Great Britain 5 Pounds Gold Coin 1839 Queen Victoria "Una and the Lion"

Great Britain 5 Pounds Gold Coin 1839 Queen VictoriaGreat Britain 5 Pounds Gold Coin 1839 Queen Victoria "Una and the Lion"

Great Britain 5 Pounds Gold Coin 1839 Queen Victoria "Una and the Lion"

The so-called Una and the Lion is a British £5 gold coin minted in 1839 depicting Queen Victoria. Designed by William Wyon in 1839, to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign (in 1837), it is now recognized as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck. Interestingly enough, Una and the Lion is the lightest of the British £5 coins, weighing 38.7–39.3 grams.

The obverse depicts a young portrait of Victoria's head facing left, surrounded by the Latin phrase VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D: -- "Victoria by the Grace of God, Queen of the British Territories, Defender of the Faith".

The reverse displays a depiction of Queen Victoria walking to the left of a lion. She is holding a scepter in her right hand, a globe in her left. The Latin phrase DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS. -- "May the Lord direct my steps." is above, Roman numerals MDCCCXXXIX (1839) are below the base, W. WYON R.A. is at the rim. It is noted that the same Latin inscription appears on the 2012 Royal Mint £5 Crown, minted to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The depiction of the young Queen as Lady Una (a character from Edmund Spenser's epic poem "The Faerie Queene", first published in 1590) was seen at the time as a bold design decision as it was the first occasion when a British monarch had been depicted on a coin as a fictional character.

Country:   United Kingdom.
Year:       1839.
Value:      5 Pounds.
Metal:      Gold (.916).
Weight:    39.94 g.
Diameter: 38 mm.
Shape: Round.
References: KM# 742, Sp# 3851.

The Story of 'Una and the Lion' has its origins in the epic Poem 'The Faerie Queen' by the Elizabethan Poet Edmund Spenser, who intended it as an allegory of the Virgin Queen Elizabeth I. Una represents innocence, honour, chastity and truth. In the story, her moral impeccability and all-round wholesomeness saves her from being eaten by the Lion, who is so impressed by her loveliness that he becomes her protector instead of devourer. The imagery in this story and the virtues celebrated by the characters was considered to be an ideal way of representing the young Queen Victoria and the British Empire. The 'Una and the Lion' gold £5 proof is one of the most famous and sought-after British numismatic rarities, and commands high premiums when an example comes up for sale.

British Coins 1837-1901 Queen Victoria

Great Britain 5 Pounds Gold Coin 1839 Queen Victoria "Una and the Lion"