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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Charles Walter Coombes (1879–1942)

Sculptor born in Peckham, London. The 1901 census records him as a sculptor’s assistant. He exhibited only three times at the Royal Academy, in 1912 a relief entitled Sunset, in 1913 the model for another relief, The Call of the Infinite, and in 1914 the same subject in marble; he was in these years living at Golders Green. Following service in the First World War, he designed several war memorials, including those at Kendal (unveiled 1 July 1921) and Egremont (unveiled 8 October 1922), both Cumbria. When such large-scale commissions dried up, in 1923 he successfully applied for part-time work at the Royal Mint. In December 1924, he was given full-time status and by July 1936 he was promoted to craftsman grade 1. He mostly worked as a modeller, working up the designs of others, including coins for Iceland and Egypt and the familiar designs of Britannia for the 1937 penny and the Golden Hind for the 1937 halfpenny. Original work included designs for the seals for the Crown Commissioners and the Secretary of State for India; the Quincentenary Medal for All Souls’ College, Oxford; medals for the British Medical Association and the South African Police; and the British Somaliland Badge of Honour. On 30 June 1939, he applied for superannuation and, although only 60, retired the following month. Being in a precarious financial state, however, he accepted periodic odd jobs for the Mint until his death in 1942 in Watford.

Sources include: letter from Chris Barker, Royal Mint, to the author, 27 August 2015; (accessed March 2016).

Bibliography: D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. 170–71; H.W.A. Linecar, British Coin Designs and Designers, 1977, p. 132.

David A. Cross, 2017