The Crowned Coinage Portrait of
His Majesty King Charles III
The coronation of His Majesty King Charles III is the ﬁrst coronation of a British king in 85 years. To mark this historic event, The Royal Mint has worked with acclaimed sculptor Martin Jennings to create the ﬁrst crowned coinage portrait of His Majesty The King.
“It’s an amazing thing that this one-oﬀ design will be produced thousands of times,
with each coin faithfully representing the original.”
A highly respected British sculptor, Martin Jennings has been making public sculptures for many years. His work in celebration of great writers and poets, including John Betjeman, Charles Dickens and George Orwell, is particularly well known and admired. He has also created representations of nursing pioneer Mary Seacole, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and comedian Ronnie Barker. A feature of his work is the text carved in either stone or slate that accompanies his bronze sculptures.
The sculptor recently worked with The Royal Mint to create the ﬁrst deﬁnitive coinage portrait of His Majesty The King, who personally approved the likeness. He has since moved on to design the ﬁrst crowned coinage portrait of King Charles III. We talked to him about how he approached the distinct challenge of portraying the monarch wearing the Tudor crown.
“To research the way the Tudor crown was presented I looked at old coins, such as those of George VI. There have been several coinage portraits produced featuring closed arch crowns like this, including for Queen Elizabeth II, and seeing how the design challenge was resolved on diﬀerent coins was instructive and helpful.
“I noticed how high on the head the crown sits and also that the addition of a crown produces a more vertical image. This has an eﬀect on the layout of the rest of the accompanying inscriptions. The head has to come lower down on the coin table. The portrait I’ve helped design is not quite as tall as in some of the other versions featuring this crown.
“Creating a crowned portrait involved mathematical calculation and precision. When modelling The King’s head for the coin, I wanted to give a sense of three dimensions in very low relief. The curve of the crown helps to create the illusion that the edges of the head are turning away from the viewer.
“I modelled the crown in plasticene onto a plaster cast of the head. The design was completed using digital technology with the team at The Royal Mint. It was a very time-consuming process, as it needed to be exact. The Garter King of Arms was involved and I had many discussions with the Product Design team to ensure we got the heraldic details right.”
Martin Jennings reﬂected on his work on the crowned portrait coin design:
“The whole of the design of the obverse gives me a sense of satisfaction, not just the head and the crown but the lettering, spacing, background, all of it. It’s very exciting to think that these most public pieces of art, that are part of everyday life, will feature my portrait of The King. It’s an amazing thing that this one-oﬀ design will be produced thousands of times, with each coin faithfully representing the original.”
The crowned coinage portrait of The King by Martin Jennings features on the obverse of all the new coins in The Coronation of His Majesty King Charles III UK Coin Collection, a collection that also includes three new reverse designs, a Sovereign and several sets of historic coins.