George II, Five Guineas, 1729
Item Reference: LM63824
George II (1727-60) Five Guineas, 1729 E.I.C, TERTIO, young laur. head l., E.I.C below, rev. crowned shield of arms (S.3664). Extremely Fine, lustrous and crisply struck on the important legends, with a charming and well-detailed portrait, rare. The East India Company, whose famous initials are displayed below the king’s portrait on this classic coin, was so heavily engaged in exporting silver to Asian outposts for trading purposes that by the mid-century almost no silver coined for homeland use remained within the country’s shores. The relatively new Bank of England (founded in 1694) complicated the shortage even more as it became the principal channel of turning in both silver and gold for re-coinage by the Royal Mint.The procedure facilitated a handy delay, or gap, between owners of the old money relinquishing their funds and receiving replacements. The bank thereby gained a float, a period of time when it possessed more and more money that was not its own, with which it could do business. The procedure also gave the bank increasing control over how much gold entered circulation or was rendered for commerce. The money, of course, was not issued by the bank but by the monarchy. Unlike his Germanic father, King George II lived in Britain and soon embraced English customs,securing the role of royalty for his family. He spoke perfect English and among his keenest interests was the military. He was also the last British monarch to personally lead troops in battle. His coins have become classics of numismatics, with several famed issues bearing distinctive hallmarks. Perhaps the boldest, and chronologically the first, was the series of gold coins marked on their dies with raised letters ‘E.I.C.’ prominently displayed under the king’s portrait. These initials stood for the East India Company, a London-based trading organization chartered in 1600 by Elizabeth I. It reached the peak of its influence and wealth during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, shortly into the reign of Queen Victoria, finally being dissolved in 1874. In the 1720s, though, its reach was expanding throughout present-day Asia into the Indian subcontinent; its full legal name was the Honourable East India Company. It traded for all sorts of commodities. Its owners were merchants of immense wealth as well as aristocratic backers. In time it came to rule vast regions of the Indian continent, maintaining control with its own private armies. The company issued a number of coins over many decades bearing its name and made from ore it supplied. The most historical and desirable of these now-famous coins were the large gold pieces represented by the coin offered here, along with others in the guinea series, all made from specie supplied to the Royal Mint by the company. It was a coin that made an impressive statement for all the world to read. While England became a rich nation during the reign of Elizabeth I, it was not a dominant player on the world scene until the 18th century, when its fleet of warships and its global trading companies turned the islands of Great Britain into an empire. In a manner of speaking, this splendid gold coin in effect served as an ‘announcement’ of the expansive, coming empire on which the sun would never set.