Oct 312011

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II’s forthcoming Diamond Jubilee makes it a fitting time to recall the four Royal effigies to have graced Australian coinage over the past 60 years.  This article first appeared 9 years ago in ‘The Australian Numismatic Post’ (October 2002):

“All four effigies of The Queen to have appeared on Australian coins depict Her Majesty facing right.  According to Britain’s Royal Mint, a convention dating back to the seventeenth century dictates that successive monarchs face in alternative directions on their coinage.

While the switch from the left-facing King George VI to the right-facing Elizabeth II was expected, Mary Gillick’s 1952 effigy of The Queen clearly took a new approach.  Nottingham-born Gillick beat off competition from 16 other artists with her delicate design depicting the head and shoulders of the young, uncrowned monarch.

The Melbourne Mint considered the effigy “very beautiful, but rather difficult to do.”  Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Treasury complained: “Seeing that the effigy of the late King George VI is quite clear cut, we do not understand why the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II should not be equally clear.”

The Gillick effigy (left) and Machin’s ‘decimal’ portrait of Her Majesty.

In its response from London, The Royal Mint underlined the fact that Gillick’s treatment represented a “deliberate departure” from tradition.  Despite the controversy it stirred at the time, the delightful image of the young Queen remains a favourite for many.  It featured on Australian coins until decimalisation in 1966 when the Arnold Machin portrait was introduced (thereby pre-dating its adoption by British coins by two years).

Stoke-born Machin is justly famous for another portrait of The Queen, which featured on British stamps from 1967.  It has been described as the most reproduced portrait of all time – literally, there have been billions.  Earlier, in 1964, he had been chosen to design a new effigy for The Royal Mint – remarkably, his first numismatic project.

For his ‘decimal’ portrait, Machin was granted four sittings at Buckingham Palace and Balmoral.  The work depicts a young but regal Queen, wearing a diamond tiara.  When The Royal Mint unveiled the new coinage, numismatist and author H.W.A. Linecar wrote that it “adhered to the last vestige of tradition”.

The Maklouf design (left) was replaced by Rank-Broadley’s effigy of The Queen in 1998.

The third portrait was by Raphael Maklouf, whose design shows The Queen with the Royal Diadem, which she wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament. Jerusalem-born Maklouf, like Machin, was an accomplished sculptor when he tackled his first coin design.

It has been said that the resulting image, which first appeared on coins in 1985, depicts Her Majesty somewhat younger than her then 58 years.  But it was Maklouf’s avowed intention to produce a “regal and ageless” symbol.

The fourth effigy, by Ian Rank-Broadley, first appeared on Australian coins in 1998.  The design, selected from 19 entries submitted by 10 artists, again features The Queen wearing the tiara given to her as a wedding present by her grandparents.  But the British designer noted, that as well as being Head of State, she was also a real person.

“There is no need to flatter her.  She’s a 70-year old woman with poise and bearing,” he told the Times newspaper.  “One doesn’t need to see a rather distant mask.”

Rank-Broadley’s “strong and realistic” portrait would probably have pleased numismatic conservatives of the earlier era.  In many ways, it completes the gradual return to traditional design following Gillick’s bold experiment fifty years ago.”

Oct 272011

If you’re a Twitter user now is a good time to start following @perthmint.

We’re giving away five miniature Kangaroo gold coins every day until 15 November 2011 in celebration of the launch of our amazing new one tonne gold coin.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply follow @perthmint and Re-tweet (RT) messages containing #1TonneGoldCoin to gain entry into the daily draw.

Picked at random, five daily winners will be notified by direct message of their good fortune!

With 100 miniature gold coins up for grabs, this is a golden opportunity to start following the Mint on Twitter. Our service will soon be expanding to cover all our latest news, videos and regular coin releases.

If you don’t yet have a Twitter account, it’s quick and simple to join here.

Oct 272011

After many months in the making, our one tonne Australian Kangaroo gold bullion coin has been unveiled in spectacular fashion.

Made from 99.99% pure gold and issued as Australian legal tender, it’s a stunning achievement by the Mint.

Perth Mint CEO Ed Harbuz with our spectacular Australian Kangaroo one tonne gold coin - the largest coin in the world.

We tracked the manufacturing process with our handy-cam to be able to compile these clips from behind the scenes at The Perth Mint. Check out the mammoth gold pour and the intricacies of the hand-finishing involved!

Oct 122011

Just recently Britain’s Telegraph website published a list of the world’s ten most expensive coins.

At the head of the list is a silver Flowing Hair dollar – the first dollar coin issued by the United States federal government. In May 2005, a specimen striking from the 1794 production was sold in a private sale for US$7.85 million.

At number two is the world’s most expensive gold coin – a 1933 Double Eagle. One of the last gold coins minted by the U.S. government, a rare example fetched US$7.59 million at auction in 2002.


The world’s top ten most expensive coins in pictures – courtesy of Britain’s Telegraph.



The strength of the rare coin market is being reflected in Australia. Rare coin dealer Coinworks said in March that it established a new record price for any Australian coin with the sale of the ‘Hagley’ proof 1930 penny. “The final price will not be disclosed, but with a current market valuation of $1.65 million, you can be sure it has gone for a princely sum,” it said.

Details of an extremely rare proof 1930 penny and many other Australian numismatic treasures can be seen on Museum Victoria’s website.

Proof Coin – 1 Penny, Australia, 1930 – Museum Victoria.