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 III of the United Kingdom (1738 - 1820).
George III (George William Frederick) was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of the two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death. He was concurrently Duke and prince-elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg ("Hanover") in the Holy Roman Empire until his promotion to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814. He was the third British monarch of the House of Hanover, but unlike his two predecessors he was born in Britain, spoke English as his first language, and never visited Hanover.
His life and reign, which were longer than any other British monarch before him, were marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms, much of the rest of Europe, and places farther afield in Africa, the Americas and Asia. Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in the Seven Years' War, becoming the dominant European power in North America and India. However, many of Britain's American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary War. Further wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France from 1793 concluded in the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
In the later part of his life, George III had recurrent, and eventually permanent, mental illness. Although it has since been suggested that he had the blood disease porphyria, the cause of his illness remains unknown. After a final relapse in 1810, a regency was established, and George III's eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, ruled as Prince Regent. On George III's death, the Prince Regent succeeded his father as George IV.
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. Over time "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.
Under George III, the first of the East India Company Regulating Acts was passed.By the beginning of the 1800’s expensive wars and administration had strained the company’s finances, forcing it to turn to the crown for financial assistance. Parliament and the crown established substantial control over the East India Company. Company land was formally recognised as being under the control of the crown. The governor general of Bengal, Warren Hastings, was awarded administrative powers over all of British India. The Charter Act of 1813 revoked the company’s precious monopoly, except for tea and trade with China.
The portrait of King George III on the coin is taken from the 1797 “cartwheel” penny. In the background, the coat of arms of the company and the spade guinea motif represent the struggle between the company and crown over control of the East India Company.