It was in 1990 that the Royal Mint introduced a new British coin, or rather a new denomination for the traditional crown, which now had a face value of £5 and in place of decimalised crowns denominated as 25 new pence. The first coin was released on the occasion of the 90th birthday of the Queen Mother and was the first time the Maklouf effigy of the Queen appeared on crown coins. 1990 was also the year the Royal Canadian Mint introduced a new obverse on Canadian coinage, which was a break from tradition when they commissioned their own effigy for the Queen. Similar in appearance to that of the Maklouf effigy, the work from Dora Depedery-Hunt depicted the Queen wearing the George IV State diadem and diamond necklace with matching earrings. Ms. Depedery-Hunt was the first Canadian to have designed an obverse image for Canada’s coinage. But, as many collectors noted the stark resemblance to the Maklouf effigy introduced onto British coinage in 1985, some had questioned why the commission had taken place in the first instance. In Australia, the kookaburra made its first appearance also in 1990 with a beautifully designed series of gold and silver coins, in particular, a two-ounce silver piece which stood out because of the design and quality of the strike.
Notable royal anniversaries were the 40th anniversary of the Queen’s accession in 1992 though the Royal Mint waited until 1993 to mark the Queen’s Coronation anniversary with the release of a £5 crown. The Royal Australian Mint chose 1992 to release a four-coin set highlighting the royal ladies, which included the Queen’s mother, her sister, her daughter, and daughter in law. The next royal anniversary was the 50th or Golden wedding anniversary of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. On this occasion and for the first time since the reign of Queen Mary I, the image of a serving royal consort was included on the coinage, William III and Mary II being co-sovereigns. The same year of the royal wedding anniversary, the world learned of the untimely and surprising death of Princess Diana, one year after her divorce from Prince Charles. Called the most famous woman in the world — perhaps after Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana was killed in an auto accident in Paris towards the end of the summer of 1997. A memorial coin, which included an image of the popular Princess, was not released from the Royal Mint until 1999. In 1998, the Royal Mint finally introduced a new circulation-type bi-metallic £2 coin, which had been delayed a year. Both 1997 and 1998-dated coins were released but it was the 1997 version which became a one-year-only issue. The next year, a fourth effigy was introduced onto British and Commonwealth coinage. Created by the eminent British sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley, this likeness of the Queen is still in use on the coins of some territorial coinage. The Queen was depicted wearing the easily recognisable “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland” tiara given to Queen Mary in 1893.
1992 Australia $25 Queen’s 40th Anniversary
This was a four-coin set focusing on the ladies in the royal family at the time, namely the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, and Princess Diana. The coins were also issued in gold, but the silver versions were crown-sized and looked more impressive to my mind. The sets were released on the occasion of the Queen’s 40th anniversary of reign, and I think for many, the inclusion of a coin depicting the Princess of Wales was really the main attraction. I found the Princess Diana coin from a broken-up set and immediately bought it because I have always been a fan of the work of Stuart Devlin. His portrait of Diana wearing the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, a piece of jewellery she often wore, seemed a good choice. The coin and set became sought after in 1992 as it was the same year the royal couple announced their separation and even more popular after her untimely death.
1997 Canada Dollar, 10th Anniversary of the Loon
Of all the Canadian silver dollars released in the 1990s, this was definitely one of my favourites. The design was a variation of the Loon shown on the circulation coin introduced in 1987 and which replaced the voyageur design and one dollar banknote. This design probably would have worked quite well had it been chosen for the ordinary dollar, but it certainly was nicely designed as a commemorative piece.
1997 UK Wedding Crown
The fourth time a commemorative obverse side was featured on a British crown coin since 1953, it was in celebration of the Queen and Prince Philip’s 50th wedding anniversary. Sculptor Philip Nathan, the same artist who created the Royal wedding crown in 1981, designed elegantly detailed and conjoined portraits of the Queen and Prince Philip. The result was an exceptional and memorable coin. It was also the first time in more than 440 years that a serving English or British consort had been portrayed on a coin of the realm but not the first coin I added to my collection with an image of Prince Philip. To me, the portraits of the royal couple are timeless, shown head and shoulders, the Queen wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara and the Prince in a simple suit. The design will stand the test of time and is just one of the nicest British commemoratives. The first of these coins I obtained was an Uncirculated version from the Post Office for its face value, and the second was a Brilliant Uncirculated example in a presentation folder. It wasn’t until 13 years later that I purchased the Proof silver coin and I’m just sorry I didn’t find one much earlier.
Variation of Effigies — 1990 Isle of Man First Cat Crown
Perhaps a more elegant or complete variation of the Maklouf effigy with a defined head and shoulders depiction, I first saw this variation on Isle of Man “Cat” crowns in 1988. The 1990 coin included an image of a supposed New York alley cat, and as I was a full-time resident of Manhattan at the time, I thought it might be a nice souvenir of my time living in the Big Apple.