Royal Mint unveils new coins
The Royal Mint has unveiled new coin designs celebrating the life and works of William Shakespeare and Beatrix PotterRoyal Mint

The Royal Mint has released a series of new coins for 2016 including a £2 with a representation of Hamlet's court jester Yorick's skull to mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. The coins that have been revealed today (1 January) will feature three designs to represent the Bard's work.

The skull placed next to a thorny rose represents Shakespeare's tragedies while the history plays are represented by a £2 coin with a crown design, and his comedy works are reflected by a motif of a jester's hat. Another new £2 coin shows the London skyline ablaze to mark the 350th Anniversary of The Great Fire of London in 1666.

Another new £2 coin for this year is entitled The Army UK £2 and has a design of soldiers marching shoulder-to-shoulder. The three Shakespeare coins were designed by renowned sculptor John Bergdahl, and carry an inscription of the playwright's name.

Royal Mint designs for new 50p coins have also been revealed with two celebrating the life and works of children's author Beatrix Potter on the 150th anniversary of her birth. One features a silhouette of the author and the second a portrait of her most famous children's character, Peter Rabbit.

The 950th anniversary of The Battle of Hastings is commemorated with a 50p piece featuring the infamous fate of King Harold, as depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry. The new coins will enter circulation this spring. The annual release of the new coin designs will also feature the last round pound coin with the new 12-sided coin set to be released in 2017.

The annual release of the new coin designs will also feature the last round pound coin, as a new 12-sided coin is set to be released in 2017.

Anne Jessopp, director of commemorative coin at the Royal Mint, said: "It is always exciting to see the new years' designs revealed, commemorating the moments that matter, and revisiting some of the great events and stories from our history. The British public should start to see these coins appearing in their change from spring 2016."

Documents have also been released that show the Royal Mint shelved a plan for a six-sided 60p coin to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, as coins to celebrate the event were already "sufficiently comprehensive".