Sixteenth century classic Una & the Lion celebrates Queen Victoria’s bicentenary with new gold coin

First published in 1590 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser is an English epic poem – especially epic in the sense of its length as it is one of the longest poems ever written in the English language. Spread over six books, the latter three published in 1596, it examines many base virtues by following the the travails of some knights. A primarily allegorical work, it both praises and criticises Elizabeth without being overt.

A classic of English literature, one of the most iconic tales within it is that of Una and the Lion, of which you can read more about further down. In this bicentennial anniversary year of the birth of Queen Victoria, the East India Company have chosen the tale for its new limited series of gold coins. Why Victoria if the poem was Elizabethan? Well, because in 1837 Una & the Lion appeared on a British coin for the first time. With the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, this is a clever and intriguing link between the three women that represent such a potent symbol of female royalty – each being a giant of their times.

The coin is gorgeous and will clearly have huge appeal for collectors of classic designs, like the Sovereign and the Britannia. A regal Una with her hand upon a quite fearsome looking big cat ticks all the jingoistic checkboxes, and short of including the Union flag, screams ‘Britain’. A border, perhaps a little wider than we’d like, frames the pair and carries the title, date and EIC privy mark. All told, we really like this one.

We’ve just described the 1oz coin, but there are 1/4oz and minigold (0.5g) versions as well. Rather than try to cram the whole design into these smaller canvases, the EIC have done what the NZ Mint have undertaken in the past with good success on Star Wars Classic, they’ve cropped and enlarged a portion of the artwork. The part chosen is perfectly judged and we’d consider this preferable to a tiny reproduction of the whole design – especially on the 11 mm minigold.

Mintages are pretty limited with the 1oz gold (£1,895) capped at 200 pieces and the 1/4oz (£535) at 499. The minigold (£49) will stop at 3,000 units. If you like the coins and want one, EIC are discounting the early batch by £100, £40, and £4.95 respectively. The first in a new annual series, we can’t wait to see what comes next. Available to order now, they will start to ship from 04 November.

UNA & THE LION by EIC

The newest coin in our collection features Una, a heroine for all ages, symbolising beauty, purity and integrity and her Lion, representing strength and honour. This is the first design in a much-anticipated new yearly collection and a hallmark coin for The East India Company. Designed by Glyn Davies, this modern interpretation of a classic heroine and her protector are beautifully captured in a striking pose full of beauty and power.

Una is a beautiful princess who’s parents and kingdom are captured by a ferocious dragon. She sets out on a quest to free them from the dragon’s clutches, taking her on an epic journey of battles, adventure and romance.

During her quest she faces many challenges that tests her humility and determination, including being confronted by a fierce lion. The lion is so taken by her beauty and purity that he abandons his attack on her, becoming her protector.

Una enlists the help of a knight to help her slay the Dragon. Steadfast and true to her cause, Una’s virtues inspire the knight to slay the dragon and fulfil his destiny as the hero St George, the patron saint of England.

This epic tale is the creation of celebrated English poet Edmund Spencer. Written in 1590 the story of Una and the Lion has stood the test of time to become a symbol of beauty strength, honour and endurance.

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION £5 St Helena £2 St Helena £2 St Helena
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 7.78 grams 0.5 grams
DIMENSIONS 32.0 mm 25.0 mm 11.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
MODIFICATIONS None None None
MINTAGE 200 499 3,000
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
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THE EAST INDIA COMPANY