The East India Company celebrates the coronation of King Charles III with a gold guinea in five sizes
Producer of some quite beautiful, traditionally styled coins, the East India Company is at it again with their contribution to the growing numismatic celebration of the coronation of King Charles III. Taking place on the 6th May, the event, the first coronation of a British monarch since 1952, is obviously going to attract much attention in the coin world, and so far, it’s all been quite elegant and understated.
EIC aren’t upsetting the status quo either, choosing the safe harbour that is heraldry, and that’s no bad thing, given this is very much a historical event, steeped in the heraldic world. Using the old Guinea design as a basis, it also carries a new effigy of King Charles III and the inscription ‘2023 CORONATION’ on the reverse. It’s all very formal, steeped in history, and quite appropriate to the event. The press release is full of information, so check that out below.
The range encompasses a single design, but comes in five weights, all struck in 0.9167 (22 kt) gold. The base Guinea of 8.4 grams weight is the only one available individually presented, with some 550 of the 720 mintage offered this way. In addition, it’s also in a three-coin set, along with a half and quarter Guinea, of which there will be 120 produced. Finally, topping the range is a five-coin set, which takes the three-coin set’s contents, but adds the far larger Double Guinea, and Five Guinea coins. Only 50 of those sets will be offered. All are available to order now.
UPDATE: Mintage numbers corrected to lower figures. It’s rarer than we thought.
The first Guineas were struck during the first Carolean Age, the reign of King Charles II. Up until this point, in the years before machine production, Britain’s hammered gold and silver coins were often subject to ‘clipping’, the illegal practice of shaving or cutting the edges off coins to collect small fragments of the precious metals. With the introduction of machine-struck coinage in 1663, new gold and silver coins could now be minted with a milled edge and edge lettering to deter this dark practice.
The Guinea was Britain’s first machine-struck gold coin, and such was the belief in the security and artistry of the new coin that the writer John Evelyn proposed that the phrase DECUS ET TUTAMEN, translated as ‘An Ornament and a Safeguard’, should feature on the edge of the majestic Five Guinea piece. King Charles II wholeheartedly agreed, and the phrase has since become a testament to the Guinea’s absolute reliability and unmatched beauty.
Guinea was originally just the coin’s nickname, as much of the gold used to strike it came from Africa’s Guinea Coast. But the name became so widely used that it was officially adopted in 1720 under King George I. In later years, the East India Company often supplied the gold used to mint these magnificent coins, and during the reign of George II some Guineas bore the EIC mint mark to recognise this.
Originally worth one English pound or 20 shillings, the Guinea reflected the fluctuating gold price until 1717 when its value became fixed at 21 shillings, or £1.05 in today’s decimalised currency. It went on to play a key role in the story of British history, its influence stretching far and wide during the golden age of trade, exploration and adventure, travelling the world on East India Company ships and establishing its reputation for quality and reliability.
Machine-struck to ensure its specification, with edge milling and lettering to enhance security, the Guinea became widely trusted for its purity and precision by merchants who explored the world seeking new and exotic treasures. Today, the Guinea is recognised as one of the most significant and famous coins in world history. Indeed, even though it has been out of regular production since it was replaced by the Sovereign in the Great Recoinage of 1816, the golden Guinea is still familiar to our modern lives, mainly due to its association with horse racing and the fact that the sale of livestock and racehorses is still quoted in Guineas. Payment is then made to the original one-pound value, with the post-1717 five pence difference traditionally taken by the auctioneer as commission.
Through the passages of time the Guinea’s obverse has carried the portrait of every monarch from Charles II to George III. It has witnessed the deposition of King James II in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the creation of the United Kingdom with the 1707 Act of Union during the reign of Queen Anne, the rise of the House of Hanover under George I and the Napoleonic Wars under the reign of George III. Its reverse has featured some of the most iconic and beautiful designs in the history of coinage, each telling its own story of the politics, geography and monarchy of the British Isles.
Now, the spade design is available once again, for the first time featuring the portrait of King Charles III on their obverse, creating a direct connection between the two Carolean Ages and writing a new contemporary chapter in the fascinating, historic and ongoing story of the golden Guinea. Issued under the authority of St Helena, the the 2023 Coronation Guinea gold coins are finished to The East India Company’s finest proof quality. Each encapsulated coin is presented in a custom case and accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity and informative booklet.
|QUARTER GUINEA||2.1 g of 0.9167 gold||16 mm||Proof||170|
|HALF GUINEA||4.2 g of 0.9167 gold||20 mm||Proof||170|
|GUINEA||8.4 g of 0.9167 gold||24 mm||Proof||720|
|DOUBLE GUINEA||16.8 g of 0.9167 gold||32 mm||Proof||50|
|FIVE GUINEA||42.0 g of 0.9167 gold||37 mm||Proof||50|
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