What are the coinage portraits of Her Majesty The Queen?

Coinage Portraits of Her Majesty The Queen

As we head into the Platinum Jubilee of her Majesty The Queen in 2022, we thought it would be interesting to UK coin collectors to know all the different portraits used on UK coinage over the 70 years of her reign.

UK Coin Portraits
UK Coin Portraits

The Queen is now the longest-reigning monarch in the entire history of Great Britain and has appeared on a huge number of coins both from the Royal Mint in the UK and across the British Empire.

The first coinage portrait of Her Majesty appeared in the year of her coronation (crowning as Queen) in 1953. Looking for the meaning of the IRB or JC initials under the Queen’s head? read on.

Mary Gillick

The First Definitive Coinage Portrait 1953

Mary Gillick was a sculptor in 1952 and was one of 17 artists invited to submit designs for the first coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, who had ascended the throne in February 1952.

coinage-portrait-1
coinage-portrait-1

Arnold Machin RA

The Second Definitive Coinage Portrait, 1968

Coinage Portrait Arnold Machin
Coinage Portrait Arnold Machin

A sculptor from the Royal Academy, The Queen sat for Arnold Machin four times whilst he was making sketches and then modelling in clay.

The Duke of Edinburgh was closely involved in the process.

Raphael Maklouf

The Third Definitive Coinage Portrait, 1985

Raphael Maklouf The Third Definitive Coinage Portrait
Raphael Maklouf The Third Definitive Coinage Portrait

The Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC) invited the artist Raphael Maklouf to submit designs for their competition in which they would select a new coinage portrait for Queen Elizabeth II. In the previous competition, Arnold Machin had rejected the official photographs given to all those competing and Maklouf was not happy with the supplied profile photograph of The Queen.

Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS

The Fourth Definitive Coinage Portrait, 1998

IRB
IRB

If you have ever wondered what “IRB” next to the Queen’s head on a UK coin, it’s the initials of Ian Rank-Broadley.

It took months of work to perfect the design and overcome the technical issues of the medium of coinage but on the release of the new effigy into circulation in early 1998, the design depicted a realistic portrait.

The effigy of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for all UK & Commonwealth coinage issued by the Royal Mint 1998. The Artist’s initials IRB appear below the portrait. The Artist was influenced by Pistrucci’s portrait of George III issued in 1817, where the head crowds the field of the coin.

Jody Clark

The Fifth Definitive Coinage Portrait, 2015

Jody Clark The Fifth Definitive Coinage Portrait, 2015
Jody Clark The Fifth Definitive Coinage Portrait, 2015

In 2015 a closed competition was held by the RMAC to select a new coinage portrait of The Queen.

Amongst the designers invited to participate were those at The Royal Mint, with each entry submitted anonymously to allow the consideration of each design on its own merits.

The portrait approved by Her Majesty’s Treasury and ultimately The Queen herself shows the monarch wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem crown from her coronation.

Jody designed the fifth and latest portrait of Queen Elizabeth II which features on all pound sterling coins, that’s over 2,733,140,001 coins in the UK alone. Other notable designs include:

  • Designer of Queen’s Beast collection

The initials “J.C” are a familiar sight on all recent British Coins.

Designed by Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark.

John Bergdahl

The Platinum Jubilee Commemorative Portrait, 2022

John Bergdahl
John Bergdahl

To mark the Platinum Jubilee, the experienced coinage artist John Bergdahl has created a celebratory portrait of The Queen for our commemorative coin collection honouring the occasion.

The design features Her Majesty on horseback in the uniform of the Horse Guards.

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