Skip to content

Posts Tagged ‘Queen Victoria Old Head Portrait’

From youthful queen to graceful empress – discover the five faces of Queen Victoria

Many coin enthusiasts will recognise the three major depictions of Victoria on her coinage; the Young Head, the Jubilee Head, and the Old Head. You may even have seen the beautiful Gothic Head portrait that featured on a new denomination of Victoria’s coinage. However, very few will have heard about the portrait that never featured on a UK coin – the Sydney Type II portrait.

Each effigy has a different and unique story to tell and gives an insight to the fascinating and captivating tales of Victoria’s life and reign. Here are the five portraits, including the ‘secret’ Sydney portrait, that symbolise those 63 years of her reign.

The longest reigning…

The Young Head portrait was the first official effigy of Queen Victoria to be used on circulating coinage. William Wyon’s design represented a youthful 18 year old queen, one that many people never would have thought would go on to lead the world’s largest empire and celebrate a rule lasting over 60 years.

ST UK 1839 Victoria Young Head Farthing Both Sides 1 - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria
A UK 1839 Farthing featuring the Young Head portrait

To this day it is the longest that a portrait has featured on our circulating coinage, having been issued on bronze coins up until 1895. The Young Head effigy is considered the most favoured portrait of Victoria’s coinage, undergoing only minor changes throughout its lifespan. A variation was even designed by Wyon’s son, called the ‘Bun Head’ portrait.

The most beautiful…

In 1847, William Wyon created a second portrait of Queen Victoria, but little did he know that this portrait would go on to be regarded as one of the most beautiful representations of the Victorian age.

ST UK 1849 Queen Victoria Godless Florin Silver Coin Obverse 2 - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria
A UK 1849 Florin featuring the Gothic Head portrait

The revival of Gothic culture was seen across Victorian life. This particular portrait drew its name from the distinct gothic font used for the inscription around the edge, and the intricate detail on the crown that Victoria wears is considered a numismatic masterpiece.

The one that never made it to Britain…

Perth Mint portait - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria
The Sydney Mint Type II Portrait

Victoria’s portrait was used on coins that were issued at imperial mints within the empire, but the Sydney Mint Type II portrait was only ever seen on Australian coins. First issued in 1857, it was produced exclusively on Australian coins for only 14 years!  It depicted a younger queen with a sprig of banksia (an Australia plant) weaved into her hair, which gave it a distinct Australian feel.

The most controversial…

By 1887 Victoria had ruled for over 50 years and overseen the expansion of the British Empire into the largest the world had ever seen. A new portrait was needed to reflect the achievements and elegance of an elder monarch. The Jubilee Head portrait was designed by Sir Joseph Boehm and was the first to feature Victoria in her mourning veil.

ST UK 1887 Queen Victoria Double Florin Silver Coin Both Sides 1 1024x607 - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria
A UK 1887 Double Florin featuring the Jubilee Head portrait

The portrait was only circulated for six years, partly because the public thought that the crown was balanced precariously on her head and didn’t reflect the queen with the grace that she deserved.  Because of the split public opinion, the portrait was shortly replaced just six years after it was introduced.

The Queen in mourning…

By 1893 Thomas Brock had created the Old Head portrait.  It depicted a mature Queen with her mourning veil draped over her shoulder and tiara. Victoria’s veil had become integral to her image since the death of her husband in 1861, right up until her final years.  This is one of the most famous images of Victoria and features on the final sovereign of her reign, issued in 1901.

ST UK 1901 Queen Victoria Old Head Gold Sovereign Both Sides 2 - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria
A UK 1901 Sovereign featuring the Old Head portrait

Of all the monarchs, Victoria’s reign seems to have captured the imagination of the public more than any other. Every coin and portrait tells a unique story – from the Young Head which depicted a promising Queen, right through to the Old Head which represented an aging and graceful monarch.  


If you’re interested…

You now have the unique chance to own the secret Sydney portrait on a new issue from the Perth Mint. Click here to secure yours now! >>>

Queen Victoria 200th Anniversary Silver 1oz Proof Perth Mint Product Images5 - From youthful queen to graceful empress - discover the five faces of Queen Victoria