Precious Metals

Royal Mint announces red dragon bullion coins

The Royal Mint has unveiled designs for the third coin in its Queen’s Beasts silver and gold bullion coin series, starring the Red Dragon of Wales. The 2017 coins are due for release in mid-March.

Image courtesy of the Royal Mint.

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 in diameter.

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. 

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