For a lot of dedicated collectors, the prolific number of coins covering so many subjects necessitated the need to either set a realistic budget or streamline subjects of interest. Several new monetary authorities, such as the Cook Islands, Palau, and Niue — all small islands in the South Pacific with very small populations began releasing a staggering number of coins for client countries and private mints. The selling point for many of these coins was the fact the Queen’s effigy graced the obverse side, and her image was still important enough to lend legitimacy to almost any subject shown on the reverse side.
There were four primary mints releasing an array of coins covering many anniversaries and national events, quite a few of them being royalty in nature. Particularly in the UK, there was an established pattern of coins that were released in succession since 1993 covering the coronation anniversary (1953), the Queen’s birthday (1926), the Royal wedding anniversary (1947), the birthday of the Prince of Wales (1948) and the cycle was repeated each decade. In 2012, the Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne, and for this occasion, a new portrait commissioned by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley was featured on commemorative obverse crowns and a wide selection of gold and silver coins. Two special events occurred during the early half of the decade, the long-anticipated wedding of Prince William and his fiancé Catherine Middleton in 2011 and, of course, the birth of their first child in 2013.
Continuing on from the Olympics, the UK’s first-ever one-kilogram gold and silver Proof coins were issued for the occasion. During this time, my office was involved in consultation with regard to various numismatic programmes. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to attend several launches for Olympic coins. In particular, I attended the unveiling of these one-kilo gold and silver Olympic coins, where I had the chance to interview both artists behind the designs.
2015 also saw the retirement of the Rank-Broadley effigy and the introduction of the fifth, and ultimately final, numismatic portrait of the Queen. The likeness is the work of Royal Mint artist and engraver Jody Clark, 33 years old at the time, and he was the youngest of the five designers to have created the portraits of the Queen that have appeared on UK circulating coins during her 63-year reign. He was also the first Royal Mint engraver to be chosen to create a definitive royal coinage portrait in over 100 years. The effigy, which was described as highlighting “a sense of the monarch’s warmth, with a hint of a smile, reflecting the modern queen we see today,” was unveiled at London’s exceptional Portrait Gallery. I had the opportunity to interview Jody Clark on the day and take home a new £2 circulation-type coin, which also included the new Britannia reverse design.
2012 Canada Diamond Jubilee $20 Coin
Struck to Proof quality with a high-relief technique, the result is very eye-catching and impressive. The Queen is depicted wearing the distinctive Grand Duchess Vladimir tiara, an item of jewellery purchased by Queen Mary in 1921. This design is the only time I can recall a coin where the Queen I shown facing to the left rather than right, and this is why the design caught my eye, as it was quite a variation in terms of portraits. Slightly smaller in diameter than a traditional crown, the one-ounce silver coin benefitted from the depth, and the result was a beautiful strike with enough detail to see the facets on many of the diamonds. I also added the standard commemorative silver Canadian dollar that year, which was also quite a clever design as the mint recreated a well-known photograph of the Queen on her way to her coronation seen through the glass of the Imperial state coach.
2013 UK £5 Pistrucci’s St. George Slaying the Dragon
With 60 years of Elizabethan coinage from several authorities and mints, it was inconceivable that this amazing design had not been used on the reverse side of a British silver crown until the year of the birth of Prince George. There was an announcement from the Royal Mint that a commemorative coin would be released in honour of the royal birth, the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The silver £5 crown depicted Pistrucci’s iconic reverse design, and I remember wanting to make sure I was one of the first to log onto the Royal Mint’s website to purchase the coin — for me, it was a must-have. The correlation to St. George was revealed days later after the entire mintage of 7,500 coins had sold out on the day, and the name of the Prince was unveiled. He was to be known as George Alexander Louis, ostensibly named after Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI.
A week later, I wrote a short article for Coin Update about the coin and a little background information on the design. Quite a few readers commented about their disappointment they couldn’t purchase this important addition in time to add to their crown collection. The coin’s value has both increased and decreased since its release, but recently, I managed to purchase a second example for its original purchase price, and that one is on my desk, just to look at and enjoy!
2019 Australia “Batavia” $1 Triangular Coin
A short series entitled “Australian Shipwrecks” issued in gold and silver. It wasn’t a particular subject I had any great interest in, but the design concept and shape drew me to them. This was also the first coin I added which included the new Commonwealth effigy of the Queen unveiled a year after Clark’s own fifth effigy, which the Royal Mint decided to retain exclusive use of for only British coins. The clever design made use of the shape and depicted these sunken ships as perhaps just capsized or upside down rather than on the ocean floor. Unfortunately, there were only three editions to this series which was also struck in gold, the last two released in 2020.
Variation of Effigies — 2013 British Antarctic Territory £2 Coin
A head and shoulders variation of Ian Rank-Broadly’s most familiar effigy of the Queen was used on coins produced by the Pobjoy Mint. It appeared on coins issued by the British Virgin Islands, the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and, from 2008, coins of the British Antarctic Territory and the British Indian Ocean Territory. Both territories are inhabited only by scientific research staff, armed forces bases, and support stations operated and maintained by the British government. The two territories were authorised by the British Treasury to release collector coins based on the British pound. The £2 crown coin was released in 2013 in honour of the naming of Queen Elizabeth Land in the British Antarctic Territory by the British Foreign Secretary. The ceremony took place during Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in December 2012. The design combined two elements I like, maps and portrait variations, so it went on my want list, and not long after, I found a silver Proof example.
Next week, a wrap-up with the 2020s and thoughts on the Elizabethan numismatic era.