On 29th January 2020 we marked the milestone 200th anniversary of the end of King George III’s reign. And whilst some will remember him as the ‘Mad King’, there is no denying the coins issued during his reign are some of the most iconic to have ever graced the pockets of the British public.

Now, to celebrate his legacy The East India Company has released a new range of Sovereigns that at once pay tribute to this remarkable monarch and also honour the classic coins of his reign.

I’ve picked out some of my favourite designs to share with you today so you, too, can have the joy of discovering the most beautiful coins issued during King George III’s rule.

St George and the Dragon

Designed by renowned engraver Benedetto Pistrucci, the St George and the Dragon design is probably one of the most instantly recognisable motifs in numismatic history. The design first appeared on the modern Sovereign in 1817, when it was struck to replace the gold Guinea following the Great Recoinage Act of 1816, and it still appears on today’s Sovereigns. This made King George III the first monarch to appear on the modern Sovereign, so it’s only fitting really that he is commemorated on a new range of Sovereign coins.

Pistrucci’s iconic design also appeared on King George III’s 1818 Crown, the first type of Crown or Five Shillings to be issued in his reign. This Crown was the first ‘new’ Crown coinage to be struck, and significantly only 155,000 were ever minted – making it highly sought-after amongst collectors today.

George III Silver 1818 Crown  - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign
George III Silver 1818 Crown
(Image courtesy of JN Coins, http://www.jncoins.co.uk/Shop/milled-crowns/702-george-iii-silver-crown-1818-lix.html)

The East India Company have chosen to strike a beautiful interpretation of this timeless design on the most prestigious Sovereign denomination – the Five Sovereign. The spectacular scene is framed by the Latin motto “hoit soit que mal y pense”, which translates to “shame on him who thinks evil of it” – the motto of the British chivalric Order of the Garter.

5 Sovereign EIC 2020 Reverse - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign
East India Company Five Sovereign coin reverse design

‘Counter Stamped’ Spanish Dollar

The cost of the French Revolutionary Wars, combined with the threat of invasion on the Welsh and Irish coasts, took its toll on the Bank of England resulting in members of the public demanding to withdraw large sums of cash. The result was a currency crisis, as the panicked public depleted the coin and bullion reserves of the Bank of England.

One thing was clear, a solution to the gold and silver coin shortage had to be found, and quickly. At the time most of the Bank’s reserves were held in the most popular coin of the time – Spanish Dollars. To fix the currency crisis King George III authorised the counter stamping of these Spanish Dollars with a ‘puncheon’ of the King’s head as part of the hallmarking. These modified dollars were released rapidly into the market, allaying the currency crisis.

1797 King George III Counter Stamped Spanish Dollar 1 - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign
1797 King George III Counter Stamped Spanish Dollar
(Image courtesy of coinweek.com, https://coinweek.com/dealers-companies/ma-shops/coinweek-sponsor-amazing-uk-coins-on-ma-shops/)

In tribute to this iconic coin, the East India Company has replicated the design on a Double Sovereign piece. The reverse features an effigy of King Charles III of Spain inset with the effigy of King George III to represent the same process as the original Spanish Dollar coins.

LS 2019 St Helena Double Sovereign gold proof coin Rev - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign
East India Company Double Sovereign coin reverse design

Spade Guinea

Under King George III’s reign Britain witnessed the Great Recoinage Act of 1816, following which the favoured gold coin of the time, the Guinea, was replaced by the Sovereign. This was a huge moment for Britain in terms of its currency as the Guinea had become the very foundation of the British Empire’s growth during the late 17th and 18th centuries. Had the Guinea remained in use it would have been circulating at the time of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo!

In its heyday several different motifs featured on Guineas, but none is as famous as the Spade Guinea. Nicknamed because of the spade-like shield on its reverse, this design featured on the last ever circulating Guinea during King George III’s reign.

King George III 1798 Spade Guinea - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign
King George III 1798 Spade Guinea
(Image courtesy of JN Coins, http://www.jncoins.co.uk/Shop/milled-gold/118-george-iii-spade-guinea-1798.html)

In fact, this is the only Guinea to feature this distinctive reverse design, and the Half Guinea issued in the same era is the only Half Guinea to also feature it. This makes the Spade Guinea one of a kind. It is this fact which makes the coin fascinating to collectors and historians alike.

Although the Guinea is no longer in circulation you may still come across its name from time to time in classic horse racing. The longstanding tradition of livestock being traded in Guinea values still exists in some auction houses and horse racing organisations because the name ‘Guinea’ is so intrinsically linked with the ‘sport of kings’.

And now this iconic deign has been faithfully replicated on a Sovereign, issued by the East India Company. It represents England, Scotland, France and Ireland, as well as the German possessions of the Hanoverian dynasty.

It goes without saying that this design is my favourite – the motif is so classic and steeped in history, what’s not to love? Do you have a favourite design, or perhaps you have another coin design from King George III’s reign you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!


If you’re interested…

You can secure the East India Company 2020 Sovereign now. The coin is impeccably struck to the same exacting standards as the UK sovereign – in 7.98 grams of 22 Carat Gold. All that differs is the design and – crucially – the edition limit. This new issue has a strict worldwide edition limit of 1,820over four times more limited than the UK 2020 Sovereign.

Click here for details >>

LS 2019 St Helena Spade Shield Sovereign gold proof coin rev - Celebrating the most iconic coins of King George III’s reign

You can also view the full East India Company 2020 Sovereign range by clicking here >>

It’s not often that you see a complete set of historic stamps with such monumental importance. And it’s even rarer for those stamps to be alongside a complete set of coins of the same year, in this case 1953.

But the Queen Elizabeth II Complete Coronation Stamp and Coin Collection has both of these highly collectable items, and it has a tiny edition limit of 495!

So, join Adam as he takes a closer look at what is surely the perfect collector’s tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.


If you’re interested…

UK 1953 coronation coin and stamp set box - Unboxing a complete set of 1953 coins and stamps

Click here to be one of JUST 495 collectors to own the The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Coin and Stamp Collection >>

In today’s video we’re taking you back to the 18th century – or 1797 to be more precise.

Of course, this was the year of the Cartwheel Pennies. The largest and heaviest coins to ever have been issued for circulation and they really were HUGE.

The story behind how these coins came about is honestly fascinating making them one of the most sought-after coins in British coin collections.

So buckle up as today I’m taking you back in time for a history lesson in British coinage…


If you’re interested…

Click here to add the 1797 George III ‘Cartwheel’ Coin Set to your collection>>

george iii cartwheel coin set - The most famous penny of them all