The Great Engravers Collection
Commencing in 2019, the Royal Mint issued the first of a series of coins celebrating the work of The Great Engravers.
This series introduced in 2019 celebrates the work of the Royal Mint's great engravers over the past 200 years, recreating many of the iconic designs. The series to date contains three reworked masterpieces from William Wyon, the 2019 'Una and the Lion' and the 2020 'Three Graces' and, now the beautiful 1847 Gothic Crown which is to be released in 2 parts, the 1st showing the original reverse design and the 2nd due early in 2022 featuring the obverse. All are Proof coins available in silver and gold versions. The coins released to date are some of the most sought after issues produced by the Royal Mint for many, many years with the latest 'Three Graces' coin selling out in less than 1 minute after going on sale to the public. Within hours of the launch these coins were trading for many times their initial sale price, causing collectors worldwide to question such low mintages with so many disappointed that even the lowest denomination two ounce silver version were simply out of their reach.
There is no doubt given the popularity of this series that we can expect more to follow, as this is a closely guarded secret by the Royal Mint we can only hazard a guess as to what these will be, although we are almost certainly likely to see works from Benedetto Pistrucci added to the collection.
Chief Engraver from 1828 until his death in 1851, many collectors consider William Wyon RA to be one of the finest artists to have ever worked on British coinage. Part of a dynasty, his uncle Thomas, cousin Thomas Junior and son Leonard all achieved prominence at The Royal Mint and his time here coincided with that of another highly acclaimed artist – Benedetto Pistrucci. This was a golden age for British numismatics fuelled by the intense rivalry of two very different characters. (Royal Mint description)
The Gothic Crown
The first of a 2 part coin release continuing the extremely popular Great Engravers series features the original reverse with the 5th head portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark on the obverse dated 2021. Unlike the original coins they have been reproduced with a milled edge. As is now usual with the Great Engravers series all coins in the release sold out within an hour of going on sale. Part 2 featuring the original Gothic portrait obverse will follow early in the new year and will no doubt be just as sought after.
William Wyon Chief Engraver from 1828 until his death in 1851 was probably at the very peak of his career when he produced the 1847 Gothic Crown. Considered to be one of the most beautiful coins ever produced, the design features a Gothic Portrait of Queen Victoria dressed in an ornate lace gothic style dress. A style that Victoria was very fond of, as it enjoyed a revival in the early Victorian period. The Latin legends translate on obverse as "Victoria by the Grace of God, Queen of the Britain's, Defender of the Faith,".
The reverse is no less subdued featuring a crowned cruciform of shields, emblems in angles, garter star in the centre, with the date in roman numerals in lower right of the legend. Just 8000 were issued in 1847 with the edge inscription 'undecimo' which translates in English to 'Eleventh' this is to mark Victoria's 11th year of reign. The Latin legend translates to "May God guard these united, in the year of our Lord 1847."
The Three Graces
The original coin was a 1817 Pattern Crown inspired by Antonio Canova’s statue 'The Three Graces' which depict the daughters of Zeus, the Greek God of Sky and Thunder. The three daughters were said to represent 'Beauty' (Thalia), mirth (Euphrosyne), and elegance (Aglaea), this is the order in which they appear on William Wyon's masterful recreation of the statue. The original statue now resides in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg Russia.
Coins from this series are remastered and worked from the original hand carved dies, the original dies have been reproduced using laser scanning technology, a technique that William Wyon himself could only have dreamt of. Then tiny imperfections present in the original works are corrected to form the new dies from which these beautiful coins are struck. Its fair to say we will see more releases in the Great Engravers series, and that they will all be extremely sought after.
Una and the Lion
The original £5 coin engraved by William Wyon was part of 300 examples struck for inclusion in the Queen Victoria Coronation sets of 1839. The coin features a young head design of Queen Victoria on the obverse, but of course the main feature is the reverse design of Una standing along side a fearsome lion. The date 1839 is depicted in roman numerals MDCCCXXXIX, along with the legend in Latin : DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS which translates to “May God direct my steps", making this one of the worlds most beautiful coins.
The inspiration for the design comes from a sixteenth-century poem by Edmund Spenser 'The Faerie Queen'. In the poem, Una is the beautiful young daughter of a king and queen who have been imprisoned by a ferocious dragon. Una undertakes a quest to free her parents, but on her journey she encounters a fierce lion. The lion is so captivated by Una’s innocence and beauty that he abandons his plan to eat her, and vows instead to become her protector and companion.
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