Queen Elizabeth II died on September 8, 2022 after a 70-year reign, marking the end of a long era in British and world history. As the sovereign ruler of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, her likeness has been minted on coins since 1953 and bills since 1960. Currently there are approximately 27 billion coins circulating bearing her image. Because of the historical significance of this moment, interest in some of these rarer coins and bills has spiked, and their value has greatly increased.
The Historical Significance of Queen Elizabeth II
We have talked before about how coins preserve human history. They document the human experience both deliberately and inadvertently. Because of this they can make especially good gifts as mementos or souvenirs of life.
In the case of Queen Elizabeth, because she reigned so long, she had many official portraits done at different periods of her life that were featured on currency. The majority of people in the world have not lived when she was not queen, so that means these coins commemorate the era, not just the woman, and the interest in these relics will not be limited only to coin collectors. Millions of people all over the world loved and will mourn Queen Elizabeth’s passing.
She has appeared on a record 33 world currencies, according to The Guinness Book of World Records, so both numismatists and Queen Elizabeth fans may have a real challenge if they want to hunt down every variety for their collections. They will also have to pay top dollar (or pound) for certain pieces such as the 1935 Canadian $20 bill featuring an 8-year-old Princess Elizabeth, which is already an extremely collectible currency note.
People naturally have questions about whether the currency will change and how long the old coins and bills will remain in circulation. Canada’s mint has stated that it will continue to strike coins with Elizabeth’s image through 2022, and central banks in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have stated they intend to keep currency featuring the Queen in circulation for years.
It can take a long time for new coins to be designed and minted. Historically coinage featuring the new king or queen have not appeared until approximately a year after coronation. King Charles III has not yet been crowned, however, the Royal Mint has already unveiled the first official coin portrait of Charles. This portrait will be featured on a memorial collection for Queen Elizabeth II.
Collectors of British coins will have much to look forward to in the near future, both with coins of the new king slated to appear and commemorative coins of Queen Elizabeth certain to be released in the coming months and years. If you are interested in collecting coin memorabilia of Queen Elizabeth or completing collections of British coins and would like help, contact us at Grand Rapids Coins. We are always happy to assist!