On Wednesday 9 September 2015, The Royal Mint will celebrate with the nation the moment when Her Majesty The Queen becomes the longest reigning monarch in British history. The anniversary surpasses the record set by her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria more than a century ago.
To celebrate the remarkable journey Her Majesty The Queen has encountered from her coronation to the position she holds today as respected stateswoman across the world, The Royal Mint has created a range of commemorative coins to mark this ‘once in a lifetime’ occasion.
Shane Bissett, The Royal Mint’s Director of Commemorative Coin and Medals said:
“This historic event is not only a memorable one for the nation, but a significant one for The Royal Mint, maker of coins to the kings and queens of Britain for over 1,000 years. Never before have all coins in circulation carried the portrait of the same monarch, and for many, The Queen will be the only British monarch we have known.
“Except for unofficial souvenirs struck for Queen Victoria around the time she became the longest reigning monarch in 1897, there has never been an official coin produced to mark a monarch becoming the longest reigning king or queen in this country, which makes The Royal Mint’s Longest Reigning Monarch Collection even more distinctive.”
The £5 Coin Collection
Sculptor James Butler MBE RA, designer of The Queen’s Great Seal of the Realm, has been commissioned to create a new obverse effigy of The Queen to mark the moment she becomes Britain’s Longest Reigning Monarch.
As a special feature for the £5 Coin collection, James Butler has also been commissioned to create a distinctive reverse design. He describes his Coronation Crown design as “a strong symbol of royalty, and of The Queen’s reign.”
Each coin comes with a certificate of authenticity and a booklet that details the highlights of The Queen’s reign, from the televised coronation, to her first post on Twitter. The coins retail from £13 for the Brilliant Uncirculated £5 Coin.
The £5 Coin Collection Includes:
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £5 Platinum Proof Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £5 Gold Proof Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £5 Silver Proof Piedfort Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £5 Silver Proof Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK £5 Brilliant Uncirculated Coin
The Kilo and the Five-Ounce Coin Collection
The James Butler MBA RA effigy specially commissioned by The Royal Mint for this occasion is featured on the obverse of the coins in this collection, whilst Royal Mint Senior Graphic Designer Stephen Taylor has created the the reverse image. For his coin-design debut, Stephen has combined each of the five definitive portraits of The Queen’s reign in a semi-circle to tell the story of a monarch maturing on the coins of the nation. The coins retail from £395 for the Five-Ounce Silver Proof Coin.
The Kilo and Five-Ounce Coin Collection Includes:
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK Gold Proof Kilo Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK Silver Proof Kilo Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK Five-Ounce Gold Proof Coin
- The Longest Reigning Monarch 2015 UK Five-Ounce Silver Proof Coin
The £20 for £20 Fine Silver Face Value Coin
Stephen Taylor’s Longest Reigning Monarch design has also been selected to feature on the reverse of the £20 Fine Silver face value coin, whilst the fifth effigy portrait of The Queen by Jody Clark can be seen on the obverse – the work of a Royal Mint Senior Designer and a Royal Mint Engraver featured together.
Stephen Taylor – reverse designer – £20 silver coin, Five-Ounce coin and Kilo coin
Stephen Taylor is a member of The Royal Mint’s creative design team, and this is his first design to appear on a United Kingdom coin.
“I was first inspired during a trip to London with my family. The place has so many royal elements – the palace, heraldry and monuments. I was there with my children and it made me think about The Queen, a woman who has grown up in the limelight and had children and grandchildren in the public eye; it must have been taxing at times.
“For my design, I wanted to convey how Queen Elizabeth II has matured on the face of a coin, just like Queen Victoria did. Combining the five portraits was a challenge, as they are all quite different in their composition: how they’re couped, their size, the crown worn and so on. The font I used for the inscription is a flared serif often used on early coinage. Mary Gillick used something similar on her portrait of Her Majesty.
“Working for The Royal Mint you develop a love for coins and for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating a coin. It’s moving to think that the coin will be there forever, my mark in history. It’s a nice thing to have in your life. My children are really excited and proud that I’ve designed a coin for the United Kingdom.”
Jody Clark – obverse portrait designer – £20 silver coin
Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark studied Illustration at the University of Central Lancashire before building a wealth of experience in computer-aided design in the packaging industry, among other freelance illustration and design projects.
Since embarking on his career at The Royal Mint, Jody has worked on notable projects, such as the medals struck to celebrate the 2014 Ryder Cup and NATO Summit. His contemporary interpretation of the iconic Britannia featured on the 2014 edition of the Britannia coin.
With his ‘fifth portrait’ effigy of Her Majesty The Queen, Jody has successfully captured The Queen in a realistic yet gentle portrait that shares both modern and traditional elements, recognising the effigies that have gone before. Jody was honoured that his portrait was selected:
“I liked all four of the previous portraits, each one strong in its own way. I hope that I’ve done The Queen justice and captured her as I intended, in a fitting representation.
“The news that my design had been chosen was quite overwhelming and I still can’t quite believe that my portrait will feature on billions of coins. They’ll be everywhere and are likely to be around forever.”
James Butler – Obverse of the £5, Five-Ounce and Kilo coins
Born in London in 1931, James Butler MBE RA is a widely respected sculptor with a prolific portfolio. While renowned for his towering bronze sculptures, the artist has also earned a notable reputation in the numismatic world. One such work was the Great Seal of the Realm adopted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2001, who granted a sitting with James to perfect his design. Undeniably worthy of the official and regal insignia, the design is respected worldwide as a numismatic work of art. The seal’s reverse, featuring a powerful interpretation of the Royal Arms device, later adorned the reverse of the coins in The Queen’s Portrait Set, released in 2013. This sitting was to help the artist when he created this commemorative coinage portrait:
“I have been privileged to meet The Queen on a few occasions, through various works I have created, including the Royal Seal of the Realm and more recently, a statue of Her Majesty as a young woman. You have an idea of how a person looks in your mind, but it was important to have actual images to work from, so The Royal Mint provided official photographs of The Queen’s profile. I wanted to show a likeness of her, an affectionate image, as this was a celebration rather than a circulating coinage portrait. Creating a portrait in the low relief of a coin is a real challenge, one that I was assisted in by The Royal Mint’s Chief Engraver, Gordon Summers.”
James Butler – Reverse of the £5 Coin
“I submitted several designs for this commemorative reverse; I had so many ideas, as there are so many stories to tell around The Queen’s reign, but it was the crown design that was selected. It is such a strong symbol of royalty, and of The Queen’s reign. I also experimented with symbols of celebration too, adding touches like ribbons and streamers, but this seemed the best composition – simple and strong. The crown in the design is the Coronation Crown worn by The Queen back in 1953. It is framed by the two important dates: 1952, the year Princess Elizabeth became queen, and 2015, the year she became the UK’s longest reigning monarch.”