The reveal of the Queen’s fifth coin portrait

02 Mar 2015

The Royal Mint has today unveiled a new coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, giving the general public the first glimpse of the image that will soon be a familiar sight on United Kingdom coins.

This is only the fifth definitive portrait of The Queen to appear on our circulating coins since her accession to the throne in 1952, making it a very rare event indeed. When it appears in our change later this year, it will become the fourth portrait currently in circulation, joining those created in 1968, 1985 and 1998; together, the coins that carry them tell the story of Her Majesty’s lifetime and paint a compelling picture of the story of her reign.

It has also been revealed today that the new portrait is designed by Jody Clark. He is the first Royal Mint engraver to be chosen to create a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years.

Just 33 when his design was selected from a number of anonymous submissions to a design competition, Jody is 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.

Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint, said: “This change of royal portrait will make 2015 a vintage year for UK coins, and it will be hugely exciting for us all to see the new design appear on the coins we use every day.

“Jody’s achievement is something that we can celebrate as a proud moment for The Royal Mint. Capturing a portrait on the surface of a coin demands the utmost skill, and is one of the most challenging disciplines of the coin designer’s art. The last Royal Mint Engraver to be commissioned to undertake a royal portrait was George William de Saulles, who engraved the portrait of Edward VII which first appeared on the coinage in 1902”

Commenting on the honour of being selected, Jody Clark said: “I really liked the four previous coin portraits - each one is strong in its own way. I hope that I’ve done Her Majesty justice and captured her as I intended, in a fitting representation. The news that my design had been chosen was quite overwhelming, and I still can’t quite believe that my royal portrait will be featured on millions of coins, playing a small part in The Royal Mint’s 1,000 year history.”

Jody’s elegant portrayal of The Queen, wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem crown worn for her Coronation, was selected in a closed competition organised by the Royal Mint Advisory Committee (RMAC), a consultative panel to Her Majesty’s Treasury comprising experts from such fields as history, sculpture, architecture, art and design. A number of specialist designers from across Britain were invited to submit their own interpretations of the Queen’s portrait under anonymous cover, and each one was judged on its merits and suitability before the winning artwork was recommended to the Chancellor and, ultimately, The Queen for approval.

Coins featuring the new effigy go into production as of today, and the public are being urged to keep a watchful eye on their coins later this year when it will start to appear in pockets, purses and piggy banks across the land.

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About Jody Clark

Jody Clark is a member of The Royal Mint’s team of talented designers and engravers. Born in the Lake District in 1981, he studied illustration at the University of Central Lancashire before building a wealth of experience in computer-aided design in the packaging industry, among other freelance illustration and design projects. Since embarking on his career at The Royal Mint, Jody has worked on some notable projects such as the medals struck to celebrate the 2014 Ryder Cup and Nato Summit. His celebrated contemporary interpretation of the iconic Britannia adorned the coin’s 2014 collection. Jody’s portrait of the Queen has a sense of the monarch’s warmth, with a hint of a smile, reflecting the modern queen we see today. It incorporates both modern elements and some that recognise the effigies that have gone before.

“Although we were given photographs of Queen Elizabeth’s profile, I researched images online, something that past engravers would not have had the luxury of doing, which also helped me to decide what regalia I would include. I chose the Royal Diamond Diadem. I think it’s the most familiar and I wanted to make some clear distinctions between the portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, as Her Majesty really hasn’t aged too much in the years since. The Diamond Diadem was worn by The Queen to her Coronation and was featured in the portraits designed by Raphael Maklouf and Arnold Machin, so it’s a real nod to the past. ”

The four previous effigy portraits

It is standard practice to update the royal portrait on coinage every 15 to 20 years. The current coinage portrait of The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS has been a constant presence on circulating and commemorative coins since 1998.

The Rank-Broadley Portrait, 1998

The fourth definitive coinage portrait was introduced in 1998, and was created by Surrey-born sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS. His design was strong and took many months to complete, but Ian Rank-Broadley felt, “It was essential to the integrity of the project for the portrait to be a recognisable one, and not over-idealised.”

The Maklouf Portrait, 1985

Raphael Maklouf was born in Jerusalem in 1937 and came to Britain after the Second World War. His was the third definitive portrait of The Queen, and it first appeared in 1985. It was a formal depiction and was ‘couped’ (or cut-off) above the shoulders, the first time a coinage portrait has been treated this way during The Queen’s reign. Maklouf was proud to report that, “Her Majesty exclaimed that I took less time to complete the portrait in front of her eyes than it sometimes took photographers to get the right lighting and take the photographs.”

The Machin Portrait, 1968

Preparations for decimalisation began secretly in 1962, with the coinage needing a whole new suite of designs, including a more up-to-date portrait of The Queen, who had been on the throne for 15 years. Sculptor Arnold Machin, born in Stoke-on-Trent, England in 1911, was selected from initial designs and would go on to model his portrait of The Queen in two sittings to perfect his effigy.

Unusually, although still in side-profile, The Queen is seen almost from the back, perhaps prompting John Betjeman’s judgment of the portrait as a little “racy”. Machin was clear on his aim; “To produce a design with charm and dignity and yet without sentimentality.”

The Gillick Portrait, 1953

In 1952, Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth II, and the first coins of her reign were struck. The first definitive portrait of The Queen was created by Mary Gillick, a British sculptor born in Nottingham, England in 1881. Gillick captured the promise of the young Elizabeth, wishing to reflect her youthfulness rather than a perfect likeness of her physical age. Her portrait echoed the classical, with The Queen wearing a wreath of laurel, rather than the crown we are so used to seeing today. The portrait was attractive and idealised, far from photographic, and very different in style to the more realistic portraits that would follow.

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