Engine, the coin’s reverse also reads a quote from Lovelace herself – “a discoverer of the hidden realities of nature”.  

What’s more, this UK £2 coin range comes in a range of specifications…  

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UK 2023 Ada Lovelace Coin Range

From the collector’s favourite – Brilliant Uncirculated quality – to the stunning Silver Proof and Silver Piedfort specifications, there’s something for everyone.  

But be warned – with extremely low edition limits and even less for Westminster Collectors, you’ll have to act fast to secure yours!  

Click here to view the full range and celebrate one of the most remarkable minds in British history >>