This year marks Her Majesty’s 95th birthday year. Queen Elizabeth II is Britain’s longest reigning monarch, with an incredible 68 years on the throne.
The first Queen Elizabeth II coins were struck in 1953 and since then five different effigies have adorned our coins.
We asked you to vote for your favourite and portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the results are in…
1953 – 1967: Mary Gillick
The first coins of Queen Elizabeth’s reign bore Mary Gillick’s portrait of the young Queen, engraved especially for the new coins.
Her uncrowned portrait of the Queen is still used on the Maundy Money distributed each year by Her Majesty.
1968 – 1984: Arnold Machin RA
With the upcoming decimalisation, it was decided to refresh the Queen’s portrait with Arnold Machin’s new sculpture of the Queen. Commissioned in 1964, it first appeared in 1968 on the new 5p and 10p coins. A version of the design with tiara was also introduced on stamps in 1967 and remains to this day.
1985 – 1997: Raphael Maklouf
In creating his new effigy of Her Majesty, Raphael Maklouf aimed “to create a symbol, regal and ageless”.
His “couped” portrait depicts Queen Elizabeth II wearing the royal diadem favoured by her on the way to and from the State Opening of Parliament.
1998 – 2015: Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS
In 1997, a new portrait of Her Majesty was designed 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”.
2015 – Present: Jody Clark
The new “heads” side of the coin was designed by Jody Clark who at 33 was the youngest person to design a monarch’s profile on the currency.
It was the first time her portrait had been modified in 17 years and has remained on our UK coinage ever since.
This was arguably the first UK coin to introduce elements of personality with a hint of a smile. Clark is the first Royal Mint employee in over 100 years to design a UK definitive coin portrait
As Queen Elizabeth II is now one of the top five longest-reigning monarchs in the world, it’s only fitting that five of her portraits appear on our UK coinage.
Your favourite portrait will be revealed next week, so stay tune to find out if your vote won!
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2021 marks 50 years since our UK coins turned decimal, in the biggest numismatic change seen in centuries.
In celebration of this significant anniversary, The Royal Mint issued not one, but TWO Decimal Day 50ps in 2021. The reverse designs are the same, but that certainly can’t be said for their obverses…
The first version of the Decimal Day 50p, available exclusively in the 2021 Annual Coin Set, features the original Arnold Machin portrait of Her Majesty The Queen on the obverse – the same obverse used for the UK’s very first decimal coins.
However, the individual coin which was released later in January, featured Jody Clark’s fifth portrait of The Queen instead.
So why did The Royal Mint revert back to the Queen’s first decimal effigy for this new issue? Join Change Checker as we take a closer look…
Spot the Difference
The 50p available in the Annual Set which features the original Machin portrait on the obverse, quickly caught the eyes of collectors as this was the first time we have seen The Royal Mint revert a previous portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II on a base metal UK coin.
Marking 50 years since our UK coins went decimal, it seemed only fitting that this coin should include Machin’s obverse design.
But, when the Decimal Day 50p was individually released later in January, collectors had the opportunity to get their hands on a second version of this coin, as Jody Clark’s portrait of The Queen featured on the obverse.
So with two versions of the 2021 UK Decimal Day 50p out there, this coin is set to become a real talking point among collectors!
Arnold Machin Portrait
The significance of this anniversary and the fact that the Machin portrait of HM QEII was the first to be used on the UK’s 50p, makes for the perfect excuse to revert back to this previous effigy on the exclusive Decimal Day 50p within the Annual Set.
The UK’s very first decimal coins (5p, 10p, followed by 50p) actually entered circulation before 1971 and as they were circulating together with pre-decimal currency, a new portrait of The Queen was commissioned to help the new coins stand out.
Arnold Machin’s new portrait showed The Queen wearing a tiara given to The Queen by her grandmother, Queen Mary.
We love the fact that collectors have the chance to see this previous portrait reused on this brand new 50p and it certainly makes for interesting collecting!
Have you secure both versions of the 2021 Decimal Day for your collections? Let us know in the comments below!
But that’s not all, as this is not the first time we’ve seen different obverses used on the same coin…
2015 Battle of Britain 50p
In 2015, The Battle of Britain 50p shot to fame as collectors were quick to spot that there were THREE different versions of the coin, with different obverses on each of them.
The Brilliant Uncirculated 50p was issued early in 2015 and was quickly dubbed an ‘error’ coin. The coins, which were sold in presentation packs, had been struck without the denomination in either numbers or writing anywhere on the coin. Chancers were quick to play to this, with some managing to sell on the coins for near to £100 each on the secondary market.
After the controversy surrounding the coin erupted, the Royal Mint confirmed that the 50p intended for circulation later on in the year would have the ’50 PENCE’ denomination. But was this after they had realised their mistake?
So how did this coin end up with three different obverses?
Each version of this coin has caused a stir in the collecting world. Not only does this Battle of Britain 50p fail to feature a denomination on the Brilliant Uncirculated version, but the obverse is different for each finish used for the coin – a first for a UK commemorative coin.
In 2019, a brand new re-issued Brilliant Uncirculated version of the Battle of Britain 50p (from the 2019 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set) saw Jody Clark’s portrait and the 50 PENCE denomination – making this the FOURTH version of this 50p!
Do you have any of the Battle of Britain 50p coins? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the 2021 Annual Set with the Decimal Day 50p that features the original Arnold Machin obverse!
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Each coin has been struck to a superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality and protectively encapsulated in official Change Checker packaging, within in a Change Checker Display Page – perfect to slot into your Change Checker Album.
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A couple of weeks ago we asked you to vote for the Royal Portrait you liked the most.
If you were wondering what the results were, take a quick look at the “videographic” below…
You can own all four Portraits on original UK Crowns.