The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 17, Number 52, December 21, 2014, Article 23


Philip Mernick forwarded this Royal Mint blog article on the changing portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on coinage. Here's an excerpt. -Editor

Evolving Effigy of Queen Elizabeth

You’ll find that there have been three royal coin portraits created since decimalisation in 1971.

There have, in fact, been four coin portraits of Her Majesty since she became Queen, if we include the pre-decimal period. The 2015 coin designs will be the last to bear the current royal effigy first introduced in 1998. So this seems a good moment to look back at the beautiful portrayals of Her Majesty that have graced the coins of her realm so far.

The first royal effigy of Queen Elizabeth’s reign – 1953-1967 by Mary Gillick
1953-Royal-Mint-Sovereign-portrait-by-Mary-Gillick The 25-year-old Queen came to the throne in 1952, but no coins bearing her effigy were struck that year. The first Queen Elizabeth II UK coins were struck in 1953 and bore Mary Gillick’s head and shoulders portrait of the young monarch wearing a laurel wreath. Fresh and evocative, it reflected the optimistic, post-war mood of the nation beautifully. Mary Gillick, a sculptor from Nottingham, beat 16 other artists in competition for the honour of this commission. Her uncrowned portrait is the only one of the four still struck today – it continues to grace the Maundy Money distributed each year by Her Majesty and has also appeared as a cameo on British commemorative stamps since 1966.

The second royal effigy – 1968-1984 – by Arnold Machin RA
1974-Royal-Mint-Sovereign-portrait-by-Arnold-Machin With decimalisation of the British currency planned for 1971, it was decided to refresh The Queen’s coin portrait. Arnold Machin’s sculpture had, in fact, been chosen and approved by The Queen as early as June 1964. Born in Stoke, Machin had worked with Derby, Minton and Wedgwood ceramics in his early career. He was made a Royal Academician in 1956 and was awarded the OBE in 1965. His design made its first appearance in 1968 on the 5p and 10p coins, the first of the ‘new’ coins that were able to circulate alongside the ‘old’ coins due to the equivalent pre-decimal values of the shilling and florin.

The third royal coin effigy – 1985-1997 – by Raphael Maklouf
1985-Royal-Mint-Sovereign-portrait-by-Raphael-Maklouf Like Machin, Raphael Maklouf was working as a sculptor when he was commissioned to undertake what was to be his first coin design. His ‘couped’ portrait depicts The Queen wearing the royal diadem that she favours for the journey to and from the State Opening of Parliament each year. It has been said that he shows Her Majesty as somewhat younger than her then 58 years, but it was Maklouf’s avowed intention to produce a ‘regal and ageless symbol’ – and who could say he did not succeed in that?

The current royal coin effigy – 1998-to date – by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS
1998-Royal-Mint-Sovereign-portrait-by-Ian-Rank-Broadley The current depiction of The Queen on British coins was created by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, and chosen in competition with ten other artists. Working from photographs, he was granted two sittings by Her Majesty to refine his final design. Conscious that the coinage was getting smaller as the 5p, 10p and 50p coins had been reduced in size, Rank-Broadley deliberately made the image as large as possible within the framework of the coin’s outer edge. Commenting on his noticeably more mature portrayal of Her Majesty in an interview with The Times newspaper he responded “There is no need to flatter her. She’s a 70-year old woman with poise and bearing. One doesn’t need to see a rather distant mask.” His ‘strong and realistic’ portrait could also be viewed as a return to a more traditional design following the idealistic style of its predecessor and the boldness of the Gillick portrait 50 years previously.

To read the complete article, see:
The Evolving Effigy of Queen Elizabeth (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

The Numismatic Bibliomania Society is a non-profit organization promoting numismatic literature. See our web site at

To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor at this address:

To subscribe go to:



Copyright © 1998 - 2012 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster