Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces, Coin from United Kingdom - detailed information

Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces, Coin from United Kingdom (withdrawn 1971)
CoinCrown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces

The British Crown coin, the successor to the English Crown and the Scottish Dollar, came into being with the Union of the kingdoms of England and Scotland in 1707. As with the English coin, the value of the denomination was five shillings, or sixty pence.

Always a heavy silver coin weighing about one ounce, during the 19th and 20th centuries the Crown declined from being a real means of exchange to being a coin rarely spent and minted for commemorative purposes only. In that format it has continued to be minted, even following decimalisation of the British currency in 1971.

From time to time, some patterns were considered but not approved for actual minting and release into circulation, such as this one.

Created by the renowned engraver, William Wyon, early in his decorated career with the Royal Mint, the coin known as The Three Graces is a pattern for a Crown denomination produced late in the reign of King George III; it was never circulated but has earned a reputation for its attractive and symbolic reverse.

The Three Graces was struck in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo and the effective end of the Napoleonic wars. While the national mood was initially jubilant, decades of military and economic conflict had created fiscal troubles that could not be ignored. The British government desperately needed to stabilise the currency. The first step in this process was the Coinage Act of 1816; the law reintroduced silver coins and replaced the guinea (valued at 21 shillings) with a new gold sovereign (slightly lighter and valued at 20 shillings). This major turning point in monetary policy meant upheaval at the Royal Mint, then under Master of the Mint, William Wellesley-Pole. New coins would be needed fast and for their designs Wellesley-Pole turned to the circle of designers and engravers that included William Wyon.

The art world that Wyon was establishing himself in was dominated by neoclassicism. Its proponents were influenced by stories of Ancient Greece and Rome and the simple, symmetrical style they saw in artefacts, engravings and on their Grand Tours of Europe.

Only around 50 coins with the Three Graces pattern were ever struck, and only a few of those survive. One of three known gold specimens is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A silver example remained in the possession of the Wyon family, only coming to the market in 1962.

MintRoyal Mint Mint MarkNo mint mark Total Mintageunknown
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Obverse
United Kingdom / Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces - obverse photo

Within a beaded border, at its centre the obverse displays the laureate head of King George III facing right; the laurels in his head are tied with a ribbon, its two ends falling down near the neck but not reaching its base.

The engravers name W. WYON. appears below the truncation of the neck.

Around, the monarch's legend: GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIARUM REX F: D:; translated from Latin, George the Third, by the Grace of God, of the Britains King, Defender of the Faith (note that BRITANNIARUM is not abbreviated).

Below, the date of issue 1817.

Obverse Inscription GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIARUM REX F: D: 1817
Reverse
United Kingdom / Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces - reverse photo

Within a beaded border, the reverse features, from left to right, the female representations of Ireland, England and Scotland. They are identified by the implements at their feet - respectively a harp, a shield bearing the cross of St George and an oversized thistle; additionally, the also carry floral symbols in their crowns: shamrocks, roses and more thistles.

The engravers name W. WYON. is to the left of the harp.

England, (or maybe Britannia), is perhaps the elder sister, standing taller than the other women who look at her with affection. This is an idealised representation of the union between the three nations, formed as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801. Wales is not represented here, but then that would have disrupted the neat parallel with the three charities of Greek mythology.

The design owes much to Antonio Canova's famous statue, The Three Graces - hence the coin's nickname; however, the figures in the statue are naked while those on the coin are fully dressed, in Classical style.

The inscription around above, interrupted by the figures, reads FOEDUS INVIOLABILE (Inviolable League).

In the exergue, a crossed palm frond and a ship's rudder. The palm frond symbolises both victory - reminding of the recent victory at Waterloo - and peace. The ship's rudder is a symbol of the British maritime might.

Reverse Inscription FOEDUS INVIOLABILE
EdgeEdge Inscription
See also

- Wedgwood Jasperware Three Graces £5 coin, Tristan da Cunha, 2018

Coins in the 2020 Great Engravers series featuring The Three Graces:
- 5 oz Gold, The Three Graces, 2020
- 2 oz Gold, The Three Graces, 2020
- 5 oz Silver, The Three Graces, 2020
- 2 oz Silver, The Three Graces, 2020

Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces: Known varieties
Variety Gold Proof
Images United Kingdom / Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces / Gold Proof - obverse photo United Kingdom / Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces / Gold Proof - reverse photo
Mintage Issued: unknown. Rarity: R7 (Highest rarity possible, 3 or less examples known)
Details

Only three gold specimens of the "Three Graces" crown are said to have been struck; it was never intended for general circulation. The dies were painstakingly prepared so that the matte finish of the raised areas sets them apart from the brilliantly burnished background.

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Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces: Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Coin TypeCrown (Pattern)
Issued1817
MonarchKing George III
EffigyKing George III - Laureate Head by W. Wyon
Face Value5 (x Shilling)
Mintageunknown
MaterialSilver
DesignerWilliam Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
OrientationCoin Alignment (Axis 6)
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Crown Pattern 1817 The Three Graces: Photos
ImageDetails
Three Graces Crown Pattern - Gold
Copyright: Public Domain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Notes: Gold proof.
Source
Three Graces Crown Pattern - Gold
Copyright: Public Domain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Notes: Gold proof.
Source
Three Graces Crown Pattern
Copyright: Public Domain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source
Three Graces Crown Pattern
Copyright: Public Domain, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Source