Friday, 30 September 2022

Coins of the Realm

 First the cypher, now the coins. A 50p piece and a £5 coin have been minted with the head of our new King in profile, facing left (to alternate, as is traditional, with the right-facing Queen).  The designs are pleasing, the abbreviated royal titles are all present and correct, and Charles was probably right to keep to the English form of his name. As for the face, it seems to me very well done – naturalistic enough, but with a certain regal presence. I see the image was created (from photographs, rather than a sitting) by the sculptor Martin Jennings – his first coin commission. Jennings is the man who made two of the country's finest public portrait sculptures (both of them wearing raincoats)  – John Betjeman at St Pancras and Philip Larkin in Hull. He seems to be just as good working on a much smaller scale. 
Coins with the Queen's head on will of course continue to circulate until they are eventually withdrawn. It will be like the old days, when in my boyhood coins from all previous reigns back to Victoria (except Edward VIII) were in circulation, and it was still possible to get a badly worn Victorian 'bun penny' in your change. Today's coinage is less sturdy stuff, and is not expected to last more than 20 years. 
(PS: The BBC News piece I've linked to contains a very strange use of the word 'effigy'. I'm sure no effigy was made of Charles.)


  1. In portuguese efigie means the figure that Is minted in the coins. But in english How Is the correct Word?

    1. Thanks Ricardo – and I now discover that 'effigy' can be used to mean the portrait image on a coin. You live and learn... The standard meaning is a full-length sculptural likeness, usually reclining on a tomb.