A new range of commemorative coins from the East India Company has been launched commemorating 200 years since the demise of one of history’s great coins, the British Guinea. Introduced by Charles II who saw the process of machine-based minting while in exile, the Guinea debuted on 6 February 1663 and it was produced in several variants until it’s end in 1814. The mill and screw press gave far superior dimensional regularity and each 22kt coin weighed around 8.4 grams. Unofficially named after the African country Guinea because most of the gold to produce them came from there, the coin was eventually replaced by the equally iconic Sovereign coin, still in production today.

The East India Company has really rolled out the red carpet for the anniversary, launching no less than five gold and two gilded silver coins. Each carries a modern representation of the last design to feature on each Guinea version, only the silver pair having matching reverse side faces. Very heraldic imagery always looks good on a coin, and while the rim of inscriptions is a little large for me, the designs would certainly have huge appeal appeal to collectors of Sovereigns and more modern Britsh coins. Both ranges have superb Queen Elizabeth II effigies on them. Each coin has an identical specification to the original, except for the silver of course

With prices of individual coins and coin sets ranging from £84.95 up to £3999.95, there’s a wide range to suit most collectors pockets and mintages on most are relatively tight. Packaging looks excellent and all contain enclosed Certificates of Authenticity. Available to order now, they should start to ship from 22 June. The mint put together an excellent press pack full of information that is mostly reproduced below and much can be read by clicking the grey buttons.

MINTS DESCRIPTION

The East India Company Bullion Ltd, a subsidiary of The East India Company unveils the designs for their latest numismatic programme entitled the “2016 Bicentenary Guinea Collection”, which pays tribute to the Gold Guinea and its remarkable 150 year history. On the 200th anniversary of the Great Re-coinage Act of 1816, which saw this reliable and popular gold coin replaced with a new sovereign, The East India Company Bullion Ltd launches a new programme which highlights the legendary Guinea. This coin became the pride of Britain’s coinage during an era which encompassed historic moments from the restoration of the monarch to the Napoleonic Wars.

The new collection includes designs for five separate denominations consisting of the Five, One, Half, Third and Quarter Guinea coins – all minted to their previous specification of the last struck circulating Guinea of each type, including weights, diameters and gold fineness. Issued under the authority of the Government of St. Helena, each coin denotes a contemporary face value denomination in pounds and pence. Of particular interest is the majestic Five Guinea coin which includes the traditional edge lettering: DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI SEXAGESIMO QUARTO (An ornament and a safeguard, in the 64th year of the reign) in recognition of the 64th year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Another important addition is the initials “EIC” which appear just under the Queen’s effigy, granted by special permission from the Royal Household to commemorate this bicentenary strike.

The proof quality coins will be available for delivery from the 22nd June. Each one displays detailed frosted relief and highly polished fields which highlight both the obverse and reverse designs, blending both traditional and contemporary elements which are inspired from the very designs last seen on the coins of each type over 200 years ago. The East India Company have their own unique history associated with the Guinea as a significant amount of gold used in their minting during the reigns of King George II & George III was sourced by The Company – these coins are designated with the letters “EIC” below the King’s portrait.

As part of the issue programme, the East India Company Bullion Ltd includes two silver commemorative coins – a five ounce and one ounce coin in this distinctive collection. The reverse design of both silver coins features the most recognisable motif which is inspired by the Spade Guinea. The coins are struck in Fine Silver and selectively plated with 24 carat gold to highlight the detail of the shield of the Spade Guinea’s original design. These silver five and one ounce Guinea Bicentenary coins have been struck in proof quality and include an effigy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.

The legacy of the Guinea today

The Guinea is remembered for the part it played in international commerce, of which Great Britain was at the forefront of on nearly every continent during its height of worldwide trade. A symbol of Britain’s rising colonial power, the Guinea was recognised and accepted throughout the world due to its reputation of purity and reliability.

Today, the “Guinea” denomination is still utilised in the world of horse trading and racing with prestigious prizes and stakes being termed in “Guineas” in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia.

2016 marks the 200th anniversary of the end of the Guinea era. This bicentenary issue of five gold proof coins is a celebration of this iconic coin, paying homage to the incredible craftsmanship and designs found on the last circulating Guineas.

The East India Company under the authority of the Government of St. Helena issues this series of coins celebrating the 200th anniversary of the end of the Guinea era. Whilst the designs are inspired by the last Guinea coins to circulate as coinage in Britain, the 2016 interpretation of their designs and the quality of minting, utilising techniques simply not possible 200 years ago, has resulted in a series of Guineas unlike any minted before.

The series features a number of important coin firsts including: – The First Five and Third Guinea coin types to be issued in the reign of Queen Elizabeth II – The first time a special provenance mark has featured under the effigy of Her Majesty The Queen – Angular ‘rope’ milling to the One, Half, Third and Quarter Guinea – “An ornament and a safe guard” edge lettering to the majestic Five Guinea

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SPECIFICATION

DENOMINATION COMPOSITION WEIGHT DIAMETER FINISH MINTAGE BOX / COA
5 GUINEAS (£5) 0.9167 GOLD 42.0 g 37.0 mm PROOF 300 YES / YES
1 GUINEA (£1.05) 0.9167 GOLD 8.4 g 24.0 mm PROOF 2016 YES / YES
HALF GUINEA (£0.5) 0.9167 GOLD 4.2 g 20.0 mm PROOF 600 YES / YES
THIRD GUINEA (£0.3) 0.9167 GOLD 2.8 g 17.5 mm PROOF 600 YES / YES
QUARTER GUINEA (£0.2) 0.9167 GOLD 2.1 g 16.0 mm PROOF 600 YES / YES
£0.5 UKP 0.999 SILVER 155.5 g 35.0 mm PROOF 3,000 YES / YES
£0.2 UKP 0.999 SILVER 31.1 g 38.6 mm PROOF 10.000 YES / YES

The Five Guinea coin is available to purchase separately (200 pcs) and in a five-coin set (100pcs). The Half, Quarter and Third Guinea coins are available as part of a three-coin set limited to 500 sets or in the five-coin set which is limited to just 100 sets. The One Guinea coin is available to purchase separately or as part of the three or five coin sets.

Below-left is a guinea from the reign of Charles II, the monarch that introduced the coin, and below-right is a guinea from the reign of George III, the monarch that ended production of it. Images are from M & H Coins that seem to have a fine selection of original Guinea coins for sale.

THE EAST INDIA COMPANY