gold sovereign replaced the gold guinea in the United Kingdom 200
years ago with the June 22, 1816, passage of the Great Re-Coinage Act.
mark the 2016 milestone, the modern firm using the name The East India
Company has issued in the name of St. Helena silver and gold collector
coins with historic guinea designs and modern designs inspired by history.
gold guinea became the pride of Britain during an era that lasted from
the Restoration of the Monarchy to the Napoleonic Wars, before being
replaced by the sovereign. American colonists would have been familiar
with the guinea, and the 1-guinea coin is also thought to have been
the basis for the American gold $5 half eagle, first minted in 1795.
Story of the Guinea
story of the guinea began in 1663 at the start of the Restoration of
the English monarchy. Charles II instructed his treasury to create a
new gold coinage to counter economic instability caused by civil war
and satisfy the need for a stable, reliable gold coin to fund the
expansion of international trade. King Charles II sought to implement
a new coinage based on a machine-struck method he witnessed while
exiled in France. Its value was to be £1.
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name “guinea” was initially a colloquial term and referred to the use
of gold provided by the Royal African Company, which undertook most of
its mining of gold and silver in the Guinea region of West Africa. The
name became widely used by the people of Britain, and by 1720, in the
reign of King George I, it was officially adopted as the name for the
gold £1 coin.
machine-struck coins were minted in large quantities and satisfied the
country’s demand for gold. The value of the guinea during the first 50
years fluctuated as the value of gold changed, until 1717 when Master
of the Mint Sir Isaac Newton fixed its value at 21 shillings (or £1.05
in decimal currency), with the adoption of the gold standard in Britain.
reputation for purity and accuracy allowed the guinea to become the
most acceptable trading commodity in Britain’s growing empire.
Eighteenth and 19th century East India Company ships would take the
guinea on a journey around the world as they traded in spices, tea and silk.
June 22, 1816, the 21-shilling guinea was finally superseded by the
sovereign (whose value was fixed at 20 shillings), as Britain faced
economic turmoil following the devastating Napoleonic Wars. However,
the legacy of the guinea remains, with horseraces and trading and
livestock auctions still using the term to award prestigious prizes,
quote auctioneers’ fees and name races.
modern East India Company on June 22 issued five 2016 gold guinea
commemoratives and two selectively gold-plated silver versions, with
the five gold versions each bearing different historic designs.
modern guinea features the Raphael Maklouf effigy of Queen Elizabeth
II on the obverse, beneath which is inscribed EIC as an homage to the
historic issues that were struck from gold mined by the East India
Company. This is the first time in Queen Elizabeth II’s reign that the
5-guinea and third-guinea coins have been minted under permission from
the Royal Household, according to EIC.
gold guinea is minted to exactly the same specification as the last
struck coin of its type to be used in circulation and features the
motif from that guinea, updated with frosted and polished sections. It
also bears a denomination based on the pounds-and-pence system.
2016 guineas are issued under the authority of St. Helena.
struck in Proof .999 fine silver are denominated 20-pence (1 ounce)
and 50-pence (5 ounces). The reverse design of both silver coins
features a motif inspired by the spade guinea.
five gold versions are denominated as quarter-, half-, third-, 1- and
quarter-guinea coin (20 pence) features the rose shield design from
the last quarter-guineas ever issued, those under King George III.
third-guinea piece (30 pence) features a royal crown, the only design
used on the denomination since introduction.
half-guinea (50 pence) features the garter design from the last
circulating half-guineas ever issued, under King George III — the new
shield of the Royal Arms.
guinea (£1 and 5 pence) features the spade design from the last
circulating guineas struck under King George III — a simplified shield
5-guinea (£5) coin features the shield design from the very last
5-guinea pieces struck under King George III — a single ornate shield
with quarters containing the arms of England and Scotland, France,
Hanover and Ireland.
gold coins are available in various options, singly and as part of
multicoin sets, with varying mintages.
five-coin set is limited to production of 100 sets total, each offered
three-coin set, with the 1-, half- and quarter-guinea, is limited to
production of 500 sets and retails for £1,495.
maximum of 2,016 examples of the 1-guinea coin are available
individually, retailing for £695.
total, 200 of the 5-guinea coins are available for individual purchase
for £2,495 each.
5-ounce silver coin has a mintage limit of 3,000 coins and retails for £395.
1-ounce silver coin is limited to mintage of 10,000 pieces and retails
World readers may receive free shipping by using the code CWGUINEA200.
details are available at the EIC website.