April 28, 2016 – The Royal Mint has expanded its world-respected bullion portfolio with the addition of gold and silver coins celebrating 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.
The Lion One Ounce Fine Gold Bullion Coin: Great Britain / GBP 100 / 999.9 gold / 31.12g / 32.69mm / Design: Jody Clark.)
Head of Bullion Sales, Nick Bowkett said: “The introduction of The Queen’s Beasts series brings an exciting new series of bullion coins to investors around the globe. With the current range consisting of 1oz and 1/4oz gold coins, the series also sees the introduction of our first two-ounce 999.9 pure silver bullion coin.”
Bearing Her Majesty The Queen’s Fifth portrait, also by Jody Clark, the new coins take their place in The Royal Mint’s core bullion range alongside the organisation’s flagship gold Sovereign and gold and silver Britannia bullion coins, as well as the Royal Mint Refinery range of gold and silver bars, offering one complete bullion solution.
About the design
Inspiration for this series has been taken from The Queen’s Beasts sculptures, each standing at around 2 metres tall, originally created by James Woodford RA for the coronation ceremony of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II held in Westminster Abbey in 1953.
The original Queen’s Beasts in the Canadian Museum of History. Photo: shankar s. / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en
The heraldic creatures symbolised the various strands of royal ancestry brought together in a young woman about to be crowned queen. Each beast, used as an 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.
Today, The Queen’s Beasts can be found at the Canadian Museum of History in Quebec, while Portland stone replicas, also carved by James Woodford, watch over Kew Gardens in the UK.
The Lion of England is the first of the beasts to be introduced for this new bullion coin series. Royal Arms are the arms of the monarch, an ancient device that represents their sovereignty.
The Lion Quarter-Ounce Fine Gold Bullion Coin: Great Britain / GBP 25 / 999.9 gold / 7.80g / 22.00mm / Design: Jody Clark.
For the arms that represent Queen Elizabeth II and the United Kingdom, two beasts are shown supporting a quartered shield, the Scottish Unicorn and the English Lion. The crowned golden Lion of England has been one of the supporters of the Royal Arms since King James I came to the throne in 1603, but the symbol of a lion has stood for England far longer. Richard the Lion-heart, son of King Henry II, is famed for his three golden lions as the Royal Arms of England, and since the twelfth century, lions have appeared on the coat of arms of every British sovereign.
Jody Clark is a member of The Royal Mint’s team of graphic designers and engravers. Jody has worked on notable projects such as the medals struck to celebrate the 2014 Ryder Cup and Nato Summit, whilst his contemporary interpretation of the iconic Britannia was chosen for the celebrated coin’s 2014 collection.
The Lion Two-Ounce Fine Silver Bullion Coin: Great Britain / GBP 5 / 999.9 silver / 62.42g / 38.61mm / Design: Jody Clark.
Jody is best known for creating the latest definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen, released on United Kingdom coins in 2015, which features on these bullion coins.
In turning his talents to the reverse designs for The Queen’s Beast’s Bullion Range, Jody said: “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 stylised 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.
“The lion in my design takes a rampant stance, the most fierce. I researched imagery of lions in the wild to make sure that mine had a true likeness to the creature’s character, but I was careful that it wasn’t too realistic. In this context the lion is a ‘beast’ and I wanted it to feel fantastical, so when it came to areas like the eyes I kept them blank. Adding too much detail softened the look and I think this way there is still a sense of sculpture reflecting the originals.”
The Queen’s Beasts bullion coins will be exclusively available in the UK from The Royal Mint Bullion.
Here you can read how the Queen’s Beast were prepared for a major exhibition in 2012.
And in this quiz you can prove how well informed you are about the Queen’s heraldry.