Why Australia’s new currency update is head and shoulders above the rest…

For the first time in 20 years, a brand new portrait of the Queen will be featured on Australia’s currency update.

Since her coronation in 1953, five effigies of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II have appeared on the obverse of Australian coins – creating a numismatic timeline which shows her changing profile over the years.

Previous effigies were designed by Mary Gillick (1953), Arnold Machin (1966), and Raphael Maklouf (1985), however since 1998, Australian coins have used the current effigy by Ian Rank-Broadley, except during 2000, when Royal Australian Mint designer Vladimir Gottwald’s effigy was used on the 50c Royal Visit coin. 

The inclusion of an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse of Australia’s coinage is mandated by Regulation 4(c) of the Currency Regulations made under the Currency Act 1965.

This new effigy by Jody Clark marks the sixth update to the Queen’s portrait and is said to continue the story of her reign and lifetime, although you might notice something a little different about this updated design…


Sixth Coin Effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019 $1 Uncirculated Coin. Obverse featuring the new design, reverse showing the old. Credit: ramint.gov.au


Whilst continuing to depict Her Majesty facing to the right and wearing the diamond diadem crown, unusually this new image will break from the traditional UK design by also including the Queen’s shoulders and the Victorian coronation necklace.

Mr Clark is responsible for the UK’s most recent portrait of Her Majesty, updated in 2015 and selected by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee.

His designs have also featured on recent releases such as the Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding £5 and the Queen’s Beasts £5 coins.

Chief Executive of the Royal Australian Mint, says: “The transition to a new effigy on all Australian coinage will begin in 2019 and continue into 2020. Coins carrying previous portraits of the Queen will remain in circulation.”


Sixth Coin Effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2019 $1 Packaging. Credit: ramint.gov.au


However there is some controversy surrounding this coinage update, as the Australian Republic Movement (ARM) continue their campaign to remove the Queen as head of state in Australia.

What are your thoughts on Australia’s new currency update and do you think the design is head and shoulders above the rest? Let us know in the comments below.



Secure the Australian Sixth Effigy coin for your collection!


Enter the new effigy era with this striking $1 coin. Click here to place your order >>

The Royal Mint Coin Packs which look destined to become rarities

As every collector knows, an error can add significant value to a coin. You only need to look at the undated 20p saga to realise just how much impact a simple human mistake can have. Those 20p coins with a mismatching obverse and reverse still frequently sell for as much as £50.

But sometimes it also pays to look further than the coin itself for such slip-ups.

Brilliant Uncirculated presentation packs, or BU Packs, are issued annually by the Royal Mint and are a collector’s item in their own right. They contain a full set of uncirculated coins for the year, along with illustrated packaging and more information about each coin.

These packs are equally prone to human errors, and this year has already been an eventful one in that respect.


In fact neither of the £5 coins in the 2015 BU Packs have edge inscriptions

2015 Annual Coin Set

If you were among the first collectors to secure a 2015 UK Coin Pack from the Royal Mint, the likelihood is you’ve been sent one with a printed error.

The specification in these original packs states an edge inscription for both the Battle of Waterloo and the Churchill commemorative £5 coins, but in fact both of these base metal coins have milled edges with no inscription. Once the Royal Mint were made aware of the error, the packaging was promptly changed to remove the text, but of course a significant number of packs had already slipped the net.

The New Portrait BU Pack

Royal-Mint-Errors 2

A watermark was overlooked in this image of the Queen and Prince Philip

The latest presentation pack was issued recently to mark Jody Clark’s new effigy of the Queen, with all coins featuring his new portrait.

Again, if you were quick to snap up one of these packs you may have noticed a couple of mistakes which were overlooked in production.

The first is an errant photographic library watermark which somehow found its way onto the final packaging, and appears in an image of the Queen and Prince Philip.


Ian Rank-Broadley is mistakenly named as the obverse designer

The second and more surprising mistake to look out for is the specification on the reverse stating Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS rather than Jody Clark as the obverse designer of the new coins.

At the time of writing, we understand the Royal Mint has withdrawn the pack from sale and are awaiting a re-print.

For now, it is impossible to say precisely how rare these packs are, and it is unlikely that the Royal Mint will ever disclose the exact number.

It’s normal to feel short-changed if you’ve bought any item which has a defect. However, if you have recently added one of these error packs to your collection, you have actually secured something which is quite special to collectors, and may turn out to be highly prized in years to come.

Almost half of Change Checkers prefer Machin

Jody Clark’s new effigy of Her Majesty means there have now been a total of five Queen Elizabeth II portraits on our decimal coins, and recently we asked you to pick your favourite of the lot.

Voting is now closed, the results are in, and there is a clear winner…

Poll results

Machin’s portrait was the clear winner of our poll

With a landslide of nearly 43% Arnold Machin’s portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II was voted as your favourite.

Machin’s portrait was used on British coins between 1968 and 1984 and replaced Mary Gillick’s coronation portrait which had been in place since 1953.

With decimalisation edging closer in the sixties, it was decided to refresh the existing Queen’s portrait in time for the new coinage.

Gillick’s original was a popular and youthful portrayal, but with the Queen approaching 40, a change was needed.


Machin’s portrait appeared on British coins from 1968

Arnold Machin was one of several artists chosen to compete for the new effigy. He was a talented sculptor and tutor at the Royal College of Art when his design was chosen for the second portrait and was granted four sittings at Balmoral and Buckingham Palace to perfect his work. It was approved in 1964 but not seen on our coinage until the very first 5p and 10p pieces of 1968.

Like Gillick, Machin decided against the couped (cut-off at the neck) style which had been so common for previous monarchs. He added draping around the shoulders and replaced the laureate with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara which was given to Elizabeth from Queen Mary as a wedding gift.

A new era for British coins

So why did Machin’s new portrait become so popular, and why is it still popular with Change Checkers?

For many, it is about what his effigy represents. Machin’s elegant portrayal of a young Queen become synonymous with decimalisation and the beginning of a new era for British coins. Of course, for others it is simply about an affinity with the coins they grew up with.

These days, Machin’s portrait only exists on a few denominations, but even if you haven’t noticed it on our coins, it is probably very familiar to you.

In fact, it is the most widely reproduced single work of art in history.

Machin’s effigy was first used on postage stamps in 1967, and has subsequently been used on almost all British definitive stamps. It is estimated that there have been approximately 320 billion copies produced to date, and this figure is rising daily.

Whilst many of us may not be familiar with Arnold Machin, his portrait has reached more people than he could ever have imagined, and it is evidently still a firm favourite with collectors.

656T NewThe First Arnold Machin Coins

Now you have the chance to own some of the very first decimal coins to feature Machin’s new portrait.

The First and Last Decimalisation Collector Page includes 14 original coins which allow you to compare decimal and pre-decimal coins in a rare pairing of old and new.