Today the Royal Mint unveiled what is to be the fifth and last portrait of Queen Elizabeth II to be featured on commemorative and circulating legal tender.
Unveiled at a ceremony in London’s National Portrait Gallery this morning, the portrait has received a positive response from both the industry and the general public.
This is an historic occasion in Commonwealth currency, as it will be the last portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II to feature as the obverse effigy for circulating coinage in Great Britain and several other countries in the commonwealth. The design was chosen by a closed competition commissioned by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee, with the winning entry by Royal Mint engraver, Jody Clark. He is the first Royal Mint engraver to be chosen to create a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years. At 33 years of age when his design was chosen, Jody is also the youngest of the five designers to have created the portraits of The Queen that have appeared on UK circulating coin during her 63 year reign. Previous portraits of the Queen have been designed by Mary Gillick (1952-1968), Arnold Machin (1968-1985), Raphael Maklouf (1985-1998), Ian Rank-Broadley (1998-2015).
The announcement of the new design was made in January, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passing of Mary Gillick, who designed the first effigy in 1952. The new design comes in the year that Queen Elizabeth II is to become the longest reigning monarch of the United Kingdom, surpassing Queen Victoria’s reign of 63 years and 216 days.
The new portrait design will start to appear in circulating coinage later in the year but is available now through a variety of Royal Mint 2015 coin sets.
It is likely, given the history of the obverse design of coinage from the United Kingdom, that Australia will be adopting this new design for it’s circulating and collector coinage soon.
The discovery of a multi-million dollar international counterfeiting and smuggling ring has prompted The Royal Mint to redesign their 1 pound coins. A Dutch crime organisation, who had set up their own modern minting facility complete with legitimate sounding company name and credentials, had been targeting the UK pound coins for some time before British detectives were able to track the counterfeit coins back to their Amsterdam origins. Estimates are that £45 million worth of counterfeit £1 pound coins circulate in the UK economy today and it is this figure that spurred the Mint on to reform this everyday circulating coin.
According to a story in The Independant “British police tipped off their Dutch counterparts, who raided the premises at the European Central Mint (ECM) and arrested the owner, after discovering machines capable of producing hundreds of coins per minute.”
There is even talk that the counterfeiting extends beyond the UK pound coin and into the realm of Euro currency.
The Royal Mint released a statement on March 19 stating they have “developed world-leading anti-counterfeiting technology which will enable Her Majesty’s Treasury to modernise the United Kingdom’s circulating currency with the production of a brand new £1 coin.”
As shown in the image above, the coin will feature a unique 12 sided shape, reminiscent of the UK’s own pre-decimal threepence coin and Australia’s 50 cent coin. The coin will be struck from two different coloured metals and contain an iSIS security feature, developed specifically by the Royal Mint themselves.
A public design competition will get underway at a later date to determine the design for the face of the coin, expected to be released into circulation in 2017. The obverse will feature the traditional Queen’s head motif with name and year of issue.
With a clean slate being offered on the reverse design we ask you, what would you like to see emblazoned on the new £1 release?