Una and the Lion, a rousing symbol of the Victorian British Empire is given a refresh on St Helena’s new bullion coin

Designed by Glyn Davies and issued by the East India Company last year, a modern refresh of that classic 19th century icon of empire, Una and the Lion, hit the market and was a hit here at AgAuNEWS. We only covered the range of three gold proof coins, but a one-ounce proof silver coin appeared later on. An all new take on William Wyon’s 1839 original, it replaces the image of restrained, immense power that signified the British Empire at its height – a nod to the belief in trade and diplomacy over war, perhaps.

Whatever you may think of her, Britain remains a nation that punches well above its weight on the world stage. The casual self belief of the Victorian era has given way to a vibrant outlook, an active participation in events, and that seems to have been exemplified perfectly by Davies. The lion is less constrained, and Una, more dynamic and outward looking. I thought it was a lovely piece last year, and that hasn’t diminished since. I’d like to see the border under the inscriptions go, however, so the background is more expansive, but a minor point.

A stirring piece then, and another long-serving queen fills the obverse – the Jody Clark uncouped effigy taking pride of place. Like a lot of EIC’s output, it is issued for St Helena. This tiny island in the South Atlantic, is the second oldest British Overseas Territory and one of the remotest inhabited islands anywhere on Earth. It’s steeped in history. Oliver Cromwell granted the original East India Company a charter for the island way back in 1657, and a century before, it’s likely Sir Francis Drake passed by on the final leg of his circumnavigation of the globe, when Queen Elizabeth I sat on the throne. Famously, Napoleon was imprisoned there in 1815, Captain James Cook and the Endeavour provisioned there in 1775, and the astronomer Edmund Halley built an observatory on the island in 1676. In 1840, a naval base was constructed to help suppress the African slave trade, which it did with much success over the next decade. This 16 x 8 km (10 x 5 miles) island seems to pop up through history more than Bill and Ted or Forrest Gump…

After my waffling on, we get to the point. EIC and LPM in Hong Kong have brought out a one-ounce silver bullion coin featuring the full design of the similarly sized gold proof from last year (the other variants had a cropped version of the design). With a mintage of only 5,000 pieces, it’s a good fit for the ever expanding limited mintage bullion market and an affordable way to get this pretty update. Available to order from today.

UNA & THE LION by EIC

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.

Below: the gold proof versions (left) and the 1839 original from the Royal Mint reissue

SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION £1 (St Helena)
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 31.1 grams
DIMENSIONS 38.6 mm
FINISH Brilliant uncirculated
MODIFICATIONS None
MINTAGE 5,000
BOX / C.O.A. Capsule
EAST INDIA COMPANY