1893 Proof Five Pounds

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1893 Proof Five Pounds

In 1893 the gold and silver coinage of Victoria was redesigned. The Joseph Boehm portrait of the Queen was a little controversial, and the small crown perched upon the Queen’s head was not universally popular. Consequently, the engraver Thomas Brock (1847-1922) was given the task of producing what would become the last coinage portrait of this lengthy reign.

Known as the ‘old head’ bust, Thomas Brock’s design was quickly used on the gold and silver coin series, although it did not appear on the bronze Penny, Halfpenny and Farthing until two years later, in 1895.

This 1893 Five Pound gold coin is a magnificent example of the Victorian engraver’s art. The obverse features Brock’s realistic obverse portrait and is combined with Pistrucci’s timeless reverse rendition of St George slaying the mythical dragon. Only a small number of Five Pound coins are available in the gold Proof Set of 1893 – issued to celebrate the first appearance of the new coinage. A select number of individual Proofs were plucked from these sets, and therefore this large and impressive gold piece is a rarity. The condition is practically perfect, the frosted design is free from abrasion and the proof fields have a bright mirror glow.

Towards the end of her reign, Queen Victoria was seen as the grandmother of Europe, and at her Diamond Jubilee, 4 years later in 1897, there was great celebration. Through her daughter Victoria, who had married the future Friedrich III of Prussia, she was the grandmother of the future Kaiser Wilhelm II. Through her second daughter Alice, her granddaughter (also called Alice) married Czar Nicholas II of Russia. Her second son, Prince Alfred, was elected King of Greece in 1862 but declined the throne. His daughter Marie married King Ferdinand of Romania, and there was scarcely a royal family in Europe who did not have some matrimonial link with Victoria!

Gold five-pound pieces have become increasingly more desirable over the years. The undeniable weight in your palm and elaborate designs of these five pounds, especially the more visually stunning proof examples – have created a much higher demand for these coins in the last fifteen years. Being the last design of Victoria’s long and accomplished reign adds to the popularity of this Old Head design. Examples in 2005 were fetching around £2000, in today’s market, they regularly sell in excess of £20,000.