Australia honours Queen with 50 cent coin


08 December 2023
The Royal Australian Mint has commemorated Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with a 50-cent coin, which is available in both fine silver proof and uncirculated finishes. The coin celebrates the Queen’s seven decades of service, as well as the indelible mark she left on Australian coinage.

Created in-house by the mint’s design team, the coin features all seven portraits of the late Queen that appeared on Australian coins.

The first six effigies, fanned above the Queen’s royal cypher, feature in a central design on the coin’s reverse. This central image is framed with lily of the valley, one of the Queen’s favourite flowers, and golden wattle, Australia’s national floral emblem. The seventh portrait on the coin is the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Obverse by Jody Clark.

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The coin provides a lesson in Australian numismatic history by highlighting the work of several artists. The first to feature is Mary Gillick, who designed the first portrait of Her Majesty, which appeared on pre-decimal coinage from 1953 to 1965.

On Australian decimal coinage, the first portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was designed by Arnold Machin OBE RA in 1964 for The Royal Mint in the UK. It was released in Australia on 14 February 1966, which preceded its first use on British coins in 1968.

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In 1982, The Royal Mint conducted a competition for the design of a new effigy. Raphael Maklouf’s model was chosen as the most promising, which was then revised and accepted by The Queen for use on circulating coinage in the UK. This Maklouf effigy was then adopted for use on Australian coinage.

In 1996, a portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley was chosen and appeared on UK coinage from 1998. Following earlier conventions, Australia adopted this effigy on some collector coins in 1998 and generally from 1999.

To commemorate the royal visit in 2000, a portrait by Vladimir Gottwald was approved for a once-only use. Gottwald, a member of the Royal Australian Mint’s design and engraving section, became the first Australian designer to have his work on the obverse of an Australian coin since Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal KCVO RA, who sculpted the 1910–1936 effigy of King George V.

The most recent effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, designed by British engraver Jody Clark, is the sixth coin portrait to have been created during the Queen’s reign. It appeared on Australian coins from 1999 until the Queen’s death on 8 September 2022.

Following the passing of Her Majesty, the Royal Australian Mint transitioned to the Queen Elizabeth II Memorial Obverse. Featuring Jody Clark’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, the Memorial Obverse has one notable addition – the Queen’s years of reign, reading ‘ELIZABETH II 1952–2022’. This portrait appears on the obverse of the coin.

This special edition coin went on sale on 23 November and is available as a 50-cent uncirculated coin, with a mintage of 25,000, or a 50-cent fine silver proof coin, with a mintage of 7,500.