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 James I (1566 - 1625).
James was King of Scotland as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 until his death. The kingdoms of Scotland and England were individual sovereign states, with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, though both were ruled by James in personal union.
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.
The success of the EIC’s first voyage delivered great profits and customs to the sovereign. King James renewed the company charter and instructed Sir Thomas Roe to secure trading rights with Mughal Emperor Jahangir, beginning official company trade with India. The distinctive reverse design of the second coin in the set features the portrait of James I, from his second coinage double crown, along with a cameo of Jahangir, inset on a background of the Rose Ryal pattern taken from James I coinage.
Within a beaded border, the reverse of the coin shows a crowned portrait of King James I of England, facing right; in the background, Mughal Emperor Jahangir,.
To the left of the portrait, 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 right, the inscription JAMES I - RENEWAL OF CHARTER, referring to the King's renewal of the charter of the East India Company.