As I’m sure you know, this year we celebrate the milestone 95th birthday of our monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
This is a crucial moment in our country’s history. She is longest reigning head of state that the UK, and in fact the world, has ever seen. Amazingly, 81% of the British population has been born following her coronation, so she is the only monarch that the majority of us have ever known.
This makes her reign one of the most important and impressive in Britain’s history.
To mark this momentous occasion The East India Company has issued a special limited edition Gold Proof Sovereign that’s frankly the most important gold coin in the world right now.
You’ll understand when you see the design and the edition limit. These two things are going to make this Sovereign one of the most sought-after gold coins in history, and the very pinnacle for all collectors looking to mark the Queen’s birthday…
Nostalgic Mary Gillick Portrait
It goes without saying that Sovereigns are one of the most collected coins in the world. Known in the 19th century as ‘the chief coin of the world’ it has maintained its global reputation for accuracy, integrity and beauty.
Whilst the reverse of this Sovereign depicts the iconic image of St George slaying the dragon, it’s the obverse that’s going to have collectors rushing to secure this coin.
You see, The East India Company has been given special permission to use the very first official portrait of the Queen by Mary Gillick on this coin’s obverse, making this the first time it has been seen on a Sovereign for over 50 years.
Significantly, the Gillick portrait was the first effigy of Her Majesty to be used on UK coin. This nostalgic effigy, emphasising the Queen’s youth and vitality, represents the beginning of her reign and is the perfect tribute to her impressive reign and legacy.
Over Ten Times Rarer than the UK Proof Sovereign
Importantly, the East India Company Gold Proof Sovereign is 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.
It has a strict single coin worldwide edition limit of 750, which when compared to the significantly higher UK 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign edition limit of 7,995 makes this coin over TEN times more limited.
What’s more the UK 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign was also issued specially to mark the 95th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, and it completely SOLD OUT at the Mint inside nine weeks of release!
The Most Important Gold Coin in the World Right Now
It’s clear that there is high demand this year for commemoratives marking the Queen’s birthday – and it’s only February!
Whilst I suspect we will see many more commemoratives for Her Majesty’s 95th birthday, this Sovereign is undoubtedly the most significant. Frankly, it’s the most important gold coin you can find right now in the world.
The scarcity of these Sovereigns alone will make them highly sought-after amongst collectors, but when you consider the historic use of the Mary Gillick portrait – not seen on a coin for 50 years! – I’m sure they will be at the top of every collector’s must-have list.
Especially if the sell-out of the UK 2021 Sovereign is anything to go by, these coins will be snapped up in a flash.
If you’re interested…
It’s clear that any collector looking to secure one of these rare coins will have to take urgent action.
As an Official Distributor of The East India Company, we are lucky to have a limited number of these significant Sovereigns available for Westminster Collection collectors.
But with so few available, and demand for Queen Elizabeth II commemoratives already at an all-time high, we do not expect that we have enough coins to go around. Therefore, these coins are offered on a strict first-come, first-served basis.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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 1,820 – over four times more limited than the UK 2020 Sovereign.
Storytelling is one of humanity’s oldest pastimes, with events being captured and passed on for centuries though art, music and dance long before we were writing them down. And one of the oldest and most reliable ways a country can tell its stories is through its coins.
This should come as no surprise. If you think about it, currency is the constant that has always been around in one form or another. It’s continually evolving and adapting to the next chapter in the story.
But there’s one coin in particular that holds more meaning than most – as it blends fact with fiction to produce the world’s most beautiful coin, Una and the Lion.
Controversial, yet beyond improvement
In 1839 William Wyon was commissioned to design a new coin to commemorate the anniversary of Queen Victoria’s coronation.
But it made headlines. It was controversial.
In a bold move it depicted Queen Victoria as the fictional character Lady Una, from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. Never before had someone, let alone a ruler, been featured on a coin as a fictional character.
The design shows Lady Una walking alongside her guardian and symbol of England, the lion. It is symbolic of the young monarch leading her vast empire.
Whilst a daring move, the coin was an instant success. Critics hailed it as “beyond improvement”, and to this day it’s regarded as one of the most beautiful coins to have ever been struck.
Part of its beauty was the high relief, providing exquisite intricate detail to the fictional design. But in many ways this was also its downfall, as it meant the coin could not be struck with any consistency. As a result the commemorative was only struck for one year, producing just 400 coins. This makes it extremely rare!
The inspiration: a princess and her protector
Published in 1590, The Faerie Queene, is one of the longest and most distinguished poems in the English language. It was written during the height of the Renaissance when England had just broken away from the Catholic Church and formed its own Protestant Church. Set against the backdrop of this turbulent religious landscape, The Faerie Queene draws on history and myth to deliver numerous tales of romance, adventure, battles, morality and religion.
The first book of the epic poem follows the trials and tribulations of Lady Una – the young and beautiful daughter of a king and queen who have been imprisoned by a ferocious dragon. In a bid to save her parents she embarks on a quest, but on her journey she encounters a fierce lion who plans to eat her.
In a twist of events the lion is so captivated by Una’s beauty and innocence that he abandons his plans to eat her, and instead he becomes her protector and companion.
Together, the iconic pair have become a symbol of beauty, strength and endurance.
The most beautiful coin just became even more exquisite
The Royal Mint has just released a brand new UK Una and the Lion 2oz Silver Proof coin, featuring this iconic and highly sought-after design motif.
Finding an original Una and the Lion coin is virtually impossible, so this may be one of the only ways to secure this design motif for your own collection.
But with an edition limit of just 3,000 worldwide, there aren’t many available for collectors.
As an official Royal Mint distributor, we have secured a limited number for Westminster collectors.