HG Wells fans are criticising a new commemorative coin - here's why

Fans of the novelist HG Wells have expressed their annoyance at the new commemorative coin honouring the author, after an error related to his iconic Martian machines.

The UK’s Royal Mint recently issued a new £2 coin featuring one of the iconic fighting machines from the 1898 novel The War of the Worlds. However, the “monstrous tripod” on the coin has four legs, rather than three.

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More than one inaccuracy

The special commemorative £2 piece is intended to mark 75 years since the death of HG Wells. The coin depicts imagery inspired by The War of the Worlds and The Invisible Man. The coin also features Roman numerals in clock face order, inspired by the novel The Time Machine.

Science fiction novelist and professor of 19th century literature, Adam Roberts (who is the author of a biography of Wells, and vice president of the HG Wells Society) also noted an inaccuracy of the depiction of the Invisible Man.

The coin depicts a top hat. However, Roberts says that, in the book, the Invisible Man arrives at Iping under a “wide-brimmed hat”.

He commented: “It’s nice to see Wells memorialised, but it would have been nicer for them to get things right.

“A tripod with four legs is hard to comprehend (tri: the clue is in the name), and Wells’s (distinctly ungentlemanly) invisible man, Griffin, never wore a top hat ... I’d say Wells would be annoyed by this carelessness: 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 minimise errors and so on.”

The iconic Tripod machines appear in The War of the Worlds, a novel depicting a deadly alien invasion on planet Earth.

The coin was designed by Chris Costello, who has said he was inspired by “vintage HG Wells book covers and movie posters.”

In response to the errors, a spokesperson for The Royal Mint said: “We have created a new £2 coin to celebrate the life and works of HG Wells. The coin depicts scenes from famous works such as War of the Worlds and the Invisible Man as imagined by designer Chris Costello.”

Costello has issued a brief statement saying: “The characters in War of the Worlds have been depicted many times, and I wanted to create something original and contemporary.

“My design takes inspiration from a variety of machines featured in the book - including tripods and the handling machines which have five jointed legs and multiple appendages. The final design combines multiple stories into one stylized and unified composition that is emblematic of all of HG Wells’ work and fits the unique canvas of a coin.”