20 Feb 2014
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‘What is a guinea? ‘Tis a splendid thing.’ So reads the edge inscription of this homage to one of Britain’s most famous coins. The guinea has not been struck for more than 200 years, yet it retains its place in our hearts. As we celebrate the 350th anniversary of the first guinea, we honour this most splendid of coins with a very special tribute on a UK £2 coin.
The guinea is a coin steeped in romance. Even its name speaks of faraway lands that most could hardly imagine when it was named for the Guinea Coast: the land that gave much of its gold, identified by the elephant mark of the Africa Company that can often be seen next to the obverse portrait on early guineas.
200 years after its last striking we also celebrate its first: 2013 sees the coin’s 350th anniversary. This 2013 commemorative coin brings the guinea to life anew, with a reverse design by sculptor Anthony Smith that evokes the famed 1787 spade-guinea of George III, named for the humble garden tool that its crowned shield resembles. The spade-guinea was minted for just 13 years and was sought after – reportedly by the lady customers of country bankers.
It will be sought after once more. The guinea is a firm favourite with collectors, who will be excited to add this piece of its history to their collections. Particularly coveted will be this double thickness Piedfort £2 coin, struck in sterling silver and rimmed with fine gold as a most impressive tribute to one of the world’s most famous coins.
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