The Gold Guinea
The first guinea was struck in 1663. The gold guinea was undoubtedly the major British coin of the eighteenth century. It was born in the aftermath of the English Civil War when the republican issues were replaced with a more impressive coinage bearing the portrait of the newly restored King Charles II.
Romantically named ‘guinea’, since gold for coining was then supplied by the Royal African Company operating along the Guinea Coast, it was given a nominal value of 20 shillings. Its actual value fluctuated until finally stabilising, in 1717, at 21 shillings, a monetary unit used up until decimalisation in 1971.
The last guinea was struck in 1813, struck to pay the Duke of Wellington’s army in the Pyrenees, an issue that became known as the Military Guinea. All were originally struck for circulation – the earlier ones at The Royal Mint in the Tower of London and the final pieces at the new Royal Mint on Tower Hill – and so their weight may have been diminished slightly by wear; however, they are guaranteed to be in at least fine condition.
Here you can find a selection of historic coins from this era.