The Royal Mint has launched (10th December) a 2013 UK £2 coin to mark the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the first striking of the Guinea coin. This is a UK coin first, as the anniversary of a circulation coin is celebrated on another.
The unusual name for this coin came from the Guinea region in West Africa, where much of the gold used to make the coins originated from. The Guinea enjoyed a rich history as the principal British gold coin issued from 1663 until the end of the Napoleonic wars. Originally struck as a 20-shilling or one pound coin, the Guinea’s value fluctuated with the price of gold, reaching some 30 shillings by the reign of William and Mary at the end of the 17th century. The Guinea was also the first English machine-struck gold coin, with its final year of production being 1815 when the United Kingdom officially adopted the Gold Standard and the dominant gold coin became the Sovereign from 1816.
The new commemorative coin, which is designed by sculptor Anthony Smith ARBS, is inspired by the heraldic shield of the Royal Arms used on the well-known Spade Guinea reverse design from the 1798 Gold Guineas that includes the once-used Hanoverian crest included on British coinage since 1714 upon the accession of King George I – the Hanoverian reference can clearly be seen towards the lower right quarter. The obverse includes the current portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II which was designed by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS and in use on British & Commonwealth coinage since 1998. The edge inscription “WHAT IS A GUINEA? ‘TIS A SPLENDID THING” is taken from a collection of odes and lyrics by Stephen Kemble from 1809.
The bi-metalic coin which is the UK’s largest denomination in circulation is struck in FDC quality with a cupro-nickel center and a nickel-brass outer ring with a combined weight of 12 grams and a diameter of 28.4 mm. The Royal Mint will produce this commemorative coin in precious metals of Gold and silver later on in the year and will make them available at that time. For more information on this and other coins for 2013, please visit their website at: www.royalmint.com International orders fulfilled.