The Numismatic Bibliomania Society


The E-Sylum: Volume 25, Number 38, September 18, 2022, Article 23


Wayne Pearson provided these images of consecutive left-facing portraits of Kings George V and VI on Canadian coins. As David Pickup noted in the previous article, "The exception was Edward VIII, who was never crowned. Very few coins were made for him and his portrait looked left like George V and George VI." -Editor

  1936 George V portrait
  1937 George VI portrait

Martin Purdy offers more background on the alternating directions of monarch portraits. -Editor

Martin writes:

"I've seen a few repeats lately of the claim the practice started with Charles II, but that isn't quite the case - Charles and his brother James each faced both ways on their coins, one way on precious metals, the other on base. It was only under William and Mary that the effigies all faced one way across all denominations, so the consistent change from reign to reign really began with the transition from William III to Anne."

Regarding the upcoming Charles III coins, David Pickup writes:

"The Royal Mint will issue a set of coins with a new portrait of the king. Traditionally the new coins are not issued until after the coronation. This is likely to be next year – possibly Spring time. The first coins maybe the issues for the Royal Maundy due in early April next year. King Charles appeared on the reverse of the wedding crown in 1981 and more recently on a £5.00 coin to celebrate his 60th in 2008 and again for his 70th. The Royal Mint may use that portrait. It is bare headed and looks to the right.

"The traditional titles are Dei·Gra·Reg·Fid·Def - Reigning by the Grace of God, Defender of the Faith. Alternatively there may be a competition for a new portrait. It is also an opportunity to design new reverse images which have not changed since 2008. There will doubtless be commemorative coins marking the passing of the late queen and commemorating the coronation."

Martin Purdy writes:

"REG doesn't mean "reigning" but is short for Regina (Queen)."

No doubt this will kick off a discussion of proper Royal pronouns. -Editor

David Gladfelter asks:

"Will he place his Latin name (Carolus) on his coins?

"All the monarchs from James I to George VI used their Latin names on their coins (the name Victoria is the same in Latin as in English). Neither Elizabeth I nor Elizabeth II did so (Aelisabetha is a bit of a tongue twister). I did not look farther back at the royal practice prior to Queen Elizabeth I.

"I will bet on Carolus – a more traditional choice for a monarch who respects tradition.

"What do you predict? How about our readers?"

Here's a mockup image from the Metro article. -Editor

  King Charles III will face left

alternating monarch effigies Martin Purdy writes:

"Whoever did the mock-up of the 50p showing King Charles omitted one vital change - his coins will have to say REX (king) rather than REG (queen). Something else to think about is that given the legends on UK coins are still in Latin, he will presumably be styled CAROLUS rather than CHARLES. In NZ and Australia the obverse legends are all in English so neither of those issues will arise in this neck of the woods.

"For a local online coin group I pulled together some archive photos to show the alternating directions of British royal effigies since Queen Anne (1702-14). I had to cheat with Edward VIII in the absence of any actual issued portrait coins, so used a fantasy piece that still shows him facing the way he wanted, not the way he should have faced."

The Wall Street Journal published a video on the lengthy and complicated process of designing a new coin. -Editor

To watch the complete video, see:
A King Charles Coin? Not So Fast. Why Queen Elizabeth's Portrait Will Remain on Most U.K. Currency (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
QUEEN ELIZABETH II (1926-2022) (

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 - 2021 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society (NBS)
All Rights Reserved.

NBS Home Page
Contact the NBS webmaster