Saint Helena and the East India Company join the growing interest in classic British coin designs with The Three Graces

The renaissance in older British coin designs continues with the launch of a new ‘Masterpieces’ range from the East India Company. The series will revisit classics from yesteryear, but on the evidence of this first release, won’t reinterpret them, but rather reproduce them with more modern minting techniques.

First out of the door is William Wyon’s very popular ‘The Three Graces’. Despite never actually making it into circulation, this early 19th century design was produced by Wyon for a competition. It’s a very pretty piece indeed and has inspired several releases over the last few years. The Royal Mint did an issue as part of its own ‘Great Engravers’ series just a few months ago with an almost identical design, but both Mint XXI and Powercoin have similar takes based on the Canava statue that inspired Wyon.

EIC’s coin will certainly appeal to those shocked by the stratospheric aftermarket performance of the Royal Mint coin, so lovers of the design effectively have a second chance to get one, and at a more sensible price. Outside of the EIC privy mark, they’re extremely similar. The choice of size is excellent, with 1oz and 2oz weights available in both 999 silver and 9999 gold, all struck to a proof finish.

In addition, the producer is also making what they call ‘Crown Pattern’ versions in the 1oz format. They differ quite a bit from the normal versions though. The silver coin is sterling 0.925 silver and around 1.2 mm wider in diameter. The gold is 22kt (0.9167) and quite a bit larger than the 0.999 variant, matching the silver at 39.8 mm. These appear to be a more hand-finished strike, and despite using less pure metal, come in at around double the price. A future classic perhaps. Available to order now.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The East India Company Bullion Ltd., in association with the Government of St Helena, is pleased to announce the Masterpiece Collection, a new series of gold and silver coins which enables modern enthusiasts to add some of history’s greatest coin designs to their collections. The series begins with William Wyon’s The Three Graces.

William Wyon is today widely regarded as one of history’s great coin designers; along with Benedetto Pistrucci he is perhaps the defining engraver of the 19th Century. His iconic ‘Young Head’ portrait of Queen Victoria graced the coins of her reign and Empire for nearly 50 years. But it was as a young Assistant Engraver, aged just 22 years old, that William Wyon entered the competition to design the coins for the Great Recoinage of 1816 with his neoclassical Masterpiece; The Three Graces.

The Three Graces, or Charities, are goddesses from the mythical stories of Ancient Greece. Said to be daughters of the mighty Zeus, they each represent key virtues that we would probably all recognise as the very best things in life: • The cheerful Euphrosyne symbolises joy and laughter. • The bright Aglaea is the personification of elegance and beauty. • And finally, Thalia represents festivity and the blooming of youth.

Wyon’s design captured the contemporary rebirth of interest in the Classics to cleverly tell the story of a recent landmark moment in history, The 1801 Act of Union, which had seen the Kingdom of Great Britain and Kingdom of Ireland combine to form The United Kingdom. At the feet of the three sisters Wyon added a harp, a shield bearing the flag of St George and an oversized thistle. He decorated their crowns with shamrocks, roses and further thistles, the national symbols of Scotland, England and Ireland. Around the entwined Graces is the motto “Foedus Inviolabile’, meaning ‘unbreakable league’, a message of hope for the strength and opportunity created by this new union.

While it ultimately did not win the competition and never went into production, around 50 ‘Pattern Pieces’ were produced which became desirable collectors’ items as Wyon’s reputation flourished. Issued under the authority of St Helena, William Wyon’s The Three Graces has been made available to collectors once again thanks to the human touch of expert hand craftsmanship working in harmony with the best of modern minting techniques. Each encapsulated coin is presented in a custom case and accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity and informative booklet.

SILVER SPECIFICATION
VARIANT Crown Pattern 1oz 1oz 2oz
DENOMINATION £5 UKP (St Helena) £1 UKP (St Helena) £2 UKP (St Helena)
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 27.4 grams 31.1 grams 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 39.8 mm 38.61 mm 45.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
MINTAGE 1,817 3,000 2,500
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
GOLD SPECIFICATION
VARIANT Crown Pattern 1oz 1oz 2oz
DENOMINATION £5 UKP (St Helena) £5 UKP (St Helena) £5 UKP (St Helena)
COMPOSITION 0.9167 silver 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 31.1 grams 31.1 grams 62.2 grams
DIMENSIONS 39.8 mm 32.0 mm 45.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
MINTAGE 1,817 400 250
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
THE EAST INDIA COMPANY