Philip Mernick forwarded this Royal Mint blog article on the changing portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on coinage. Here's an
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
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
The second royal effigy – 1968-1984 – by Arnold Machin RA
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
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
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
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