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!

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Cast your imagination back to the 19th centuryQueen Victoria ruled 400 million people in an empire that covered almost a quarter of the world’s surface!

With a name and title famous across the globe, it may come as a surprise to you that Queen Victoria never actually stepped foot in many of the countries she ruled over.

Map of the British Empire during Queen Victoria’s reign.

India was held with such high regard in Victoria’s heart that it became known as the Jewel in the Empire’s crown. In 1876, India awarded her the title of ‘Empress of India’ in a gesture of appreciation.

Although having never stepped foot in the country and living 4,500 miles away, Victoria’s portrait was minted on to the currency of India (the rupee) from 1840, so people could recognise their empress!

The rupee is one of the oldest currencies in the world, so to feature a British monarch for the first time was an important moment in numismatic history.

1849 Indian One Rupee. Source: Numista

The later portrait issued on rupees, similar to the Gothic Head effigy, can be considered one of the most beautiful coins of the empire.

1889 Indian One Rupee. Source: Numista.

A 22hr flight to Australia seems a long journey now but for Queen Victoria, a trip to this corner of the world would have taken her almost two months to get there!

So, there’s no surprises this was also a country that she never visited. However, the need for a British presence in the country was growing with the empire; as the empire grew, so did the need for coins. The Royal Mint opened branches in Australia and in 1855, a sovereign was minted outside of the UK for the first time – the Sydney sovereign.

1855 Sydney Sovereign. Source: Numista.

It featured a portrait of Victoria that was based on the Young Head effigy, but with a sprig of banksia weaved through Victoria’s hair, giving the portrait a distinct Australian feel.

The Sydney sovereign became incredibly successful and a number of Royal Mint branches were opened throughout Australia as a result. To identify the Mint that sovereigns were produced in, mintmarks were added to the coins, with a small ‘P’ for Perth, and an ‘M’ for Melbourne.

‘P’ Mintmark for sovereigns minted in Perth. Source: Numista.

The sovereign became legal tender in the majority of British colonies in the 1860s, and its importance in British trade, and worldwide circulation earned it the title “the King of Coins”. By the final years of the British Empire, the sovereign was minted in four continents across the globe.

India and Australia weren’t the only countries that saw Victoria’s portrait. Her image also reached as far as Hong Kong, Ceylon, East Africa and New Zealand. In 1870 the first Canadian dollar with Victoria’s portrait was issued, taking Victoria’s image to a new side of the world for people to see.

Despite never leaving Europe, Queen Victoria’s portrait and image stood strong on coins around the world. Whilst she never stepped foot in many of the countries that she ruled over, that didn’t stop people recognising her image around the world.

The coins that they used every day provided a link to the empire that they were a part of, despite the miles between them.


If you’ve found this blog informative and have enjoyed reading, let us know in the comments below!


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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.

 


 

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