Mary Gillick

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Mary Gaskell Gillick OBE (1881 – 27 January 1965) [1] was a sculptor best known for her effigy of Elizabeth II used on coinage in the United Kingdom and elsewhere from 1953 to 1970.


Effigy of Elizabeth II by Mary Gillick Effigy of Elizabeth II (by Mary Gillick).jpg
Effigy of Elizabeth II by Mary Gillick

Born Mary Tutin in Nottingham, she was educated at the Nottingham School of Art (1898–1902) and at the Royal College of Art (1902–1904), where she studied under the sculptor Édouard Lantéri. [2] After making her first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1911, she designed several medals to be used as awards, and several other, larger relief sculptures in stone and bronze.

Mary Gillick was married (1905) to another noteworthy sculptor, Ernest Gillick, who is believed to have influenced her work.

She was appointed OBE in the 1953 Coronation Honours.

Effigy of Elizabeth II

In 1952, Gillick's effigy design was selected from a field of seventeen to be used on general-circulation coinage for the new Queen Elizabeth, first issued in 1953. Gillick worked on the portrait between March and October 1952, with one sitting and close supervision by the Duke of Edinburgh. [2] Gillick's design was notable for portraying the Queen uncrowned, and was the last to be used on the pre-decimal coinage.

Gillick's die master had insufficient relief, and the striking was too weak. Facial features and the dress folds in the shoulder disappeared. The problem was solved by re-cutting the dies. This remastering was performed by Cecil Thomas, an experienced medallist who had already crafted overseas currencies featuring Elizabeth II, but who had initially been turned down for the British coinage in preference to Gillick. [3]

A cameo of Gillick's effigy of the Queen has been used on British commemorative stamps since 1966. The original effigy is also still used for Maundy money.

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  1. Mrs Mary Gaskell Gillick OBE in: Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851–1951, accessed 12 Dec 2013
  2. 1 2 "Mary Gillick: Her Art in Your Pocket, exhibition at the Henry Moore Institute" . Retrieved 16 July 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. Thomas, Cecil Walter (1885–1976), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Sept 2004
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Obverse sculptor

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