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Culture

Ready to Jangle Some New Loose Change?

Come January 1, 2002 and people in 15 European countries will be walking around with some shiny new change in their pockets. Here the man and the story behind the euro coins.

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The common face and the varied reverse side of the euro coins

Luc Luycx is excited. He can hardly believe that come January 1, 2002 , he’ll be paying in shops with his "own money". And the money really is his own creation – the 43-year-old Belgian is the designer of the Euro coins that will soon be jangling in the pockets of most everyone in Euroland.

A money designer at the Royal Bank of Belgium for ten years, Luycx won the design competition held by every EU member state with the exception of Denmark five years ago. A sample of 2000 Europeans approved his design as the final version for the common face of the Euro coin.

Clarity matters. So does integration

Luycx’s main concern was making the value of the coin clear at first glance and even from a distance. So with clear-cut numbers in his head, he set to work on the design. His design also emphasises European integration. Next to the number inscriptions of the one, two and five cent coins, Luycx placed a tiny globe with the outlines of the European continent. On some Euro coins, the 15 EU countries are clearly separated, while on others, the individual countries depicted, merge into one continent.

"A Europe-wide currency has to be neutral, the graphics can't be too specific. If I had opted for portraits of famous people or architectural monuments then one country was bound to be more strongly represented", he says.

The coins will have one face common to every EU country while the other side will bear the design of its issuing country. For example oak leaves decorate the one-, two- and five-cent Euro coins in Germany. The cent pieces of higher denomination will bear the Brandenburg Gate, while the Euro 1 and Euro 2 coins will have the stamp of the German national symbol - the eagle.

Fun and Foresight

But in spite of the varied reverse sides, the Euro coins will be valid and have the same value all over the Euro zone. Though following the path of a Euro coin could be fun. For example if a Belgian came back from his vacation in Germany, he could pay in Belgium with the coins bearing German symbols. The coins could go a long way in showcasing European variety.

Luycx also consciously included England, Denmark and Sweden in his design, though the three are holding on to their national currencies to start with. And with foresight, he’s even left some scope within his design to include prospective EU member states at a later stage. In this way if the need arises, a new series of euro coins could be rustled up within a few years.

Easily recognisable and fool-proof

Based on plaster models, a precise matrix was drawn up for each of the new coins to be minted from. This pattern ensures that every single coin across the continent has an identical front.

And the coins also have milled edges to make it easier - especially for those with impaired sight - to recognise different values. Sophisticated bi-metal technology has been incorporated into the Euro 1 and Euro 2 coins which, together with lettering around the edge of the Euro 2 coin will prevent counterfeiting.

Luc Luycx is pleased. "I think they've really turned out well, great! I wasn't expecting that. I'm very pleased with them."

Naturally, Luycx is looking forward to January 1, when people Europe wide will be exchanging the coins - and his designs - as legal tender.

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