The government and treasury of St. Helena, in association with the East India Company, have launched (10th June) a new collector series of gold and silver Proof-quality coins which will feature some of the coin-collecting world’s most desirable designs. Entitled “The Masterpiece Collection,” the series begins with perhaps one of the best known trial crown coin designs, William Wyon’s The Three Graces.
William Wyon (1795–1851) is today widely regarded as one of history’s great coin and medal designers. Along with Benedetto Pistrucci, he is perhaps the defining engraver of the 19th century.
Born in England in 1795, Wyon’s father was an engraver of medals and coins, his uncle was a die engraver, and his cousin Thomas was chief engraver of the Royal Mint from 1815 until his untimely death in 1817. So it was perhaps inevitable that young William would also pursue a career in the coin and medal industry.
Wyon’s design precisely captured the contemporary rebirth of interest in the classics to cleverly tell the story of a recent landmark moment in history which was The Act of Union in 1801. This act legally solidified the union which had existed between England and Scotland since the accession of King James VI of Scotland to the English throne as James I in 1603. This legislation also clarified the earlier Act of Union in 1707, which created the Kingdom of Great Britain.
Wyon’s design was very symbolic of this new geopolitical creation. At the feet of the three sisters, Wyon added a harp to represent Ireland, a shield bearing the flag of St. George representing England, and an oversized thistle representing Scotland. He decorated their crowns with shamrocks, roses, and further thistles with these national symbols. Around the entwined Graces is the motto Foedus Inviolabile, meaning “unbreakable league,” and a message of hope for the strength and opportunity created by this new union that exists to this day. Unfortunately for Wyon, his exquisite design did not win the competition and never went into production. Fortunately for avid coin collectors and numismatists, around 50 pattern pieces were produced, which became desirable collectors’ items as Wyon’s reputation flourished. He is, of course, most remembered for what can only be described as a numismatic classic which has remained a favourite with coin collectors the world over. Wyon’s iconic depiction of the young Queen Victoria as the “Faerie Queen” on the 1839-dated Una and the Lion gold five-pound pieces is recognised as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck. It is also a favourite with the East India Company as a theme for gold bullion and collectable pieces.
Issued under the authority of the treasury of St. Helena, William Wyon’s The Three Graces has been painstakingly recreated on the reverse while also utilising the best of modern and traditional minting techniques. As with Wyon’s original design, the inscription FOEDUS INVIOLABILE is placed around The Three Graces — one word seen on each side. The privy mark of the East India Company is also included and can be found just to the left of the primary design. The obverse side includes the Commonwealth effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II created by British engraver Jody Clark. The denomination of the coin, 5 POUNDS (1 or 2 POUNDS silver), and year of issue, 2021, are placed just under the Queen’s likeness with the issuing authority ST HELENA shown as part of the legend surrounding the effigy.
|One pound||.999 Silver||31.1 g||38.6 mm||Proof||3,000|
|Two pounds||.999 Silver||62.2 g||45 mm||Proof||2,500|
|Five pounds||.925 Silver||27.4 g||39.8 mm||Proof||1,817|
|Five pounds||.9999 Gold||31.1 g||32 mm||Proof||400|
|Five pounds||.9999 Gold||62.2 g||45 mm||Proof||250|
|Five pounds||.9167 Gold||52.45 g||39.8 mm||Proof||200|
Each gold and silver Proof option is encapsulated and presented in a bespoke case along with a numbered certificate of authenticity. For additional information about The Three Graces “Masterpiece” series, please visit the website of the East India Company.
Dispatches for Three Graces Crown Pattern gold and silver Proof coins commence on the 24th June 2021