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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Coins and benches

Last fall, you’ll recall, the English town of Basingstoke, located not far from Jane Austen’s final home at Chawton, decided to commemorate the bicentenary of her death by commissioning a series of benches shaped like open books and decorated in Austen-appropriate ways.

The project seemed a bit peculiar to me, but hey – whatever works. I haven’t yet seen up-close pictures of all twenty-four of the finished benches – and, alas, I fear I won’t make it to Basingstoke for an in-person look – but the Royal Mint is now publicizing its own contribution.

The Mint, of course, is marking Austen’s bicentenary in its own way, by releasing a commemorative £2 coin, which can be purchased for anywhere from £10 ($12.63) for the basic edition to £830 ($1,048.63) for the gold version. The Mint’s book bench design is based on the notebook scribbles of the coin’s designer, Dominique Evans, which include Austen quotes, images and associated ideas she apparently considered en route to her final design.

If you get to Basingstoke, send along some pictures of the benches in their natural habitat! And buy a Jane Austen coin while you’re at it.

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