Like many other mints, the Royal Mint issues bullion coins in precious metals, having much higher intrinsic value than their face value. Most of these by tradition are measured in troy ounces of fractions thereof, but the mint also introduced metric coins measuring one kilogram of pure metal, then also two kilos (they are actually fractionally heavier as a whole, to account for the small amount of other metal in the alloy).
The 2 kg silver coins are denominated as One Thousand Pounds (£1,000), although their intrinsic (bullion) value is much higher than their face value. The coins vary in design depending on the occasion (they are "one-year" types usually issued in parallel with smaller denominations with the same reverse designs).
The coins are legal tender but are not intended for circulation. They are targeted at bullion investors or collectors who appreciate the special editions as pieces of art.
This coin is a modern re-interpretation of one of the world’s most beautiful coins, the iconic Una and the Lion Five Pound piece by William Wyon, issued in 1839 for inclusion in the first specimen coin sets of Queen Victoria's reign.
The obverse of the original showed the young portrait of Queen Victoria, also by Royal Mint engraver William Wyon (1795 - 1851). The reverse draws its theme from Edmund Spenser’s epic poem entitled the Faerie Queene, first published in 1590 during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and depicts the Queen as Una guiding the British lion. There is a powerful contrast between the restrained energy conveyed by the lion and the peace and grace of the standing figure of Una. The design is an unusual one for a British coin, being too medallic - but then, it was never intended for circulation.
The Royal Mint released this coin type on 25th November 2019 as the first gold and silver collector’s coins in a new collector series entitled the “Great Engravers", planned to highlight some of the Royal Mint’s great artisans who have made significant contributions to British coinage - many regarded as numismatic masterpieces.
This is the first coin in this format issued by the Royal Mint.