A £2 coin issued by the Royal Mint to honour acclaimed author H.G. Wells includes several staggering design errors.
Marking the 75th anniversary of Wells’ death, the coin was issued as part of the mint’s 2021 “Annual Set” and features elements from two of the author’s most popular novels, The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. While the former novel’s iconic three-legged fighting machine is incorrectly shown with four legs, the depiction of the latter novel’s “Invisible Man” uses the wrong hat (the coin depicts a top hat rather than the “wide-brimmed hat” described in the book).
“I’d say Wells would be annoyed by this carelessness,” U.K. literature professor Adam Roberts told the Guardian in January. “He took immense pains to get things right in his own work—inviting translators of his book to stay with him to help the process and minimize errors and so on.”
INCORRECT EDGE QUOTE
Irish author Eleanor Fitzsimons also uncovered the origin of a quote included along the coin’s edge: “Good books are warehouses of ideas.”
While various “quote websites” attribute the phrase to Wells, Fitzsimons searched a database of the author’s writing for a quote that included the word “warehouses.” She could only find one similar line – in Wells’ first work, Select Conversations With an Uncle, published in 1895 – and it includes an extra letter: “Good books are the warehouses of ideals.”
Actual quote is “good books are the warehouses of ideals” from Select Conversations with an Uncle (Now Extinct) and Two Other Reminiscences By H. G. Wells (1895). It’s here in https://t.co/ZiwJwUQOiJ in The Use of Ideals. It’s definitely Ideals NOT Ideas https://t.co/DkQxnTTpwM
— Eleanor Fitzsimons (@EleanorFitz) January 6, 2021
“I absolutely love solving literary mysteries,” Fitzsimons told the Guardian, adding the sentiments expressed on the coin are far removed from Wells’ original quote.
The character who says the original quote believes ideals should be kept in books, later adding “there is a time for ideals, and a time when they are better out of the way.”
“The correct quotation is not Wells speaking in his own voice, but in the voice of a character whose opinion is definitely not always to be trusted,” Simon James, another U.K. literature professor, told the Guardian. “English academics exhort our students to check the original source when they can—what a shame the Royal Mint didn’t think to do so before producing all these coins with a letter missing.”