The Numismatic Guaranty Corporation has recently certified yet another British “Una and the Lion” coin. This time the coin in question received a grade of PF 65 Ultra Cameo, making it one of the finest known examples in the combined census reports of both NGC and PCGS.
The coin is a gold 5 Pound, dated 1839, and derives it's name from the reverse design that depicts a young Queen Victoria as the fictional Una character from the popular 16th century poem The Faerie Queene.
Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck the coin was designed by Royal Mint engraver William Wyon to celebrate the Queen's coronation two years prior.
The coin was originally issued only as a part of a special 15 coin specimen proof set to mark the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign. However, the bold design proved so popular, and the mint kept receiving requests for additional coins that more were minted to quell demand. As a result no official mintage figure is known for the coin. 300 proof sets were issued, but it is estimated today that around 400 of the 1839 5 sovereign coins were minted. A little over 60 of those are listed in the NGC and PCGS population reports.
This NGC graded Proof 65 Ultra Cameo coin is the latest addition to that and one of only a hand full of coins to have received any deep cameo or ultra cameo designation.
The obverse depicts the well loved young bust design for Queen Victoria. She is encircled by the obverse legend that reads : “VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:”. Which would translate as : Victoria by the grace of God, Queen of the British Realms and Defender of the Faith.
The reverse design depicts the young Queen Victoria, who ascended the throne at only age 18, stylised as the aforementioned Una wearing a flowing gown(or the equivalent thereof for Victorian England) holding a sceptre and orb. She is seen directing the actions of the British Lion, standing behind her. The legend includes the roman numerals for 1839 and to the top of the coin reads “DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS” which translates rather loosely as “May God guide my steps”.
Those were supposedly the first words that Queen Victoria spoke following her coronation, on June28, 1838. It is also a paraphrasing of the Bible passage, Psalms 119 verse 133 which reads :
“Direct my steps by Your word, And let no iniquity have dominion over me”(nkj).
This specific example of the Una and the Lion coin will be offered at auction as a part of the Premier Coinex Auction on September 22, 2017, in London hosted by Baldwin's of St. James's. The coin is expected to see fierce bidding with an estimated price of between £150 000 and £200 000.
Remarkable this will make it the second coin of it's kind to be offered on public auction within the same month. The first was a part of a complete 15 coin proof set, still housed in the original Mint packaging from 1839. The set was listed by Dix Noonan Webb(DNW) in their September 2017 premier auction and was sold for £264 000 or approximately US$360 000.