Collection Inspiration: Queen Elizabeth II

Posted on 4/19/2022

The life of the longest-reigning English monarch has been recorded on banknotes from around the world.

Paper money collectors often focus on a particular nation or even a particular series. This column is designed to offer ideas for building a collection of notes from around the world based on a common element. This month, in honor of her birthday, we look at some of the portraits of Queen Elizabeth on paper money.

The current banknotes from Great Britain show a portrait of the Queen that was originally introduced in 1990. But the image of the Queen has changed over the years, so it’s fascinating to view the progression of her life through the lens of banknotes.

Great Britain, Bank of England 2020 (ND 2021) £50 graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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This year, in addition to her 96th birthday, the Queen also marked the 70th anniversary of taking the throne — setting the record for the longest-reigning monarch over the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms. Images of the Queen throughout her reign are featured on this Scotland 2012 Commemorative £10 banknote.

Scotland 2012 £10 Commemorative graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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After her birth on April 21, 1926, the young Elizabeth quickly gained global attention. She appeared on the cover of the April 1929 issue of Time magazine, and the Commonwealth of Canada printed an image of her on their 1935 $20 banknote. After her uncle’s abdication in 1936, her father became King George VI; Elizabeth was elevated to Princess Royal, changing her world forever.

Canada, Bank du Canada 1935 French $20 graded PMG 30 Very Fine EPQ
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As she grew up, Princess Elizabeth devoted herself to public duties, including serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II. In 1947, Elizabeth married Philip Mountbatten, Prince of Greece, her partner for 73 years until his death in 2021. When her father, King George VI, passed away in 1952, Elizabeth inherited the throne, becoming Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. This Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka) 1952 5 Rupees banknote features one of the earliest portraits of the newly crowned monarch.

Ceylon, Central Bank 1952 5 Rupees graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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During the 1960s, Elizabeth II saw her family grow even as the lands under her jurisdiction shrank. Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward were all born by 1963. Meanwhile, over 20 countries, mostly in Africa and the Caribbean, transitioned to be self-governing around this time. An elegant portrait of Elizabeth II is on the front of this Fiji / British Administration 1962 5/- Shilling note; that nation gained independence by 1970.

Fiji / British Administration 1962 5/- Shillings graded PMG 58 Choice About Uncirculated
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The Silver Jubilee in 1977 was a celebration of the first quarter century of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Throughout the year, events were held all over the world. Over 4,000 parties were held in individual streets and neighborhoods, while about 500 million people worldwide watched the festivities. Elizabeth II and Prince Philip toured 36 countries and were met with enthusiasm among the people. The royal family was at the peak of popularity.

Seychelles / British Administration 1972 100 Rupees graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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A few years later, favor toward the royals waned, and turbulent issues began to take their toll on the Queen. Elizabeth II survived several harrowing assassination attempts. Notwithstanding from the chaos, milestones were achieved. Elizabeth II’s firstborn Charles married Diana Spencer in an elaborate ceremony. In 1986, the Queen became the first British monarch to visit China.

Bermuda, Monetary Authority 1982 10 Dollars graded PMG 65 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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By the time her Ruby Jubilee arrived in 1992, the Royal family faced unprecedented challenges. The Queen would reflect, “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.” This Australia note captures the Queen at roughly halfway through her current reign.

Australia, Reserve Bank 1992 5 Dollars Commemorative graded PMG 68 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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The new millennium softened the public’s harsh feelings toward the Queen and the Royal Family. Fast-forward to 2002; the Golden Jubilee marked 50 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s reign began. This note from Gibraltar, a small British territory on the Mediterranean coast, shows a smiling Queen Elizabeth.

Gibraltar / British Administration 2002 £10 graded PMG 67 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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The Diamond Jubilee of an English monarch happened twice in the nation’s history: Queen Victoria and Elizabeth II. The Queen and her husband toured around the United Kingdom, while other family members traveled to the Commonwealth realms as representatives. The Jersey 2012 £100 Commemorative note celebrates the 60th anniversary with the Queen wearing a diamond crown.

Jersey, States of Jersey 2012 £100 Commemorative graded PMG 66 Gem Uncirculated EPQ
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This year, the Platinum Jubilee began on the anniversary of her accession in February. In her Accession Day message, the Queen renewed her commitment to serving the people, reminiscent of the speech she originally made. This commemorative Year of the Tiger 2022 Niue Dollar silver note features the Queen’s profile looking to the right, seemingly forward to the future.

2022 Niue Year of the Tiger Dollar Commemorative
graded PMG 69 Superb Gem Uncirculated EPQ
Click images to enlarge.

Be sure to check out other Collection Inspiration columns to discover other ways to start building exciting collections. Also, follow PMG on Facebook, PMG on Instagram and PMG on Twitter for articles and interesting notes posted daily.

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