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 quarter ounce (1/4 oz gold) format, usually denominated as £2.
This coin (denominated as £1 and slightly heavier than a quarter ounce) is part of The 2017 Empire Collection gold proof set issued by The East India Company, which features nine English monarchs, and is dedicated to King George II of Great Britain (1683 - 1760).
George II (George Augustus; German: Georg II) was King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) and Prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire from 11 June 1727 (O.S.) until his death. George was the last British monarch born outside Great Britain: he was born and brought up in northern Germany. In 1701, his grandmother, Sophia of Hanover, became second in line to the British throne after about 50 Catholics higher in line were excluded by the Act of Settlement, which restricted the succession to Protestants. After the deaths of Sophia and Anne, Queen of Great Britain, in 1714, his father George I, Elector of Hanover, inherited the British throne.
The Mint says about the set:
“Whosoever commands the sea, commands the trade, whosoever commands the trade of the world, commands the riches of the world and consequently the world itself.”
– Sir Walter Raleigh
From its very first voyage in January 1601, until it was dissolved and absorbed into the British Crown in 1874, The East India Company laid the foundation of the British Empire in the East. Overtime "The Company" rose to account for half of the world’s trade including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and bullion. It had its own army and navy, its stocks were central to London’s financial markets and at one point it ruled over 400 million people. Learn the story of the world’s most famous Company through its coins. The 2019 Empire Collection is a series of nine silver proof coins which tell the story of a band of merchants who created an Empire through the monopoly, privilege and power bestowed on them by the Monarchs that ruled.
Considered the most important event in the company’s history, the Battle of Plassey was a colossal victory even though the battle only lasted 40 minutes on June 23, 1757. It secured company rule in Bengal, the richest of all presidencies, laying the foundation for British rule in India. Sir Robert Clive rebuilt Fort William in Bengal as the company headquarters, which along with Fort St. George in Madras and Bombay Castle, demonstrated the supreme power of the British in India. Over the next few decades, the East India Company would become the single largest trading organisation in the world.
In this era, the ruling monarch was King George II, and the coin features his portrait from his 1758 silver shilling. Inset is an image of the Battle of Plassey medal issued by the Society for Promoting Arts and Commerce in 1758 to commemorate the victory.
Within a beaded border, the reverse of the coin shows the laureate and cuirassed bust of King George II of Great Britain, facing left. To the left, overlaid on an olive branch, a medal commemorating Robert Clive's victory at Plassey in 1757, bearing the inscriptions VICTORY · AT · PLASSY, CLIVE · COMMANDER, MDCCLVIII (1758) and SOC · P · A ·C (Society for Promoting Arts and Commerce).
This medal shows the figure of Victory bearing a trophy and palm branch, mounted upon an elephant. In Indian culture elephants have been symbols of imperial power and prestige since Alexander the Great's day. They are also important religious icons. Ganesh, the Hindu god of wisdom, has an elephant's head. Robert Clive and the British adopted this much-respected emblem. Elephants were also used as weapons by Indian armies. Their thick hides and protective armour made them extremely hard to kill or injure.
Elephants were used against Clive's forces at Plassey on 23 June 1757. That day, around 3,500 East India Company troops defeated an army of 50,000 under the French supported Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula. The outcome had been decided long before the soldiers came to blows. The aspirant to the Nawab's throne, Mir Jafar, had thrown in his lot with Clive. The result was that the wealthy province of Bengal passed into British hands. Mir Jafar, however, was soon sidelined. The Bengal treasury allowed the Company to strengthen its military might. It was transformed from a trading company into an imperial power.
Below the king's the portrait on the right, the EIC mint mark of the East India Company; the letters are separated by arrows radiating from the centre around which they are situated.
Around left, the inscription GEORGE II - THE BATTLE OF PLASSEY.