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In 1953 The Royal Mint struck the first coins of the Queen’s reign. 60 years on we mark that anniversary with a unique event: for the first time ever, all four coinage portraits of the Queen will be struck together to create a set of £5 Coins. They will be among the most important coins of the past six decades. Collectors will be keen to secure their set, and when the appeal of a double-thickness Piedfort in gleaming silver is added, these sets will be hugely sought after.
Few works of art could be more instantly recognisable than the portraits we see on our coins, day after day. A coinage portrait comes to represent a nation, and as symbols of Britain, each of the four portraits of the Queen that have appeared since her Coronation are treasures in their own right. When they are brought together they transcend the iconic, sets so special that they will only ever be struck in precious metal and only ever offered together – no individual coins will be issued, nor will they be available in any other set.
Each coin has been carefully crafted by The Royal Mint’s own engravers, painstakingly transferring each portrait to the £5 coin – which is a new denomination for three of them – taking the utmost care to preserve the vision of the original artist. The coins are dated 2013: this 60th anniversary year. And here they are struck in double the weight of sterling silver Proof coin. The added appeal of that king of coins for collectors, the mighty Piedfort will mean they will be popular – a limited edition of only 2,700 sets will be available.
What a story these four portraits tell – from the charming and youthful portrait of the Queen by Mary Gillick that first appeared in 1953 to the bold and realistic effigy created by Ian-Rank Broadley that has appeared on British coins since 1998. The Arnold Machin portrait took Britain into decimalisation, while the design by Raphael Maklouf refreshed the coinage in 1985. Together, the four effigies chart the history of a monarch who has reigned beyond a Diamond Jubilee, themselves part of that history.
The portraits are paired with a new interpretation of the Royal Arms – the definitive British heraldic design – by James Butler. While traditional, it is also powerful and dramatic, the perfect foil to the grace and beauty of the obverse designs. And with the Queen’s Portraits 2013 UK £5 Silver Piedfort Set you can explore the story behind the coins, sharing the experiences of the artists and the insight of The Royal Mint’s own experts.