Meet the Second Design of the Proof Queen’s Beast Series: The Unicorn of Scotland

By now, investors and collectors around the globe are familiar with the Queen’s Beast Series of gold and silver bullion coins from the Royal Mint. Launched in 2016, the 10-coin series is available in a growing number of options in 2017. What began with two gold bullion options and a 2 oz silver bullion coin, has now grown to feature platinum coins in the series and two design releases in the proof series.

Followers of the bullion series know that the program has reached three releases at this point: The Lion of England, the Griffin of Edward III, and the Red Dragon of Wales. These coins arrived in this order, with the Lion of England first in 2016 and the Griffin and Red Dragon arriving second and third (respectively) in 2017.

The Royal Mint is now ready with the Proof Queen’s Beast Coins, and while the first release of the series matches that of the bullion offering, there’s a surprise in store from the Royal Mint in terms of the proof coinage order. Available second, you won’t find the Griffin of Edward III or even the Red Dragon of Wales. Instead, get ready to meet the Majestic Unicorn of Scotland.

Proof Queen’s Beast Coins

As mentioned above, the Royal Mint stuck with the most important of heraldic creatures in the United Kingdom for the first release in both the bullion and proof collections. The Lion of England appeared first on the proof collection when it debuted in 2017. However, the Unicorn of Scotland was chosen for the second release of the proof series. Taken in historical context, the Unicorn of Scotland is next to the Lion of England in terms of longevity and importance to the United Kingdom (more on that shortly).

For the 2017 Proof Queen’s Beast Unicorn coins, the Royal Mint offers both gold and silver coin options to those collectors looking to buy into this impressive program. JM Bullion carries a total of five different options for those looking buy gold or silver:

Each of the coins in the Proof British Queen’s Beast Unicorn of Scotland release have different mintage figures. All of the proof coins ship inside of a protective box courtesy of the Royal Mint, and include a numbered Certificate of Authenticity from the mint. The gold coin contains .9999 pure gold content, while the silver coins have .999 pure silver content. The exact mintage figures and face values of the coins are as follows:

  • 1 oz Gold: Limited mintage of only 475 coins and a face value of £100 (GBP)
  • 1 Kilo Silver: Limited mintage of only 225 coins and a face value of £500 (GBP)
  • 10 oz Silver: Limited mintage of only 850 coins and a face value of £10 (GBP)
  • 5 oz Silver: Limited mintage of only 750 coins and a face value of £10 (GBP)
  • 1 oz Silver: Limited mintage of only 6,250 coins and a face value of £2 (GBP)

The Design of the Unicorn of Scotland

Created by Jody Clark, the man behind the latest effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, the Unicorn of Scotland on the 2017 Proof British Queen’s Beast Unicorn coins is a vibrant reimagining of this iconic symbol of British heraldry. You’ll notice on the reverse that the Majestic Unicorn of Scotland is depicted standing on its hind legs with its front legs dangling in front of the Royal Coat of Arms of England bearing the Lion of England on its face. The unicorn has a crown around its neck with a long chain reaching down and around to the shield.

Engravings on this face of the coin include “Unicorn of Scotland” below the design and “2017” above. Clark’s initials are captured on this side to the left of the unicorn as “JC.” Flip the coin over to the obverse and you’ll find the latest fifth-generation effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

Her Majesty is featured on all British and commonwealth coinage obverse fields. This depiction was finished in 2015 by Clark, who at 33 years old became the youngest engraver in Royal Mint history to complete the Queen’s effigy. Reflecting Her Majesty at age 89, the image is surrounded by the face value (in Pounds Sterling) for each individual coin, her name as “Elizabeth II,” and the engraving of “D.G. Reg F.D.”

History of the Unicorn of Scotland

As alluded to earlier, the Unicorn of Scotland is historically important to the royal heraldry of both Scotland and England. When the kingdoms had separate crowns, different animals were in use as the symbols of the Royal Coat of Arms. The use of the unicorn was fitting for the Scottish crown given the nation’s long history and love for mythical beasts and legendary creatures. The unicorn, it seems, was a perfect fit.

William I of Scotland was the first to introduce the unicorn on an early version of the Scottish Royal Coat of Arms. Known as William the Lion, or just William I, he reigned as King of the Scots from 1165 until his death in December 1214. William I has the second-longest reign in Scottish history behind only James VI.

In fact, it was James VI of Scotland who responsible for the permanent adoption of the unicorn as the Unicorn of Scotland in the nation’s heraldry. As the successor to Mary, Queen of Scots, James VI was crowned King of Scotland on 29 July 1567 and his supporters adopted a version of the Scottish Royal Arms that included two unicorns.

Some 36 years into the reign of James VI as King of Scotland, the union of the Scottish and English crowns on 24 March 1603 resulted in him becoming James I, King of England and Ireland. Though Scotland and England retained individual sovereignty with their own parliaments, judiciary, and laws, James I ruled over both domains as the sovereign head of state.

The early use of the Unicorn of Scotland together with the Lion of England was adopted through a Royal Arms with a crowned Lion of England and one of the Scottish unicorns previously used by James VI when he ruled over Scotland. In it, a unicorn holds a shield with the Royal Arms of Scotland, featuring a lion ramping in the royal tressure and a fleur-de-lis as an adornment.

Today, the modern Royal Coat of Arms for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Norther Ireland still retains these hallmarks of James VI/I’s designs. It features the Lion of England on the left of the coat of arms and the Unicorn of Scotland on the right. The Royal Coat of Arms in use in Scotland has the pair reversed, with the lion right and the unicorn left.

Get Your 2017 Proof British Queen’s Beast Unicorn Coins from JM Bullion

JM Bullion has the silver and gold versions of the second release in the proof series available today for purchase online. When you buy gold and silver from JM Bullion, you are working with a leading precious metals authorized dealer in the United States. If you follow our blog weekly, you’ll be in the know on all things precious metals, from newsworthy events and upcoming coin releases to the most recent releases available for purchase.

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