Portraits of a Queen – the changing face of Britain’s coinage

Discover a little of the history behind the Queen’s effigy and vote for your favourite portrait.

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As well as the 60th Coronation Anniversary, 2013 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s coinage.

The first Queen Elizabeth II coins were struck in 1953 and since then four different effigies adorned our coins.

gillick - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

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.

machin - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage1968 – 1984: Arnold Machin RA

With the upcoming decimilisation, 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.

maklouf - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

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.

irb - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage1998 – 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”.

portraits of a queen - Portraits of a Queen - the changing face of Britain's coinage

You can own all four Portraits on original UK Crowns.

Click here for more info about the Portraits of the Queen 4-coin set


  1. Peter Moran on June 20, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    I bought the coronation £5 coin and whe I got it there was I booklet showin the presentation case with thatriangular kind shape 50p there are ten off these in the case, when you buy the first one you get the pres/box and when u buy the last 50p you get a curators glove for handling the coins, anyway I got the £5 coin a couple of months ago and still no more coinage arriving has anyone here recieved the rest of the collection I’ve mentioned
    Thank you pete Moran

    • Ian Glen on June 25, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Hi Pete

      Our Customer Service team will contact you directly about this.

      Sorry for the delay in coming back to you.

      The Westminster Collection

  2. Jim on June 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    This is very similar to The Royal Mint’s blog article on this topic which featured a stunning infographic.


    • Ian Glen on June 13, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      Hi Jim – we love it too. If only £5 would still buy us 55 pints of beer!

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