The queen isn’t in the altogether. Not that the portraits of Queen Elizabeth II gracing Australia’s past coinage have ever been risqué, but the coins about to be introduced will depict Her Majesty with her shoulders covered.
In a Sept. 3 announcement, Governor-General of Australia Sir Peter Cosgrove said, “This new effigy will be a new image for a new era – continuing to tell the story of a reign and lifetime,” adding, “Congratulations to the Royal Australian Mint and Jody Clark – the new coins and effigy are set to become a familiar sight for years to come.”
Ross MacDiarmid, chief executive officer of RAM, added, “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.”
All Australian coins depicting past monarchs remain legal tender. Not all bank notes depict a vignette of the monarch. According to the MRI Bankers’ Guide to Foreign Currency, “All pound and dollar denominated notes of the Commonwealth Bank and the Reserve Bank are redeemable. A pound equals two dollars and 10 shillings make one dollar. Notes above 10 pounds are very rare, and command high premiums.”
The MRI guide also cautions, “The Reserve Bank of Australia may refuse to redeem damaged or outmoded notes. In some cases notes may be seized without compensation.”
Jody Clark is an employee of the British Royal Mint. He has the distinction of being the first BRM employee to have designed a portrait of the monarch to appear on Australian coins in more than 100 years. (The 1910 to 1936 portrait of King George V appearing on Australia’s coins was designed by Australian Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal.) Clark’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II first introduced on British coins in 2015 was submitted anonymously in a design competition Rather than manually sculpting the required low relief design, Clark’s sketches were brought into low relief by using computer-aided design software.
The new (sixth) portrait of the queen about to appear on Australia’s coins is an adaption of the current British design by Clark; however, the Australian coins will include the queen’s shoulders appropriately covered and she will wear the Victorian coronation necklace absent on current British coinage.
Proof and uncirculated $1 coins dated 2019 have already been released depicting both the Clark and the previously used Vladimir Gottwald portraits of the monarch. Mintages are limited to 5,000 proofs and 30,000 uncirculated coins.
The Gottwald portrait was first used in 2000. Gottwald was an RAM Design and Engraving Section member when he submitted his design proposal in 1996. (He is now retired.) At that time, the portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley was chosen by the queen. The Rank-Broadley design was first used on British and on some Australian collector coins in 1998. Gottwald’s design first appeared on Australian coins two years later at the time of a royal visit.
In a similar manner to the coinage of Queen Victoria, the coins of Queen Elizabeth II struck for both Great Britain and for Australia (as well as for other countries) have shown the monarch aging gracefully throughout her long reign. The only Australian coins on which Queen Victoria appears are composed of gold. These 19th century coins initially depict the monarch in her youth, then in a youthful pose but with a different hairdo, then as an aged yet dignified queen.
The first portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to appear on Australian coins is the 1953 design by Mary Gillick also appearing on coins of Great Britain. The queen is uncrowned on this design, a design that was described as “fresh and approachable” at the time of its release.
The Arnold Machin portrait of the queen first used on Australian coins beginning in 1966 was adopted on British coins two years later at the time of decimalization. This was followed by the Raphael Maklouf design in 1985. While the Maklouf design was mandated for use on British coins, it was not required to be adopted for use on Australia’s issues.
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