Heads or Tails

Ever wondered about the different sides of our coins?


Australian coins are struck with an image of the reigning monarch as their obverse design, commonly referred to as the "heads-side" of a coin.

The inclusion of an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse of Australia's coinage is mandated by Regulation 4(c) of the Currency Regulations made under the Currency Act 1965.

Since her coronation in 1953, six effigies of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II have appeared on the obverse of Australian coins. Previous effigies were designed by Mary Gillick (1953), Arnold Machin (1966), and Raphael Maklouf (1985). Since 1998, Australian coins have used the current effigy by Ian Rank-Broadley. During 2000, Royal Australian Mint designer Vladimir Gottwald's effigy was used on the 50c Royal Visit coin.

In September 2018, the sixth effigy to appear on Australian currency was unveiled. The design by Jody Clark has begun its transition onto Australian coinage in 2019 and will continue into 2020. Coins carrying previous portraits of The Queen will remain in circulation.

All the portraits of Her Majesty have faced to the right in line with a convention, said to have commenced with Charles II (1660-1685), that the new Monarch's portrait would face in a direction opposite to that of their predecessor.

The reverse side of a coin, its "tail" is struck most commonly with the decimal currency designs created by Stuart Devlin for changeover on the 14 February 1966. If you'd like to see all the different commemorative designs we've placed on circulating coins, have a look at our design pages.