3 - The Bare Head 2nd Issue Sovereigns of King George IV (1825-1830)

King George IV commissioned a complete redesign of his coinage from 1825, a new somewhat flattering bust of the George VI had been created by the renowned English sculptor Francis Legatt Chantry which the King liked very much and he was insistent on its use on the new coinage. As stated a move that was to see Pistrucci ultimately removed from his post as chief engraver and William Wyon then second engraver installed to prepare and engrave the dies for the new coinage.

1823 King George IV First issue currency Two pound coin (1821-1825)

S.3798 King George IV (Laureate Head) : 1823 currency £2 two pound coin.

The 1823 Two pound coin (S3798) above was the 1st currency type 'double sovereign' to be issued. Although William Wyon would be offered the job of engraving the new bare head issue coinage, the obverse from which he was to work was engraved by Jean Baptiste Merlen previously of the Paris Mint, and employed as an assistant engraver at the Royal Mint from 1820. Although always overshadowed by Pistrucci, and Wyon his work on coinage would continue until 1887, including the reverse shield designs for the Bare Head issue George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria sovereigns. Its interesting that Jean Baptiste Merlen wasn't apparently given the job of engraving the obverse of the later George IV issue, given its favour, and the lack of any initials, does tend to make you wonder? Jean Baptiste Merlen's other work of note were the 1821/2 crowns and Maundy Money.     

The 1825 introduced bare head 2nd issue George IV sovereign was the first to carry a shield reverse which was to dominate for the next 40yrs, displaying the 5 shield design depicting the four home nations. With a centre shield being that of the House of Hanover, this would only appear on sovereigns until the reign of Queen Victoria. Although Victoria was from the House of Hanover, an ancient law 'Salic Law' barred succession to a female this meant that in 1837 the title of King of Hanover passed to George III's 5th son 'Ernest Augustus' brother of William IV. Queen Victoria herself being the last British monarch of the House of Hanover. Her son and successor, Edward VII, initiated the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the line of his father.

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 1

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 2

King George IV (1820-1830) - Part 4

Return to - Knowledge Base Home