Coinage Portrait Tradition

CollectHistoric Coins

During the reformation, a new British coinage tradition began. Each time a monarch ascended the throne, their coinage portrait would face in the opposite direction to that of their predecessor. Although the reason for this is not certain, it may have started because Charles II wanted to turn his back on Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth. The long-standing tradition continues to this day, meaning King Charles III will face to the left on his coinage, as Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II faced right.

Over time, there has been one exception to the tradition. During his brief reign, Edward VIII broke protocol by insisting his portrait showed his favoured left side, meaning his effigy would face the same way as that of his predecessor, George V.

Following Edward VIII’s abdication, his coinage became even more fascinating. Created in the very early stages of production, The Royal Mint had only been able to prepare pattern pieces of the king’s coinage; no coins featuring the king’s portrait been issued or passed through the Royal Proclamation process. When Edward VIII requested a set, the new monarch George VI refused, as they were not deemed official UK coins. Many of the pattern pieces remain at The Royal Mint Museum to this day and you can read more about the coinage that never was here

Coin Tradition in article image.jpg

The correct protocol resumed during George VI’s reign, with his portrait facing left as if Edward VIII’s had faced right.

Feefo logo