War of the words: HG Wells coin also features false quote

The new coin is inscribed: ‘Good books are warehouses of ideas’ – but digging reveals the quote to be both wrong and expressing a different sentiment

It is a mystery that HG Wells’s characters would have been quick to leap on, but one that would doubtless have enraged the fastidious Wells himself: what is the origin of the quote chosen by the Royal Mint and attributed to him on the new Wells £2 coin?

Intended to mark 75 years since the death of the author, the coin has already been criticised for depicting the “monstrous tripod” featured in The War of the Worlds with a fourth leg, and for giving his Invisible Man a top hat, which the character never wore. Then the Wells expert Prof Simon James spotted the quote chosen for the edge of the coin: “Good books are warehouses of ideas.” James and his fellow academic Adam Roberts, a vice-president of the Wells Society, could source no such quote in Wells’s writing – although it is credited to him on various inspirational quote websites.

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