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Coin Designers and Engravers

After over a thousand years and many changes in production techniques, the monarch continues to be depicted on the obverse of modern coinage. Certain traditions are observed in this representation. From the time of Charles II onwards a tradition developed of successive monarchs being represented on the coinage facing in the opposite direction to their immediate predecessor. There was an exception to this in the brief reign of Edward VIII, who liked portraits of himself facing to the left, even though he should have faced to the right according to tradition. The designs for proposed coins in the Mint collection show Edward VIII facing to the left. The tradition has been restored since the reign of George VI.

The following are very brief biographies of some of the engravers and artists who have designed Commonwealth coinage over the last few hundred years.



W.W. William Wyon
B.P Benedetto Pistrucci
DeS George William de Saulles
HP Thomas Humphrey Paget
J.E.B. Sir Joseph Edward Boehm
K G George Kruger Gray
T.B. Sir Thomas Brock
BM Sir Edgar Bertram MacKennal
MG Mary Gillick
AM Arnold Machin
RBM Raphael Maklouf
S.D Stuart Devlin
I.R.B Ian Rank-Broadley
WP Wojciech Pietranik
TN Timothy Noad

William Wyon

If the many thousands of coin collectors in the United Kingdom were asked to nominate the three finest engravers ever to produce designs for the home coinage it is likely that William Wyon would find a place on everyone's list. In his prolific output between 1816 and 1851 there is much to admire: the Three Graces pattern crown of 1817, the seated Britannia of the 1820s, the Lion sixpence and shillings of George IV, and a regal Una and the Lion on the famous fivepound piece of 1839. These are, all of them, designs of charm and distinction, but they do not by themselves explain why Wyon's contemporaries, who elected him to the Royal Academy, held him in high regard nor why modern numismatists cherish his memory with such affection. His enduring reputation rests rather on his coin and medal portraits of Queen Victoria.
They begin early, for the Queen first sat for him as a young Princess of thirteen and he produced a medallic portrait for her eighteenth birthday. This was followed by a portrait in lower relief for the new Queen's coins, which began to find their way into circulation in the summer of 1838, and by a diademed portrait for a medal commemorating the Queen's visit to the City of London in November 1837, a portrait better remembered now as that used for the Penny Black stamps of 1840. In 1847 came a crowned bust in fashionable Gothic style, adopted for the proof crowns of that year and, later, for the controversial florins of 1849.
About the same time another diademed portrait was prepared for campaign and general service medals, and finally, shortly before his death, he completed conjoint portraits of the Queen and the Prince Consort for Great Exhibition medals of 1851. Of these portraits, that approved for the coinage in 1838 undoubtedly takes pride of place. Wyon was clearly inspired by his admiration of the neo-classical style of his mentor Flaxman to create an uncluttered and well balanced portrait. Now familiarly known as the Young Head, its beautiful features flattered the Queen, who was a grandmother in her late sixties before she allowed it to disappear from the coinage. "You always represent me favourably", she is reported to have told Wyon, while he, for his part, is said to have found the Queen an excellent sitter. His skill in portraiture was not of course restricted to representations of Queen Victoria. He it was who engraved coinage portraits of George IV and William IV, though these were not entirely his own work since they were based on busts by the sculptor Chantrey.
Image Courtesy Spink UK
Many medallic Portraits, both private and official, also testify to his genius and his head of Queen Adelaide for the Coronation Medial of 1811 was additionally remarkable for the unaccustomed speed with which it was finished So established was his reputation that he was commissioned to prepare a portrait of Queen Maria II for the coinage of Portugal, not the easiest of tasks if the Queen really was as plain as William IV ungallantly insisted. It seems scarcely credible, given the precocity of his talent, that there should ever have been doubts about his ability and that a Master of the Mint, no less, should have advised him not to waste his time attempting to do heads. Perhaps these doubts were created by a modesty of manner so unlike the egotistical assertiveness of his great rival Benedetto Pisirucci but, whatever their cause, they were quickly dispelled by an output of coins and medals that remains truly remarkable.


Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm

J E Boehm's Wax of the Jubilee Portrait of Queen Victoria
Image Courtesy Spink UK
Born in Vienna, of Hungarian descent, the son of the director of the Vienna mint, in 1834. Came to London 1848 and studied for 3 years, mainly in British Museum; then studied in Italy, Paris, and Vienna. In 1856 Boehm was presented with the Austrian Imperial Prize for Sculpture, the start of his distinguished career. He came to live in England in 1862, and was granted citizenship in 1865. He became a member of the ARA in 1878, and was elected to the Royal Academy in 1882. A speciality of his was the portrait bust many examples of which are in the National Portrait Gallery. He received constant flow of commissions for public monuments, portrait statues and busts; he also became Sculptor in Ordinary to Queen Victoria. Besides public commissions, he also executed imaginative works. He later became lecturer on sculpture at the Royal Academy and member of several foreign academies .
During his career he was commissioned frequently by the Royal Family and members of the aristocracy to sculpt for their parks and gardens. His most important works include 'St George and the Dragon', which can be found outside the State Library of Victoria.
Other works include: Wellington Memorial, Hyde Park Corner; Lord Beaconsfield and Dean Stanley in Westminster Abbey; Carlyle on Chelsea Embankment; recumbent figure of Archlzishop Tait, Canterbury Cathedral. Executed stone figure of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales on Temple Bar Memorial, Fleet St., 1880, for which C. B. Birch modelled the "Griffin". Executed portrait head of Queen Victoria for 1887 coinage.

J E Boehm's statue of St George slaying the Dragon in Melbourne , Australia.

Boehm with Princess Louise; about 1885.
His most famous pupil was the Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll daughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Louise was at his house, 76 Fulham Road, London, when Boehm died suddenly on 12 December 1890, provoking press speculation about an unsubstantiated sexual relationship between the two.

Sir Thomas Brock

Sir Thomas Brock, 1847-1922, Photographed by R W Robertson c.1887
The sculptor Thomas Brock was born in Worcester, and studied at the Royal Academy Schools from 1867. He had previously worked in the studio of the sculptor J. H. Foley, and when that artist died, Brock completed many of his unfinished commissions. This gave him a smooth route into respectability. He became ARA in 1883 and RA in 1891and was knighted in 1911. His bust of Longfellow (Westminster Abbey); his colossal Victoria Memorial, in front of Buckingham Palace; and his equestrian statue, Black Prince (Leeds), are notable examples of his work.


Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal

Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal (1863 - 1931) was born in Melbourne, Australia. His father was an architectural sculptor and it was under him that Mackennal first studied. He later studied at the Melbourne School of Art and went to England to study the antique at the British Museum in 1883. The following year he entered the Royal Academy Schools, but the teaching did not prove agreeable to him, and he soon left, to go to Paris. There, still aged only 19, he set up his own studio, while continuing his studies with visits to the workshops of a variety of eminent sculptors.
Back in England Mackennal became head of the art department of the Coalport Potteries in Shropshire. However, in 1887 he won a competition to provide relief carvings for the Victoria State houses of Parliament, and he spent two years back in Australia working on this commission. After rather mixed success, he achieved fame with his statue Circe in 1893. By this time he was back in London, and it was there that he settled, becoming one of the more important sculptors of his time.
Sir Edgar Bertram Mackennal was not only the first Australian artist to be knighted - he was created MVO (Member of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1912 and KCVO (Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order) in 1921 - but he was the first and only Australian sculptor ever to be made a full member of the Royal Academy, being elected ARA in 1909 and RA in 1922.
Among Mackennal's many commissions in England are a number of war memorials, including the Islington commemoration of the South African War (1903) and the First World War memorials at Eton College, and in the Houses of Parliament, Westminster (which is dedicated to British MPs who had died in that war). Also, he designed a plaque in Amiens Cathedral in memory of the Australian dead in the Great War. His only war memorial in Australia is The Cenotaph, in Martin Place, Sydney. However, while in Australia on his 1926-27 visit, he was commissioned to complete the Desert Mounted Corps memorial for Port Said, which was left unfinished by the untimely death of Web Gilbert in 1925. Apparently Mackennal worked on this memorial while in Sydney , but he completed the plaster, in London, only a few days before he himself died. The bronze cast was made posthumously.


Mary Gillick

Mary Gillick was born in Nottingham in 1881 and was educated at the Nottingham High School for Girls from 1890 to 1898. She studied at the Nottingham School of Art until 1902 and was a scholar under Lanteri at the Royal College of Art from 1902 to 1904. It was in Nottingham that she met her future husband, Ernest Gillick, whose high standards and searching criticism did much to influence her and formed the basis of an ideal working partnership which lasted some forty-six years, She produced a number of medals presented on occasion by learned societies and other institutions, notably the Royal Society, the Institute of Physics, and the Royal Academy Schools.
In 1952 she produced her first coin portrait when she designed the uncrowned head of the new Queen for the coinage of the United Kingdom. She was one of seventeen artists who submitted relief sketches in plaster for the first coin effigy of the new reign, and won the the competition with an uncrowned, almost informal, portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth. She chose to avoid the couped effigy of previous monarchs and by placing the portrait within a continuous inscription she recalled coins of the first Queen Elizabeth. This charming design appears on all of Australia's & Britain's pre-decimal coins of Elizabeth II from 1953 to 1967.


Arnold Machin

Arnold Machin was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1911. He studied sculpture at Stoke-on-Trent Art College and then at Derby where he gained a Royal Exhibition to the Royal College of Art. While at the College he won a travelling scholarship, the College Medal and a continuation scholarship. Arnold Machin was elected an A.R.A. in 1947 and and R.A. in 1956. He has held posts of tutor at the Royal College of Art, Assessor to the Scottish College of Art, and Master of Sculpture at the Royal Academy Schools.
His portrait of the Queen adopted for the United Kingdom coinage in 1968, was for him a first in coin design. Previously his commercial work had been largely associated with the designs for porcelain, examples of which have been purchased by the Tate Gallery.
In anticipation of the planned new decimal coinage, Arnold Machin was commissioned to prepare a new coin portrait of the Queen. It was the first time he had worked on a numismatic design and he was granted four sittings at Buckingham Palace and Balmoral. The new design was approved in June 1964 but was not used for United Kingdom coinage until 1968, after which his "Decimal Portrait" of Elizabeth II was used on all Australian & British decimal coins from 1968 through to 1984.


Raphael Maklouf

Raphael Maklouf was born in Jerusalem on 10 December 1937 and came to the United Kingdom after the Second World War. He began sculpting at the age of thirteen, during a stay in hospital, and at sixteen became a student at the Camberwell School of Art, where he remained until 1958. For the next ten years he lectured in sculpture at a number of schools of art, including Camberwell, and in 1979 was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. In 1977 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. His work has been exhibited widely both at home and abroad, including the Royal Academy in London.
For Raphael Maklouf too, his effigy of Her Majesty the Queen approved for the United Kingdom coinage from 1985 was his first coin design.
On 8 August 1984 Her Majesty approved two new designs for use on United Kingdom coinage from 1 January 1985, one for circulating coins and one for large commemorative issues. Selected form thirty-eight models submitted by seventeen artists, both are the work of sculptor Raphael Maklouf. He set out with the intention of producing "a symbol ... regal and ageless" and following his selection was granted two sittings by the Queen.
His "Third Portrait" of Elizabeth II was used from 1985 to 1997 inclusive.


Stuart Devlin

Stuart Devlin was born in Geelong, Australia, in 1931. In his third year of secondary education, he chose to become an art teacher, specializing in gold and silversmithing. In 1957 he obtained a post at a Melbourne college and studied for a Diploma of Art in gold and silversmithing. On the strength of this achievement, he was awarded scholarships to study at the Royal College of Art in London. He excelled and, as a result, was awarded a Fellowship by the Harkness Foundation of New York. He chose to spend the two-year fellowship at Columbia University in the U.S.
On the completion of his overseas study in 1962, he returned to teach in Melbourne, Australia, and subsequently became an inspector of art schools. In 1964, he won a competition to design the first decimal coinage for Australia. In 1965, he moved to London and opened a small workshop. This marked the beginning of Devlin's true style.
He concluded that the role for a contemporary silversmith is to enrich the way people live and work. He felt the nature of his craft and the romance of precious metals gave him an opportunity to design pieces that added delight, surprise, intrigue, and even amusement to what had become austere and even sterile within the modern idiom of design.
Increasingly he turned out rich and romantic pieces that retained simple forms. Developing these pieces required technical innovation because the traditional methods of enrichment were either not available any more or were too time-consuming and therefore prohibitively expensive. He adapted and devised techniques to enable him to produce a wide variety of textures and filigree forms.
In 1967, he began designing jewelry and, over the next decade, became well-known in London's West End. In 1982, he was granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment as Goldsmith and Jeweller to Her Majesty the Queen.
Stuart Devlin produces a new collection each year. This has forced him to continually seek new ideas for his next collection, particularly since the many collectors of his work anticipate something exciting and different each year. Among his most popular commissions, Stuart Devlin has designed coins for 36 countries throughout the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, and the Cayman Islands. He has designed hundreds of commemorative medallions. He designs furniture, interiors, jewelry, and commission pieces of all types, including trophies, clocks, centerpieces, candelabra, bowls, and insignia.


Ian Rank-Broadley

In 1952 Ian Rank-Broadley was born at Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, growing up and then studying at the Epsom School of Art, where he studied sculpture under Bruce McLean, moving on to the Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London, with Post-graduate studies under Reg Butler, Michael Kenny & John Davies.
1976-77 Boise Scholarship. Studied in Rome and visited Naples, Florence, Venice & Paris
1977 Assistant to Reg Butler during work on late painted bronzes
1982 Visiting lecturer in Life studies, Heatherley School of Art, London
1990 Elected Fellow of the Society of Numismatic Artists & Designers
1994 Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors (ARBS 1989)
1995 Elected to the Art Workers Guild
1996 Made a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths'
Granted Freedom of the City of London
1973 Major Award in Sculpture from the British Institution Fund,
Royal Academy of Arts, London
1996 Prize for bronze maquette for Dante's Gates of Hell XI Biennale
Dantesca, Ravenna Italy
1997 Winner of Royal Mint competition for the new effigy of HM Queen for
use on the United Kingdom & Commonwealth coinage from 1998
1998 Winner of Royal Mint competition for the Queen Mother Centennial Crown
2000 First Prize Craftsmanship & Design Awards (modelling) Goldsmiths'
Craft Design Council
2001 Winner of Royal Mint competition for effigy of HM Queen for Golden
Jubilee crown & medal
2002 Coin effigy of HM Queen to be used by British Hallmarking Council
for Golden Jubilee Hallmark

Wojciech Pietranik

Wojciech Pietranik was born in 1950 in the city of Gdansk, Poland. He began studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdansk at the age of 20. He graduated in 1975 with an honours diploma.
Wojciech moved to Australia in 1985 where he undertook a variety of jobs as well as teaching sculpture. During 1989, he took the position of Designer and Engraver at the Royal Australian Mint. In 1992, his talent was recognised by a Churchill Fellowship Award which enabled him to study at the School of Medallic Art in Rome.
Wojciech has designed many Royal Australian Mint products including 1999 $1 The Last Anzacs Fine Silver and mintmarks coins, 1999 $1 Silver Kangaroo Coin, 1998 Royal Flying Doctor Service coins and many medals.
In 1998 Wojciech was invited by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games to submit a design for the Victory Medals. Up against 19 other artists and designers, Wojciech Pietranik entered a design that combined modern and traditional elements. Announced as the winning designer on 4 October 1999 by the IOC in Athens, his design incorporates the wattle trees of Australia, the Sydney Opera House and a reflection of the waters that surround it.