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|Fourth Portrait - 1998 Onwards|
New Obverse Design - Fourth Portrait
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" is 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.
It is perhaps fortunate that his nude study work was not selected to be used on our current coinage, although it would have created considerable interest and comment. Actually there is no clothing visible on either the Queen's or Queen Mother's coin portraits, so we may never know!
Some time ago we saw a rather idiotic suggestion on the "forum" page of the Royal Mint's web site that the initials IRB stood for the Irish Republican Brigade, an organisation related to the IRA. It is of course the designers initials, as we have stated above.
A reply had been posted to this effect which unfortunately suggested that it was uncommon for designers or engravers initials to appear on British coins. This is far from accurate. All the first portrait Elizabeth II coins bear the initials M.G. for Mary Gillick, the designer of the bust used on those issues. Most of this series also have the reverse designers' initials on the reverse of the coins.
Looking at the second portrait, second decimal issue, the designers' initials are not present, neither are they present on the reverse.
It is common practice for long-reigning monarchs, to update the portrait used on coins.
The first portrait was used from 1953 to 1970 on all pre-decimal coins.
The second portrait was used from the decimal coins of 1968 to 1984 inclusive.
The third portrait was used from 1985 to 1997 inclusive.
With each change, the queen's portrait has been aged to achieve a more realistic and current reproduction of her more mature appearance.
1998 Coins Index
1999 Coins Index
2000 Coins Index
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