The Royal Mint is about to unleash a new beast into its bullion program.
The Red Dragon of Wales is the third subject in the Royal Mint’s
Queen’s Beasts silver and gold bullion program. The quarter- and
1-ounce .9999 fine gold coins and 2-ounce .9999 fine silver coin will
be available to purchase directly from the Royal Mint in mid-March.
The Queen’s Beasts coin series celebrates 10 creatures that have
featured throughout hundreds of years of British royal heraldry. The
series is designed by Wales-based Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark,
best known as the creator of the Queen’s most recent official effigy
that appears not only on the obverse of these bullion coins, but on
all UK circulating and commemorative coinage as well.
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The bullion designs are being introduced one “beast” at a time. The
Red Dragon of Wales is the latest in the collection, and follows the
launches of the Lion of England (March 2016), and Griffin of Edward
III (November 2016).
According to the Royal Mint, Clark researched the origins of
heraldry and coats of arms, because he “wanted to replicate the sense
of strength and courage the beasts were designed to convey.” He said,
“I created a sense of movement to make the beasts bold and dynamic,
but the shields they guard still feature strongly as they are integral
to the story.”
Red Dragon of Wales
Dragons are one of the best known mythical beasts, found in legends
all over the world.
A reference to dragons in Wales came as early as the sixth century.
The Red Dragon of the Queen’s Beasts was an emblem of Owen Tudor, a
claim to Welsh heritage that was carried forward by his son, who would
become Henry VII. The troops of Henry VII carried a fiery red dragon
standard at the Battle of Bosworth, when Henry secured the crown of England.
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The dragon emblem is red, but with a yellow underbelly and it holds
a quartered red and gold shield with leopards, the arms of Llywelyn ap
Griffith, the last native Prince of Wales. In Europe, the dragon was
seen as a frightening creature, but strong, wise and powerful.
Inspiration for this series is taken from the Queen’s Beasts
sculptures, each standing about 2 meters tall, originally created by
James Woodford for the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II held
in Westminster Abbey in 1953.
The heraldic creatures symbolized the various strands of royal
ancestry brought together in the young woman about to be crowned
queen. Each beast, used as a heraldic badge by generations that went
before her, was inspired by the King’s Beasts of Henry VIII that still
line the bridge over the moat at his Hampton Court Palace.
Today, the Queen’s Beasts are at the Canadian Museum of History in
Quebec, while Portland stone replicas, also carved by Woodford, watch
over Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom.
The silver £5 coin weighs 32.42 grams and measures 38.61 millimeters
The quarter-ounce gold £25 coin weighs 7.8 grams and measures 22
millimeters in diameter.
The 1-ounce gold £100 coin weighs 31.21 grams and measures 32.69
millimeters in diameter.
All three coins are available individually; the silver and 1-ounce
gold coins are also available in tubes of 10 coins, and the
quarter-ounce gold coin is available in a tube of 25 coins.
Further details of the Royal Mint’s bullion programs are available
at its dedicated website, where registrants can sign up to receive
alerts when new products are available.