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Coining it

Matt Blease, along with @annawalker_ldn, has a secret. A fascination for limited edition British coins. You know, like the 50p pieces you occasionally come across with a London 2012 related image on the obverse. And they’ve set up what they themselves describe as a ‘nerd account’ on Instagram @yes_itsakeeper featuring some of their favourite coins. We talked to Matt to find out a little more.

So, what’s the story behind @yes_itsakeeper?

Anna and I had started noticing how many special edition coins we kept coming across. Every time we were handed an interesting coin we’d hang on to it, feeling like it was a little too nice just to spend straight away. After a couple of months we realised we had become reluctant coin collectors. This Instagram account was our way of documenting the coins before we parted with them.

Were you ever a coin collector before this?

No. Although in my younger years I went through phases of obsessive collections. stickers, comics, keyrings, these little weird plastic figures called Muscle Men! 

Are you going to stick with British coins?

Yes, definitely. The only rule we have is if this is your first time at coin club you have to fight… no, hang on that’s something else. The only we rule we have is that the coins have to be British coins in current circulation. 

Is the interest primarily in the graphic design in a limited space?

Yes. I love that these little moments of design interact with so many people daily, often probably without them even realising. 

It’s incredibly hard to work in that kind of scale… weirdly, I have some kind of idea of this from my project with Mentos. You really have to keep on simplifying the design until you have what you consider are the bare minimum elements while still conveying the idea.

Do you know much about the artists who do this work?

That’s what’s nice about doing this. When we come to post a coin, we do a little bit of research into the background of the design. 

Do you think the design of coins is under-appreciated?

Big time. These little pocket wonders pass through our hands every day often going unnoticed. 

Do you take any inspiration for your own work?

Yes – I guess I do, and always probably have done on some level.

Do you have a personal favourite among these designs?

I may no longer be an official Boy Scout but f*ck me, I’m always prepared. So, I’m pretty partial to the 2007 Scouting 50p coin. Anna is a Brunel megafan, so the 2006 Isambard Kingdom Brunel £2 coin floats her boat!

Are you secretly angling for a coin design gig with the Royal Mint?

I mentioned years ago that my dream job would be to design a coin. I wanted to have little pictures in people’s pockets… they know where to find me!

Do you spend the coins after immortalising them?

We do, that way, hopefully, someone else will have that moment of looking down at a handful of change and thinking – Yes! It’s a keeper!