Saint Helena is a small island in the South Atlantic Ocean which is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The currency of the island is the Saint Helena pound, fixed at parity with the pound sterling. The island has authorised some private mints to issue coins under its jurisdiction, which come in a variety of sizes - including in the popular gold ounce (1 oz gold) format, denominated as £5.
This design is the first in The Faerie Queene collection of proof coins.
The Mint says about it:
The East India Company Collections is delighted to introduce The Faerie Queene, a new series of precious metal coins inspired by Edmund Spenser’s epic medieval poem. Taking inspiration from Edmund Spenser’s epic 16th Century poem, this exclusive new coin series will feature knights, princesses, mythical beasts and magical villains, their stories brought to life in a collection of illustrative designs by one of the world’s most celebrated coin artists, Joel Iskowitz.
This first coin in our series starts, as it should, at the beginning. Book One tells the story of The Redcrosse Knight and the quest he is given by The Faerie Queene on behalf of the lady Una; to rescue her parents from the captivity of an evil dragon. That legendary moment is beautifully captured in this exclusive new design by Joel Iskowitz, available now as a limited edition 1oz Silver Proof Coin, presented in a bespoke case alongside a booklet and certificate of authenticity.
First published in 1590, Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene is a classic work of medieval English literature. At over 36,000 lines long, its six books contain one of the longest poems in the English language, believed to be an allegory for the life of Queen Elizabeth I. The story begins with a beautiful princess called Una arriving at the court of Queen Gloriana. Una is carrying a suit of armour upon which is painted a red cross, and is seeking the help of a brave knight to rescue her parents from a wicked dragon. A young peasant boy, keen to prove his worth, volunteers for the task. Una tells the boy that he can try on the armour she carries and, if it fits, she will grant him his wish. Sure enough, it fits him as if it were tailor made. Because of the armour’s distinctive design, Queen Gloriana dubs him "The Redcrosse Knight" and Spenser’s epic story begins.
Redcrosse and Una set off to face the dragon, a legendary moment captured in elegant detail on this first coin in our new series.
The obverse of the coin depicts the crowned old bust of Queen Elizabeth II facing right, wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem crown worn for her Coronation (effigy known as the "Fifth Portrait" worldwide but "Sixth Portrait" in Australia, where the Queen's portrait by Vladimir Gottwald was fifth).
The Queen also wears the Coronation Necklace; originally made for Queen Victoria in 1858, it was also worn at the coronations (as Queen's Consort) of Queen Alexandra in 1902, Queen Mary in 1911 and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen mother) in 1937.
Unlike on British coinage, the effigy is "uncouped" (includes the Queen's shoulders). In small letters on the left, the artist's initials JC (for Jody Clark).
Running continuously around the rim is the monarch's legend, the date of issue and the face value: ELIZABETH II · D · G · REG · F · D · ST. HELENA · 2022 · 5 POUNDS ·. Translated from Latin: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith, Saint Helena.
The reverse design features the scene from The Faerie Queene poem by Edmund Spenser in which The Redcrosse Knight sets off for his quest. He is in horseback, armoured, wearing a helmet and carrying a large shield with a cross on it, his long sword hanging from the saddle. On the left, Princess Una seeing him off.
In the background, a castle and a dragon flying past overhead.
To the right of the knight, the EIC mint mark of the East India Company - the letters are separated by arrows radiating from the centre around which they are situated.
In the ground below, the designer's initials JI, for Joel Iskowitz.
In the rim around above left, the inscription THE FAERIE QUEENE.