Not only is our Queen now the longest reigning monarch in British history, but today Her Majesty is celebrating her 92nd Birthday – the only British sovereign to reach this milestone.
Elizabeth immediately became Queen after her father King George VI passed away. Her Coronation was delayed for 16 months because of a traditional period of mourning that follows the death of a Monarch. The first commemorative crown of her reign was designed by Gilbert Ledward and captured the hearts of the nation.
The first coins of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign featured the first portrait of Her Majesty by Mary Gillick. The portrait is remembered for reflecting the optimistic mood of the nation and was also used on coinage in many of the commonwealth countries.
In 1965, a crown was released by the Royal Mint which changed everything. This particular Crown is famous for being the first British coin to feature anyone outside the Royal Family – Sir Winston Churchill.
On Decimal Day, the UK and Ireland decimalised their currencies. The new currency system meant that the pound would be divided into units of ten, including half, one, two, five and 50 pence.
The marriage of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip Mountbatten took place on the 20th November 1947 and in 1972, the couple celebrated 25 years together. The Royal Mint issued the first British coin to have a face value of 25p to mark their 25th Wedding Anniversary.
The thirteenth Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh in 1986 which saw the striking of the very first commemorative £2 coin. Not only that, it was the first coin to commemorate a sport.
The very first bi-metallic coin was issued in 1997 – one year prior to the portrait change. This coin is the one and only year that Raphael Maklouf’s portrait appears on the bi-metallic £2 coin. His portrait features Queen Elizabeth II wearing a necklace, which earned the coin its unique status and nickname in the collecting world, the ‘Queen with a Necklace’ £2.
2011 saw the introduction of a new design for the 1oz Silver Britannia who has a long standing history with British coinage. The coin features the 4th portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley which is regarded as being a realistic and mature representation of the Queen.
In 2015, British History was made as Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrated an incredible Royal milestone, becoming our longest reigning monarch. This remarkable £20 coin was issued in celebration and features all 5 portraits of Her Majesty. The obverse features the fifth portrait of Her Majesty as 2015 was the first year that the Jody Clark portrait was used on UK coinage.
To celebrate the 90th Birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II a selection of brand new commemorative coins were issued. Designed by Christopher Hobbs, the coin depicts nine roses – one for each decade of her life as well as the number ’90’ in the centre.
2016 proved to be a significant year for collectors and the 90th Birthday celebrations were no exception. The coins that appeared throughout Her Majesty’s reign have proved to be very popular over the years and we’re sure the 90th Birthday commemorative coins will be favourites among collectors in years to come.
Own your own piece of numismatic history
Jody Clark recently added his name to an illustrious list in the history books by becoming only the fifth person to create an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II for British circulating coins. Each artist has given their own portrayal of the Queen which offers us a numismatic timeline showing her changing profile over the years.
But which of the five is your favourite? Place your vote below.
1. Mary Gillick (1953 – 1970)
The very first coins of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign bore Mary Gillick’s portrait of a youthful looking Queen, which she engraved especially for the new coins. Her uncrowned portrait is still used on Maundy Money distributed each year by Her Majesty.
2. Arnold Machin RA (1968 – 1984)
With decimalisation approaching, the Queen’s portrait was refreshed with Arnold Machin’s new sculpture. Commissioned in 1964, it first appeared in 1968 on the new 5p and 10p coins. A version of the design with a tiara was introduced on stamps in 1967 and remains to this day.
3. Raphael Maklouf (1985 – 1997)
With his portrayal of Her Majesty, Raphael Maklouf aimed to “create a symbol, regal and ageless”. Unlike the others, his original formal portrait depicting Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Royal Diadem was ‘couped’ (cut off above the shoulders) to become the third official effigy.
4. Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS (1998 – 2015)
The next portrait was created to fill the full circle of the coin in a deliberate response to the new smaller 5p and 10p coins in circulation. The designer, Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, aimed to show the Queen with “poise and bearing” with his noticeably more mature portrayal.
5. Jody Clark (2015 – )
The latest portrait by Jody Clark was unveiled on 2nd March 2015 during a ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery. His elegant depiction of Queen Elizabeth II was selected by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee – and he is the first Royal Mint engraver for over 100 years to be commissioned for a royal coinage portrait.
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Today at the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Mint unveiled the new definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which will appear on our circulating coinage this year. It is only the fifth portrait to appear on our coins in the Queen’s 62-year reign, and as far as collectors are concerned, events don’t come much bigger than this.
The portrait, showing a side profile of the Queen wearing a crown and drop earrings, was created by designer Jody Clark and is the winning entry of a closed competition launched by the Royal Mint late last year. Aged 33 when his design was selected, he is the youngest of the five designers to have created a portrait for Queen Elizabeth II.
Clark’s new effigy marks a brand new chapter in the history of our circulating coinage, and as any collector will tell you, first issues hold a significance and a lasting degree of collectability for years into the future.
We will see the new coins in our change over the coming weeks and months as they begin filtering through the cash centres and banks to begin with. You can be sure that many of these will be going straight into collections as Change Checkers seek to grab them in their freshly struck condition.
What do you think of the new portrait?
Now you can collect all eight definitive coins featuring the Queen’s new effigy as soon as you spot them in your change.
Click here to order your New Portrait Collecting Pack