The Changing Face of our Queen

Heads or tails? Well, in reality for Change Checkers, the answer is usually tails.

The reverse, or ‘tails’ side of the coin has always been the place to commemorate important anniversaries or make design changes, whilst the Queen retains her same recognisable profile on the obverse – the ‘heads’ side.

Except her profile hasn’t always been the same.

Something which often goes un-noticed on our circulating coinage is the changing face of our Queen over the years.  In fact, since decimalisation, three different portraits of Queen Elizabeth II have adorned the coins in our change.


1969-1984: Arnold Machin

With decimalisation approaching, it was decided to refresh the Queen’s portrait with Arnold Machin’s new sculpture of her wearing a tiara. It was commissioned in 1964 and first appeared in 1969 on the new 5p and 10p coins. The portrait may seem very familiar – as it was introduced on stamps in 1967 and remains to this day.


1985 – 1997: Raphael Maklouf

Raphael Maklouf’s effigy replaced Machin’s in 1985 and depicts the Queen wearing the Royal Diadem which she wears to and from the State Opening of Parliament. Some critics accused him of sculpting the Queen as ‘flatteringly young’, but his response was that he aimed to create a symbol “Regal and ageless”.


1998 – Current: Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS

The current Queen’s head on our coinage was designed in 1997 by Ian Rank-Broadley. Created to fill the full circle of the coin, its larger size was a deliberate response to the smaller 5p and 10p coins in circulation. A noticeably more mature portrayal of Her Majesty, Rank-Broadley aimed to show the Queen with “poise and bearing”.

You can now collect all 3 of these portraits for both 1p and 2p denominations in a brand new Change Checker Collector’s Card

Included with the card is a FREE coin you can’t find in your change – a pre-decimal penny featuring Mary Gillick’s portrayal of an uncrowned young Queen.

Click here to find out more