By Richard Giedroyc
Perhaps the most recognized person appearing on coins anywhere and at any time in history is about to get a new portrait.
According to the British Royal Mint, the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of Queen Elizabeth II appearing on her coinage for the past 16 years is about to be updated. This will be the fifth definitive coin portrait used on British coins during the 62 years in which the queen has been on the throne. Other portraits have appeared on some coins of other nations.
The initial portrait of the queen by Mary Gillick appears on her coins beginning at the time of her coronation in 1953 through about 1965 to 1967, depending on the issue and country of origin. On these coins the queen appears as a woman in her mid-20s.
Cecil Thomas designed the ‘realm portrait’ of the queen facing right appearing on coins of Malaya and British Borneo during this period. Thomas’ intention was to depict the queen in the same context as her father George VI had appeared. The portrait was approved for use on colonial coins and certain medals.
The portrait of Elizabeth II changed at the time of the introduction of decimal coins in Great Britain in 1968. Designed by Arnold Machin, the wreath appearing on the Gillick portrait was replaced with a tiara. The Machin design would continue to be used through 1984.
Both the Machin and Gillick designs avoided the couped neck portrait appearing on coins of British monarchs earlier during the 20th century. The couped neck including a necklace and earrings is depicted on the Raphael D. Maklouf portrait of the queen appearing on British coins issued between 1985 and 1997. The royal diadem she wears was worn as she traveled to and from the State Opening of Parliament.
Canadian artist Dora de Pedery-Hunt designed the portrait to be used next. The portrait was already on use on Canadian coins since 1990. It depicts the queen as she appears at age 64.
In 1998 the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait of the queen chosen in a design competition and first appearing on the 1997 Golden Wedding Anniversary crown was adopted on all British coinage. The design depicts a mature queen whom at the time was 71 years old.
The portrait of the queen appearing on Canadian coins changed in 2003 with the adoption of the Susanna Blunt design created from a photograph.
The Royal Mint Advisory Committee commissioned the closed competition for the 2015 British coin design. An undisclosed number of designers have been invited to submit design proposals.
It is assumed but not confirmed the obverse legend “D.G. Reg. F.D.” or “Dei Gratia Regina F.D.” for the Latin Dei gratia regina fidei defensor or “By the grace of God, queen and defender of the faith” will continue to appear on the new coins.
BRM Chief Executive Adam Lawrence said of the upcoming design change, “This change of effigy will make 2015 a vintage year for UK coins, and while it will be hugely exciting for us all to see the new design appear on the coins we use every day, we also believe it is right that the sovereign, our most famous coin which gets its name from the fact that it carries an image of the monarch on its obverse, be among the first to carry both the current portrait on these new releases, and the new effigy when it is revealed.”
The sovereign of which Lawrence spoke is a gold coin denomination originating during the 15th century. Plans call for 2015-dated sovereigns to be first issued depicting the Ian Rank-Broadley portrait, than depicting the new effigy later during the same calendar year.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News.
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