300th Anniversary of the Coronation of King George I | The Royal Mint

01 Sep 2014

The Royal Mint is to commemorate the 300th Anniversary of the Coronation of King George I with the release of a 2014 Alderney £5 coin in Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver Proof and Gold Proof finishes.

Unlike the national celebrations held for the coronations of other monarchs, King George’s coronation was conducted in an understated manner due to the political unease abounding at the time. The death of Queen Anne on 1 August 1714 had left the country without a direct heir, her closest blood relative being the Catholic James Stuart, son of the overthrown James II, but the Act of Settlement passed in 1701 negated accession by a person of the Roman Catholic faith in order to ensure a Protestant ruler.

It had been expected that Anne would be succeeded by Sophia, Electress of Hanover. She, however, had died just two months earlier, and her eldest son George, Elector of Hanover, inherited the throne instead. As King George I, he brought the Stuart dynasty to a close as the Hanoverian era began.

George’s coronation ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey on 20 October 1714, and much of it had to be conducted in Latin, as the German-speaking George spoke little English and his ministers spoke little German.

This new coin features a bold design by Emma Noble, a Royal Mint engraver, who found designing this reverse an enjoyable challenge. Emma explained: “King George wasn’t known for being outspoken so there were few quotes directly from him to gain an insight into his personality - only what the history books have written, and they were quite mixed reviews. I used portraits to inspire my design, so it was a challenge working from other people’s interpretations of him. One continual theme was the ‘periwig’, so that features prominently in my design. Every curl was a labour of love! King George reigned during the fixing of the value of the guinea, a significant change to the coinage, so I wanted to include the quarter-guinea in my design with the obverse bearing George’s name and the reverse showing the Royal Arms of the time.”

Notes on the King’s Coinage For nearly the whole of the King’s reign, Sir Isaac Newton was Master of The Royal Mint. Known as the ‘great mind’ who had a passion for maintaining and furthermore improving The Royal Mint’s reputation for integrity and accuracy, his enormous stature as a scientist raised the profile of The Mint. His concern for accuracy ensured that the coins of George I could be considered the best made coins in the world.

It was a consequence of a famous report by Newton that in 1717 the value of the guinea at last became fixed at the familiar figure of 21 shillings. The following year the gold coinage was extended by a new coin, the quarter-guinea, which was intended to relieve a worsening shortage in the circulation of silver coins. It was intended as a convenient denomination and a substitute for the five shilling silver crown, and had a value set at 5s 3d (five shillings and three pence). Fewer than 40,000 of the coins were struck in 1718, but received an unenthusiastic welcome and no more were struck throughout George’s reign. Minting of the coin resumed in 1762. The quarter-guinea bore John Croker’s portrait of King George I on its obverse, while the reverse was decorated with a cruciform arrangement of the Royal Arms device which features in Royal Mint engraver Emma Noble’s reverse design for this 2014 commemorative coin.

During King George’s reign The Royal Mint continued the practice of encouraging people to bring gold and silver bullion to The Mint for coining by placing special provenance marks on the coins to indicate the source of the bullion from which they were made. Thus when the infamous South Sea Company chose to deposit some silver bullion, the resulting coins of 1723 included the letters SSC on the reverse.

It was also in the reign of George I, after Newton had agonised over questions of purity, that The Royal Mint resumed the minting of copper farthings and halfpennies following an interval of several years.

Notes on the Designer Emma gained a degree in Illustration at Swansea University before joining The Royal Mint in 1997, since when she has worked on several significant coin designs, including the £5 coin issued in 2012 to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Emma was the creator of the poignant reverse image for the Remembrance coins of 2012 and 2013 and her designs reflect her background in illustration - always highly stylised with beautiful, intricate details.

 

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