The 1953 Sixpence was the first piece in the Queen Elizabeth II series after accession in early 1952. The obverse of the new type features Mary Gillick's effigy of Her Majesty, with the legend 'ELZIABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA" ('Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, Queen'). The reverse remained unchanged from the Blakemore Coat of Arms. The 1953 issue was produced at the Melbourne Mint to a total mintage of 1,152,000 which is the lowest mintage of the series. The year is available in mint-state up to around MS66 however all mint-state examples demand relatively handsome prices, particularly when compared to the extremely affordable 1954.
The new obverse design was completed by Mrs. Mary Gillick who worked in Chelsea as both a medallist and a designer of reliefs for memorial portraits. She submitted her preliminary design which was then chosen anonymously by a committee headed by the Duke of Edinburgh over sixteen other artists. When made public the design became a topic of heavy discussion in the media with the primary criticisms focusing on the length of Her Majesty's neck and her age. Famous sculptor Jacob Epstein stated "It might be anybody - any pretty girl.." and that it is "...not a good likeness."(Weekly Times, 1952) Humphrey Paget who had designed the effigy of King George VI and also submitted a design of Elizabeth II was more positive. He stated that "...this is a very pleasant design." and when asked about the length of the neck he said "Oddly enough the designer is quite right. I took measurements. The Queen has a long neck."(Sunday Mail, 1952) The opinions of grumbling artists like Jacob Epstein seems to have been quickly ignored with many papers eventually expressing that the public was very pleased with the new design.(The Mail, 1952)
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