Gibraltar changing Portraits On The Obverse

Queen Victoria

Although Queen Victoria had three generally-used portraits on coins during her 64 years on the throne, 1837-1901, known as the "Young Head" (1837), the "Jubilee Head" (1887) and the "Old Head with the veil" (1893). Gibraltar only used the "Young Head" on its Coins.

The Victoria Portrait – 1840 to 1861 Obverse Design - "Young Head" Portrait William Wyon 1792-1817

William Wyon was born at Birmingham, Warwickshire into a family of engravers and medallists. He was apprenticed to his father, the chief engraver of the king's seals, and studied in the schools of the Royal Academy, London, where he gained silver medals in both the antique and the life class. He also obtained a gold medal from the Society of Arts. He was appointed probationary engraver to the mint in 1811, and soon after engraved his medal commemorative of the peace, and his Manchester Pitt medal. In 1815 he was appointed chief engraver to the mint.

Wyon is listed as the engraver of at least 43 different coins struck for circulation in England. He also prepared scores of coin dies for the British Territories, including the West Indies, British India, Ceylon, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Ionian Islands, Ireland, Jersey, Malta, Mauritius, New Brunswick, Penang, Straits Settlements and New Granada.

The accurate, clear portraits, the quality of design and the technically perfect engraving of Wyon's work make him the definitive medallist of the 19th-century England. His portraits of Queen Victoria were used on all British coinage until 1887 and for all postage stamps until 1902.

Queen Elizabeth II

It is common practice for long-reigning monarchs, to update the portrait used on coins. With each change, the queen's portrait has been aged to achieve a more realistic and current reproduction of her more mature appearance.

  • The first portrait was used from 1953 to 1970 on all pre-decimal coins.(a young woman in her mid-20s)
    The second portrait was used from the decimal coins of 1968 to 1984 inclusive.(etched when she was 42)
    The third portrait was used from 1985 to 1997 inclusive.(shows the Queen aged 58)
    The fourth portrait was used from 1988 to 2003 inclusive.(etchings of age to reflect her 71 years)
    The fifth portrait is currently used from 2004 to date.

First Portrait – 1953 to 1970 Obverse Design - First Portrait Mary Gillick (Not used in any Gibraltar Coin)

Mary Gillick was born in Nottingham in 1881 and was educated at the Nottingham High School for Girls from 1890 to 1898. She studied at the Nottingham School of Art until 1902 and was a scholar under Lanteri at the Royal College of Art from 1902 to 1904. She produced a number of medals presented on occasion by learned societies and other institutions, notably the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Academy Schools.

In 1952 she produced her first coin portrait when she designed the uncrowned head of the new Queen for the coinage of the United Kingdom. She was one of seventeen artists who submitted relief sketches in plaster for the first coin effigy of the new reign, and won the competition with an uncrowned, almost informal, portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth. She chose to avoid the couped effigy of previous monarchs and by placing the portrait within a continuous inscription she recalled coins of the first Queen Elizabeth. This charming design appears on all of Britain's pre-decimal coins of Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1967, or 1970 if we include the "Last £.s.d." proof set of that year, and is still used on the small silver coins of the Royal Maundy.

Second Portrait – 1968 to 1984 Obverse Design - Second Portrait Arnold Machin

Arnold Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911. He studied sculpture at Stoke-on-Trent Art College and then at Derby where he gained a Royal Exhibition to the Royal College of Art. While at the College he won a travelling scholarship, the College Medal and a continuation scholarship. Arnold Machin was elected an A.R.A. in 1947 and and R.A. in 1956. He has held posts of tutor at the Royal College of Art, Assessor to the Scottish College of Art, and Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools.

His portrait of the Queen adopted for the United Kingdom coinage in 1968, was for him a first in coin design. Previously his commercial work had been largely associated with the designs for porcelain, examples of which have been purchased by the Tate Gallery.

In anticipation of the planned new decimal coinage, Arnold Machin was commissioned to prepare a new coin portrait of the Queen. It was the first time he had worked on a numismatic design and he was granted four sittings at Buckingham Palace and Balmoral. The new design was approved in June 1964 but was not used for United Kingdom coinage until 1968, after which his "Decimal Portrait" of Elizabeth II was used on all British decimal coins from 1968 through to 1984.

Third Portrait – 1985 to 1997 Fifth Portrait – 2004 to date Obverse Design - Third Portrait & Fifth Portrait Raphael Maklouf

Raphael Maklouf was born in Jerusalem on 10 December 1937 and came to the United Kingdom after the Second World War. He began sculpting at the age of thirteen, during a stay in hospital, and at sixteen became a student at the Camberwell School of Art, where he remained until 1958. For the next ten years he lectured in sculpture at a number of schools of art, including Camberwell, and in 1979 was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. In 1977 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. His work has been exhibited widely both at home and abroad, including the Royal Academy in London.

For Raphael Maklouf too, his effigy of Her Majesty the Queen approved for the United Kingdom coinage from 1985 was his first coin design.

On 8 August 1984 Her Majesty approved two new designs for use on United Kingdom coinage from 1 January 1985, one for circulating coins and one for large commemorative issues. Selected form thirty-eight models submitted by seventeen artists, both are the work of sculptor Raphael Maklouf. He set out with the intention of producing "a symbol ... regal and ageless" and following his selection was granted two sittings by the Queen.

Fourth Portrait - 1998 to 2003 New Obverse Design - Fourth Portrait Ian Rank-Broadley

In 1998 a new obverse design was introduced on British coins. It features a new portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS, FSNAD, whose initials IRB appear under the head. He has expressed the hope that he has created the right balance between the traditions of the past while still capturing the spirit of the future, in the creation of this new portrait. It was selected from nineteen entries in a specialist competition organised by the Royal Mint. This new "head" was the fourth major portrait type of The Queen used on British coins, since 1953, the first date of issue of Elizabeth II coins.

Ian Rank Broadley was born in 1952 and studied sculpture at Epsom School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. He is now a noted sculptor and medallist, who lives and works in Wiltshire, in the United Kingdom. He is a fellow of both the RSBS, the Royal Society of British Sculptors, and SNAD, the Society of Numismatic Artists and Designers.

His work is displayed in the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. He also designed the portrait of Thomas Carlyle used on the London Library anniversary medal. In addition to the new, fourth portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he designed the portrait of H.M. the Queen Mother on the Centenary £5 crown coin.

His non-numismatic work revolves around studies of the nude, ranging from a quickly modelled bronze sketch of a sportsman in action to heroic, over-life size figures, such as Ganymede or The Wrestlers. His maquette Portal of Despair won the Secondo Premio Assoluto, in the 1994 Dante Biennale in Ravenna.