Four-Legged Tripods

The Royal Mint in the UK announced plans to release a commemorative two-pound coin later this year in honor of H.G. Wells, marking the 75th an­niversary of his death. The coins feature clock imagery as a reference to The Time Machine, the title character from The Invisible Man, and the alien death machines from The War of the Worlds, but in their illustration of the latter’s iconic Martian tripods… the alien vehicles have four legs instead of three.

Patrick Parrinder of the H.G. Wells Society wrote, “Three legs good, four legs bad. It’s a shame that the artist didn’t pick that out.” SF writer Adam Roberts (vice president of the Wells Society) spotted another error: “Not only did Wells’ Tripods have three legs, Griffin, his invis­ible man, does not wear a top hat (he arrives at Iping, face bandaged under a ‘wide-brimmed hat’). So it’s two for two.”

Designer Chris Costello defended his choice:

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.

He says he chose a top hat because it “was eas­ily recognized as Victorian-era in contrast to the futuristic machine in the background.”

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