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Detailed information about Coin: Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only) from United Kingdom

Coin: Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only)
Description

This coin is known as the Una and the Lion Five Pound piece.

It was ultimately derived from a poem, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser in praise of Queen Elizabeth I published in 1590. In that poem Una is the personification of the "True Church" and also representative of Truth. At one she point tames a lion by her beauty and honesty; the lion then travels with her both as a guard and to undertake deeds.

On the coin, by William Wyon, Una is Queen Victoria. She is wearing a crown and guiding the lion with her sceptre while holding an orb.

It is a classic of the Victorian Age in both style and sentiment, and one of master engraver William Wyon's masterpieces, with a modest mintage in the hundreds. It was only minted on demand from the time it first appeared in the Coronation sets.

This large, glamorous type always makes the front cover of any auction catalog in which it appears.

CountryUnited Kingdom CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Face value5 (x Pound) TypeFive Pounds (Pre-decimal)
Year1839 CurrentNo (demonetised 1971)
Mintage400 (400)
Mints
NameMint markMintage
Royal Mint No mint mark 400 (400)
Material0.9167 Gold DesignerWilliam Wyon
MonarchQueen Victoria EffigyPortrait by William Wyon (Young Head)
Production technologyMilled (machine-made) ShapeRound
Size (mm)36 Thickness (mm)
Mass (g)39.9403
Obverse

Head of Queen Victoria facing to left; around, VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:; raised on base of neck, W.WYON, R.A.

Obverse inscription VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:
Reverse

Victoria standing holding orb in left hand and directing lion to left with sceptre extended in right hand; in exergue, MDCCCXXXIX / W.WYON R.A.; around, DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS (translation, May the Lord direct my steps; some coins say DIRIGIT instead of DIRIGE - The Lord directs my steps).

Reverse inscriptionDIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS. MDCCCXXXIX.
EdgeInscribed (raised lettering) Edge inscriptionDECUS ET TUTAMEN. ANNO REGNI TERTIO.
Notes

Most coins have the DIRIGE legend. Even though Spink explicitly lists the type as "Proof only", these and some other varieties are not valued as proofs in the catalogue valuations.

The "ordinary" coins (i.e. not a "variety") are taken to be those described by Spink as "DIRIGE legend, plain edge" [NOT proof].

Although these coins were released as Proof FDC only, Spink remarks that "Truly FDC 1839 Five Pound coins are hardly ever encountered."

Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Known varieties
VarietyMintageDetails
DIRIGIT legend struck on thick flan, not proof unknown
DIRIGIT legend, plain edge, not proof unknown (hover mouse for text)
DIRIGE legend, 13 leaves to rear fillet, proof unknown
DIRIGE legend, plain edge, proof unknown
DIRIGE legend, 9 leaves to rear fillet, not proof unknown
DIRIGIT legend, plain edge, proof unknown
DIRIGIT legend, inscribed edge, not proof unknown (hover mouse for text)
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Photos
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Photo Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
source
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Photo Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
source
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Photo Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
source
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Photo Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
Author:
source
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Catalogue Reference IDs
SourceReference ID
Friedberg, Gold Coins of the WorldGreat Britain 243 (Lettered edge) and 244 (Plain)
Krause, Standard Catalog of World CoinsGreat Britain KM# 742
Spink, Coins of England and the United Kingdom3851
Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): References to Information Used
SourceEditionAboutLinkNotes
Museums Victoria Collections 2016 Coin description link
Remick, Catalogue of British Commonwealth Coins 1971 Mint
Krause, Standard Catalog of World Coins 1971 Mintage
Spink, Coins of England and the United Kingdom Varieties All varieties
Friedberg, Gold Coins of the World 1965 Varieties Plain edge
Museums Victoria Collections 2016 Design link
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Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only): Some useful external links
Museums Victoria: Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839 Great Britain 1839 5 pounds - CoinFactsWiki
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List of all (11) coins of type: United Kingdom / Five Pounds (Pre-decimal)
Five Pounds 1820 (Pattern) Five Pounds 1826 (Proof only) Five Pounds 1831 (Pattern) Five Pounds 1839 (Proof only) Five Pounds 1887 Five Pounds 1893
Five Pounds 1902 Five Pounds 1911 (Proof only) Five Pounds 1937 Edward VIII (not released) Five Pounds 1937 (Proof only) Five Pounds 1953 (not released)