Pirates of Penzance - Pieces of Eight - England, 2011/2012

Pirates of Penzance

The Inspiration

Back in 2009, Brian had written a new version of the Gilbert & Sullivan show, "The Pirates of Penzance", which had been a great success during its first performing run. He'd already been booked to perform the show with two other companies, one in 2011 and the other in 2012, and wanted something with which to commemorate these performances, to give to his cast, orchestra and crew as momentos. And given the subject matter, what could be more appropriate than some golden coins?

Three elements combind to provide inspiration for the design of the coins; firstly, a logo extracted from one Brian had first used on tee-shirts for Imperial College Operatic Society, during their Summer 2002 "Tour" to Budleigh Salterton, Devon. The lettering is in Bitstream "Freeform 721", and the Jolly Roger comes from the CorelDRAW! clip-art library.

Jolly Roger and Lettering

As Brian's version of "Pirates" is set in the Caribbean, with many Latin/Carib musical influences, it seemed natural to include an iconic image from St Lucia, namely it's famous twin peaks, the Pitons.

The Pitons, St Lucia

Finally, as this coin was hopefully to have some promotional, as well as souvenir value, Brian decided to include elements from his own business card, including his name, mobile phone number, web address, and of course his "BDS" music logo.

The BDS Music Logo

Creating the Coin

Brian's first job was to simplify the Jolly Roger design, because the coin production company only works with two-dimensional images: the clip-art object was deconstucted in CorelDRAW!, all of the three-dimensional shading elements were removed, and thick outlines were added where appropriate to produce a vector object which could be die-stamped effectively.

Simplification of the Jolly Roger

As with the Jolly Roger, the Pitons image would need converting to an outline in order to work. Brian tried using CorelTRACE!, but was unable to achieve satisfactory results, so after straightening the picture's orientation by rotating it left about 1.5 degrees, he set about tracing the pitons manually in CorelDRAW!, creating two complex polygons.

Tracing the Pitons

With all the elements in place, Brian set about creating the first and simpler of two designs, incorporating the Pirates logo on the obverse, together with his web address, and the Pitons, BDS music logo, his name, "Brian D Steel" and his mobile phone number on the reverse. Around the perimeter of the reverse was the legend, "Tango Calypso Ragtime Rumba Habanera Samba Tarantella Fandango", encircling the design and listing many of the Latin/Carib musical forms that Brian had used in his arrangements. The Bitstream fonts, "Staccato 222" and "Lydian", were used for name and the other lettering respectively.

Number One Coin Design

Brian experimented with a second design, this time with a raised border both sides of the coin, with the "Tango ..." legend encircling the obverse, and the words, "The music of Sir Arthur Sullivan adapted and arranged by Brian D Steel 2009", around the reverse. The title, "Caribbean Pirates", together with Brian's web address, were added to the reverse in Bitstream's fonts, "Staccato 222" and "American Typewriter Condensed" respectively; as before "Lydian" was used for the encircling legends.

Number Two Coin Design

To help decide between the two designs, Brian created simulations of both coins' appearances in Photoshop; eventually, after considerble thought, the first of the two designs was chosen.

Simulated Number One Design Coins

Brian sent off an EPS file with his firrst design, ordering 150 coins; less than two weeks later, a heavy parcel arrived from China via FedEx: on opening the package, Brian was once again delighted with the quality of the coins.

The Real Numer One Design Coins

Following his 2011 production of "Pirates", Brian gave souvenir coins to many of his cast and all his band; he has also been giving the coins to selected musical contacts, in lieu of a business card, to help promote his show: luckily he still has plenty left for his forthcoming 2012 production!

Plenty of Coins

Click on the links below to find out about some other coin designs: