Royal Mint Launches Queen’s Beasts
The Royal Mint of the United Kingdom (www.royalmint.com) has launched an intriguing new series of bullion coins called the Queen’s Beasts, “ten creatures that have featured throughout hundreds of years of British royal heraldry. The series will be introduced a ‘beast’ at a time, starting with the gallant Lion of England, by British coin designer Jody Clark,” according to a March 29 press release from the Mint.
There are three versions of the first release, the lion, including the Mint’s first 2-ounce silver coin, which carries a 5-pound denomination coin; a 25-pound, one quarter-ounce gold piece, and a 100 pound, 1-ounce gold coin. Mintages will be unlimited.
These coins will be sold by the mint’s bullion department (www.royalmintbullion.com) to UK buyers and by bullion dealers around the world. U.S. dealer, A Mark, is a distributor for the coins, and I have seen them for sale at APMEX and JM Bullion as well as on eBay. Other dealers will soon carry them too.
So far only the gold coin has been released, and premiums are comparable to those for American Gold Eagles and other major world gold bullion issues.
Initial reaction from buyers has been very positive, especially because of the striking design of a growling lion on top of a heraldic coat of arms, which symbolizes “the various strands of royal ancestry brought together in a 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.”
The inspiration for the series is a series of ten sculptures that are each ten meters tall created for the 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth, which now reside in the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec.
Since many buyers are unable to afford one-ounce gold pieces, there is considerable interest in the silver and smaller gold coins provided that premiums are reasonably low. I expect all three to be popular in the UK and around the world.
The designer, Jody Clark, is best known as the artist who created the current fifth effigy of the Queen that began to appear on UK coins last year, and as the designer of the widely-admired 2014 proof Britannia coins with an art deco kind of design that is without question the most popular in the proof Britannia series.
Clark explained his work on the news series this way: “I took inspiration from the original Queen’s Beasts, both the original versions in Canada and the Portland Stone replicas here that look out over Kew Gardens. They are very stylized and look imposing as statues, but the challenge was to capture this on the surface of a coin.”
“I researched the origins of heraldry and coats of arms, and wanted to replicate the sense of strength and courage they were designed to convey. 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.”
This new series is the third major Royal Mint bullion coin series after the sovereign and Britannia coins, or the fourth if one also counts the Lunar calendar series.