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.
As you may know, this year we’re celebrating a numismatic milestone: the 50th anniversary of the 50p!
And as the collector’s favourite 7-sided coin turns 50 years old we’ve seen many commemoratives marking the occasion, which have proved immensely popular with collectors.
And a brand new UK 50p has been released today by The Royal Mint to mark the actual anniversary of the 50p – 14th October 2019.
This new coin is sure to see an overwhelming response from collectors. That’s because the new coin has THREE unique features that alone make this commemorative this year’s must have 50p release…
TWO special privy marks and a minting first
The reverse features Christopher Ironside’s iconic Britannia design, inscribed with ‘New Pence’. This was the first design to ever feature on the 7-sided 50p, released in 1969.
But what truly sets this issue apart from all other 50years of the 50p commemoratives is the inclusion of THREE special hidden features:
- Exclusive never-before-seen privy mark, designed especially for the occasion. A Spirograph-type design drawn from an extension of lines forming the 50p shape creates this unique mark. If you look in the centre you’ll see the 7-sided 50p shape we’re used to today.
- Innovative privy mark around the reverse rim of the coin. The letters A to G are inscribed on each point and are joined by arced crossing lines. It shows the science behind how the iconic 50p shape was created. Importantly, this is a minting first on a 50p coin.
- The denomination in ‘NEW PENCE’ – not seen since 1981.
These three features make this issue highly collectable and will surely be sought-after by collectors in years to come.
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p BU Pack
To give as many collectors as possible the chance to own this coin, The Royal Mint has issued it in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, which is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.
Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £10 (+p&p). Click here to find out more >>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p Silver Proof Coin
However, you can own the special commemorative 50p in an even more exclusive way – so exclusive just 3,500 collectors worldwide can own it.
This version is sure to sell incredibly quickly. Remember when The Royal Mint re-issued for 2019 some of the most iconic 50ps, to celebrate the anniversary, in Silver Proof quality the popularity was unprecedented. In fact the full allocation of 3,500 COMPLETELY SOLD OUT within two hours.
That’s the same edition limit as this single coin.
The coin has the same design, but comes presented in a bespoke Royal Mint presentation box and is struck in superior .925 Sterling Silver to a perfect proof finish. Given how popular commemorative 50ps are, this exclusive precious metal version is sure to be an even bigger hit.
You can secure this limited edition coin for your collection now for just £55 (+p&p) – that’s the Royal Mint issue price. Click here to find out more >>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p Silver Piedfort Coin
But, there is an even more limited way to own this coin – as a Silver Proof Piedfort. Limited to just 1,969 collectors across the globe, this coin is nearly twice as rare as the regular Silver Proof version.
Piedforts are the pinnacle of Royal Mint craftsmanship. They are highly-sought after amongst collectors and stand out for many reasons:
- Twice the weight and thickness of a regular Silver Proof coin
- Double the amount of Silver
- Low edition limits
- Fast sell-out rates
What’s more, 50p Piedforts are extremely rare. To my knowledge only about 20 or so have ever been minted and as such are always highly sought-after.
In fact, they are so in demand that the 2019 UK Stephen Hawking 50p Silver Proof Piedfort, with a higher edition limit of 2,500, COMPLETELY SOLD OUT at The Royal Mint within two hours.
You can secure this limited edition coin for your collection now for just £19 (+p&p), followed by 4 further equal interest-free instalments. Click here to find out more >>>
We’ve all heard of the zodiac, and have probably on more than one occasion checked our daily horoscope in the hope it will reveal what the future holds. When I sat down to write this blog I was buoyant in the revelation that my day was going to be “filled with love and joy”.
But perhaps lesser known in Western culture is the Chinese Lunar Calendar and the 12 animals that represent it.
The Chinese Lunar Calendar
More commonly known as the Chinese Zodiac, it is believed the Chinese Lunar Calendar begun around 2600 B.C. and is related to the worship of animals in Chinese culture. Legend has it before departing to the next life, Buddha asked every animal on the planet to comfort him and the twelve animals (including the dragon, tiger and rat) that responded are now honoured in the lunar calendar that spans 12 years – one animal for every year.
Much like the Western Zodiac, your lunar animal sign depends when you’re born. And people born in specific lunar years are believed to have certain personality traits and characteristics related to their animal.
Turns out I was born in the Year of the Sheep – so I’m creative, compassionate and friendly. I’d say that’s fairly accurate, though I’m not sure I agree that I like to spend my money on fashionable things… you win some you lose some!
The incredible popularity of Lunar Coins
For over 40 years mints from around the world have celebrated Chinese New Year with Lunar Coins. These issues have turned in to something of an international phenomenon, to the point where the lunar theme is the largest ongoing coin programme on the planet.
Most prestigious mints have a lunar series, including Australia, Canada, and of course our own Royal Mint. With each selling millions of ounces of gold and silver coins each year inscribed with the year’s relevant lunar animal.
Collectors will snap these coins up for a variety of reasons. Some collect their own lunar animal, because they like the personal connection, others will collect a particular specification because it’s especially limited. Personally, I find they also make great birthday gifts for obvious reasons – my friends love them.
The Year of the Rat
The 25th January 2020 will mark the Chinese New Year, and with it the next lunar animal will be celebrated – the Rat.
The Rat is in fact the first animal in the Chinese Zodiac, and people who are born under the sign of the Rat are thought to be intelligent and quick-witted with rich imaginations.
If this sounds like you the odds are you’re born under the sign of the Rat. And this year your lunar animal will be celebrated on lunar coins around the world.
What’s more, The Royal Mint has just released their brand new Year of the Rat range, including what’s perhaps the most sought-after specification of all – the 1oz Silver Proof Coin.
Apparently Rats are known for taking good advantage of opportunities presented to them – so what are you waiting for, make sure you snap up your lunar coin today!
If you’re interested…
You can own the BRAND NEW Royal Mint Lunar Coin TODAY – the 1oz Silver Proof Year of the Rat coin.
This coin is sure to be the most sought-after yet because not only is the 1oz Silver Proof a key specification for collectors, it’s also got the lowest edition limit yet!