The Royal Mint’s ‘British Monarchs Collection’ adds the 17th century monarch, James I as its second numismatic homage

Never one to shy away from a multi-coin, multi-year release programme, the Royal Mint has issued some superb series over the last decade, with the Queen’s Beasts standing out as a prime example. Even so, the 21-coin, 5-year schedule of the British Monarchs Collection is an ambitious one, but the inspiration for it is solidly in numismatic territory, and the source material is copious in variety.

This second coin, jumping forward a century from the Henry VII groat that debuted in January, is one for the Scottish king, James VI, who became James I, the ruling monarch of England and Ireland upon the death of Elizabeth I. He was the first of the Stuart dynasty, that would go on to rule for just over a century, except for the 21-year period after Charles I died from an axe-related pain in the neck.

The coin chosen for reminting in ‘high-definition’ form this time, is a Gold Crown dating from the period of 1604-1619. The original coins were approximately 20-23 mm in diameter, and weighed around 2.5 grams of 22 kt gold.

Depicting James I with an orb and sceptre, they were more advanced than the earlier hammered coins, but retained the inconsistent edge that comes with that type of strike. The Royal Mint has tried to replicate that look, as it did with the Henry VII issue, but a little less successfully, in our view, as this one seems to have a more modern flavour to it. That’s probably to be expected as the series works its way forward through time.

As is typical of the Royal Mint these days, there is a big selection of formats – seven this time. Four proof silver (1, 2, 5, 10 oz), and three proof gold coins (1, 2, 5
oz) will make up the range, all carrying the same design, and all boxed with a Certificate of Authenticity. There’s also a limited run of two-coin sets, containing a 2 oz proof gold coin, along with an original James I gold crown. Only ten sets will be made available, and they will retail for £8,000. All versions will be available to purchase from the Royal Mint website at noon, British time, today.


The Royal Mint has today revealed the second coin in the British Monarchs series, with a design dedicated to James I – the Scottish king James VI who succeeded Elizabeth I to become king of England. The reverse of the latest coin features a coinage portrait of James I from circa 1604-1619, while the obverse features Jody Clark’s definitive portrait of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

The seventeenth-century monarch appears on this new coin in the same classic design that would have featured on the coins of the Jacobean era. Whilst the design first appeared on British coinage more than 400 years ago, this coinage portrait has been faithfully recreated as close to the original as possible using state-of-the-art technology.

Much like Tudor coinage, fishtailing is a common defect on Stuart coins, where you get a slight distortion at the bottom of letters created by the pressure of a die on the metal, which in turn causes an outward flow. Also, characteristic of this period is flatter surface area on the blanks which allow for a more polished finish and showcase and improvement in minting technologies compared to the hammered coins of the earlier period. These characteristics have been faithfully recreated in the new James I portrait design,

Rebecca Morgan, Director of Collector Services, said: “There is strong appeal for collectors with this coin series. There are very few high-quality examples of coinage from the Stuart period, and they are coveted by collectors for their iconic design and rarity and the effigies have been faithfully recreated in fine detail using state-of-the-art technology and numismatic processes. People love to collect the coins of different monarchs, and this series gives the chance for collectors to add key monarchs to complete their collections.”

The Stuarts were the first kings of the United Kingdom. King James VI of Scotland also became King James I of England, thus combining the two thrones for the first time. The Stuart dynasty reigned in England and Scotland from 1603 to 1714, a period which saw a flourishing Court culture but also much upheaval and instability, of plague, fire and war.

Gordon Summers, Chief Engraver at The Royal Mint, said: “As you move out of the Tudor period, we start getting coins struck in collars, so they were perfectly round. As a result, there is a marked difference between the quality of Tudor coins and Stuart coins. However, there is still fishtailing on Stuart coins, where you get a slight curve at the bottom of the letter. They would have tried their best at the time, but it wouldn’t have been perfect, so we’ve made a conscious effort to reproduce the coins in this manner.”

Rebecca Morgan added: “The remastered James I coin has been produced to the highest modern striking standards, but retains features which honour its unique history. In an advancement from the hammered coins of the Tudor period, the coinage of the Stuart era reflects improvements in portrait engraving and the use of master punches to repeat portraits on individual dies. The table surface of the coin is flatter, which allows for a polished finish which is reflected in the new coin.”


COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 156.30 grams 62.42 grams 31.21 grams
DIMENSIONS 50.0 mm 40.0 mm 32.69 mm
LEP MINTAGE 50 150 100
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 312.59 grams 156.30 grams 62.86 grams 31.21 grams
DIMENSIONS 65.0 mm 65.0 mm 40.0 mm 38.61 mm
LEP MINTAGE 150 275 700 1,250
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes