Historic 2015 final year issue

06/01/2015 09:20  |  Sovereigns

The Royal Mint has announced that its 2015 Sovereign will feature Ian Rank-Broadley's portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for the very last time. This iconic likeness first appeared on Britain's flagship gold coin in 1998 and is one of only four portraits to appear on the coin's obverse since the Queen ascended the throne on 6th February 1952.

The first of the four effigies to appear on the earliest Sovereigns of the Queen's reign was designed by Mary Gillick and featured a young, newly-crowned Elizabeth II wearing a laurel wreath. In 1974, shortly after decimalisation was introduced, the design was updated for the first time by Arnold Machin and depicted the monarch in a tiara, a wedding gift from her grandmother Queen Mary. This appeared until 1997. Incidentally, a version of Machin's portrait still appears on British postage stamps.

In 1985 Raphael Maklouf's effigy made its first appearance on Britain's famous Gold coin. Maklouf's design portrayed Elizabeth II in the Royal Diadem, a crown traditionally worn by the monarch on her way to and from the annual State Opening of Parliament. Featuring a more mature and realistic likeness of the monarch, Rank-Broadley's portrait has appeared not just on the Sovereign but on all Britain's circulating and commemorative coins since 1998 and is now widely recognised as one of the most famous coin designs in the world.

As design changes are incredibly rare, there is mounting speculation as to what the new portrait, due to be revealed later in 2015, will actually look like. We do however know that The Royal Mint Advisory Committee is running a closed competition whereby a small number of designers are asked to submit their designs anonymously.

The winner will be chosen from all selected entries by the RMAC. This year will therefore be truly unique in the five hundred year history of Britain's most famous Gold coin, with experts predicting an unprecedented level of interest in the 2015 issue. Not only will the earliest coins feature the present portrait of Her Majesty for the very last time, but the later issues will also bear the brand new effigy for the first time ever.

Order your 2015 Sovereign here.

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