Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion, Coin from United Kingdom - detailed information

Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion, Coin from United Kingdom (demonetised 1971)
CoinFive Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion

This coin is known as the Una and the Lion Five Pound piece.

The design was derived from a poem, The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser in praise of Queen Elizabeth I published in 1590. In that poem Una is the personification of the "True Church" and also representative of Truth. At one she point tames a lion by her beauty and honesty; the lion then travels with her both as a guard and to undertake deeds.

On the coin, by William Wyon, Una is Queen Victoria. She is wearing a crown and guiding the lion with her sceptre while holding an orb.

It is a classic of the Victorian Age in both style and sentiment, and one of master engraver William Wyon's masterpieces, with a modest mintage in the hundreds. It was only minted on demand from the time it first appeared in the Coronation sets, only in Proof grade.

MintRoyal Mint Mint MarkNo mint mark Total Mintage400
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Obverse
United Kingdom / Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion - obverse photo

Head of Queen Victoria facing to left; around, VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:; raised on base of neck, W.WYON, R.A.

Obverse Inscription VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:
Reverse
United Kingdom / Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion - reverse photo

The reverse shows the figure of Queen Victoria standing, robed and crowned, holding and orb in her left hand and directing a lion to left, with a sceptre extended in her right hand.

Around, the inscription DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS. (translated from Latin: May the Lord direct my steps; some coins say DIRIGIT instead of DIRIGE - The Lord directs my steps).

In exergue, the date of issue in Latin numerals: MDCCCXXXIX. (1839).

Around below, the artist's name W. WYON R.A. (R.A. is the post-nominal for Royal Academician, i.e. an academician of the Royal Academy of Arts in London).

Reverse Inscription DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS. MDCCCXXXIX.
EdgeInscribed (raised lettering)Edge InscriptionDECUS ET TUTAMEN. ANNO REGNI TERTIO.
Notes

Most coins have the DIRIGE legend. Even though Spink explicitly lists the type as "Proof only", these and some other varieties are not valued as proofs in the catalogue valuations.

The "ordinary" coins (i.e. not a "variety") are taken to be those described by Spink as "DIRIGE legend, plain edge" [NOT proof].

Although these coins were released as Proof FDC only, Spink remarks that "Truly FDC 1839 Five Pound coins are hardly ever encountered."

See also

The reverse design was re-issued in 2019 as part of the “Great Engravers" coin series, in several formats:
- Silver Two Ounces, face value £5
- Gold Two Ounces, face value £200
- Gold Five Ounces, face value £500
- Gold Kilo, face value £1,000
- Gold Two Kilos, face value £2,000
- Gold Five Kilos, face value £5,000

Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion: Known varieties
Variety DIRIGIT legend, inscribed edge, not proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Details

Coin alignment.

Variety DIRIGIT legend struck on thick flan, not proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Variety DIRIGIT legend, plain edge, not proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Details

Coin alignment.

Variety DIRIGE legend, 13 leaves to rear fillet, proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Variety DIRIGE legend, plain edge, proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Variety DIRIGE legend, 9 leaves to rear fillet, not proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Variety DIRIGIT legend, plain edge, proof
Mintage Issued: unknown
Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion: References to Information Used
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Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion: Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Coin TypeFive Pounds (Pre-decimal)
Issued1839
MonarchQueen Victoria
EffigyQueen Victoria - Portrait by William Wyon (Young Head)
Face Value5 (x Pound)
Total Mintage400
CurrentNo; demonetised 1971
Material0.9167 Gold
DesignerWilliam Wyon
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
Size36.000 mm
Mass39.940 g
OCC IDNRWK-ZOJN-CRLL-OXGL
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Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion: Photos
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Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
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Pattern Coin - 5 Pounds, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1839
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
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Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
Copyright: CoinFactsWiki / CC BY-SA
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Great Britain 1839 5 pounds
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Five Pounds 1839 Una and the Lion: Catalogue Reference IDs
SourceReference ID
Friedberg, Gold Coins of the WorldGreat Britain 243 (Lettered edge) and 244 (Plain)
Krause, Standard Catalog of World CoinsGreat Britain KM# 742
Spink, Coins of England and the United Kingdom3851