The guinea: first struck 350 years ago, and last struck at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Despite its absence, it has never been forgotten. Celebrated in literature, still quoted when an elegant price is called for, and still desired by collectors, the guinea is simply one of the most famous British coins. And as a fitting tribute, a £2 coin has been struck for its anniversary celebrations.
The anniversary of such an esteemed coin deserves to be marked. And in creating his reverse design for this £2 coin, sculptor Anthony Smith has paid special tribute by recalling one of the most recognised guineas: the spade-guinea. Struck for just 13 years from 1827, the coin bore a crowned shield with the Royal Arms of George III, but was said to resemble the ordinary garden spade. This fact did not diminish its appeal, for it was sought out in its day, reportedly requested by the female clients of country bankers.
The beautiful design is sure to be sought after once more. Smith has remodelled the Arms of Queen Elizabeth II in a similar vein – and collectors will note that, most unusually, this is one of six renderings of the Royal Arms that appear on the 2013 commemorative coins; a range which also features tributes to the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
This astounding tribute to a historic coin recalls the guinea’s golden origins, for the sterling silver has been rimmed with fine gold.