Royal Mint unveiled 2021 gold sovereigns
- December 06, 2020
The Royal Mint launched its collection of gold sovereigns with yearmark 2021, celebrating the Queen’s 95th birthday.
The edge of the coin is rimed with 95 striations, a change from the edge normally used on Elizabeth II’s gold sovereign. The 95 striations represent the Queen’s 95th birthday, one striation for each year.
The 2021 gold sovereign will also carry a privy mark, a Royal Crown with the number 95 inserted in the crown.
Born on April 21, 1926, the Queen celebrates her 95th birthday in 2021. Currently, she is the longest-serving head of state in the world and the longest-serving monarch in British history.
During the 19th century, the Sovereign coin was known as “the masterpiece of the world”.
The Sovereign of 2021 retains the drawing of St. George and the dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci which has appeared on British gold sovereigns since 1817. This drawing is considered as one of the greatest works of art in modern British numismatics.
Who is Benedetto PISTRUCCI?
Benedetto Pistrucci (Rome 1784 – Windsor 1855) had acquired the reputation of a gemstone and metal engraver of exceptional talent. He was the medallist of Napoleon I family in Italy.
B. PISTRUCCI at the end of his life – Source: Royal Mint Museum
His fame spread beyond the borders and he was invited to come to England by the Prince Regent, son of king George III. He settled in London in 1815.
During his stay in London, Pistrucci is introduced to William Wellesley Pole, the Master of the Mint. Pole commissioned him to create designs for George III’s new gold and silver coins. Pistrucci also engraved the numismatic portrait of the Prince Regent when he became George IV. He was the principal engraver of the Royal Mint, until 1818.
He is probably best known for his Waterloo Medal and his “St George and the Dragon”, which was created for the new gold sovereign in 1817.
Waterloo medal engraved by B. PISTRUCCI
In fact, St. George of Pistrucci’s design was so popular that it was also used for the gold five-pound coin and silver crowns during the reign of George IV.
After creating these medals, Pistrucci chose to make England his adopted country and spent most of the rest of his life there.
He died at his home near Windsor on September 16, 1855.
The genesis of the drawing “St George and the dragon”
During his stay in London, Pistrucci was introduced to Lady Spencer who inspired him to create his most famous work. Lady Spencer showed him a model of Saint George and asked him to make another one “in the Greek style”.
Lady Spencer wanted something different from the traditional image of Saint George dressed in medieval gothic armor.
Legend has it that while Pistrucci was working on Lady Spencer’s commission, he suggested that Saint George would be an appropriate subject for the new British coin.
The idea appealed to William Wellesley Pole, chief engraver of the Royal Mint, who decided that the patron of England would make the perfect reverse side for the new gold coin.
1817 PISTRUCCI’s first gold Sovereign
For a sum of 100 guineas, Pistrucci provides a cameo in St. George’s jasper, using an Italian servant as a model. The resulting design combines grace with dramatic impact and, to this day, experts consider it a masterpiece of numismatics.
Sources: Royal Mint Museum, Royal Mint and NUMISMAG.