Some of the smallest islands in the world have outsized profiles when it comes to the modern precious metals marketplace. Though some of these islands have populations in the mere thousands, products issued in conjunction with those nations are increasingly popular with investors and collectors. St. Helena is a perfect example of a small nation with a growing number of silver bullion pieces for investors. The British Overseas Territory has a long history of association with one of the world’s largest economic entities: The East India Company. Here, you can learn a little more about the popular coins from the East India Company and the island of St. Helena.
One of the earliest collections available on behalf of St. Helena was the Trade Dollar Series. This collection featured five different historic images of 19th-century Trade Dollars restruck on brilliant 1 Troy oz of .999 pure silver blanks. The series featured unique reverse designs paired with the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side of the coin. Each release featured a limited mintage of 5,000 silver coins and consisted of the following designs:
St. Helena’s historic connection with the United Kingdom shines through in another of its longer-running series, the Spade Guinea collection. Introduced in England in the 17th century, the guinea was England’s first-ever machine-struck gold coin. It was used in international commerce for more than a century and took on the moniker of the Spade Guinea during the reign of King George III due to a redesign of the Royal Arms on the reverse of the coin that took on the shape of a spade shovel.
The St. Helena Spade Guinea Series features gold bullion coins alongside 1 oz and 1/10 oz silver options. The coins are issued with no mintage limit. The 1 oz coin was issued first in 2018, with the 1/10 oz silver coin added in 2020. The designs in the series are static each year and feature:
A recent commemorative release, the 2020 Una and the Lion coin replicates one of the most famous images from the reign of Queen Victoria. Previously England’s longest-reigning monarch, a popular design from early in her reign depicted the Queen alongside a powerful lion in a twist on the story of Una and the Lion. On the obverse is the effigy of Queen Victoria’s great-granddaughter, and now England’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In this particular release, the coins feature the right-profile portrait created for the Royal Mint of England in 2015 by Jody Clark. This effigy shows the Queen aged 89 with the George IV State Diadem Crown.
One of the newest options from St. Helena and the East India Company is the release of silver coins in the shape of silver bars. Known simply as St. Helena Rectangular East India Company Coins, these silver bar-shaped coins are available in 250 Gram (8.037 Troy oz) and 10 Troy oz options. The coins have an image of a sailing vessel used by the historic East India Company in its international commerce on the reverse, with the distinct Raphael Maklouf effigy of Queen Elizabeth from 1985.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte, the island of St. Helena authorized a commemorative silver bullion coin known as the Napoleon Angel Silver Coin. The obverse of the coins in this release features the Raphael Maklouf bust of Queen Elizabeth II, with a scene on the reverse inspired by Napoleon’s tomb in Les Invalides in France. Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena by the British following his second defeat in Europe. He died on the island in 1821 and his body was later returned to France in the 1840s. An elaborate tomb was erected in his honor at Les Invalides. In the reverse design, an Angel stands with its left hand on a headstone bearing an “N” in honor of Napoleon.
The latest collection introduced by the East India Company for St. Helena is the Queen’s Virtues Series. The planned six-coin release features fresh reverse images inspired by the Victoria Memorial on The Mall in London. Designed following her passing in 1901 and unveiled in 1911, the memorial includes a gilded bronze statue of the female allegory Winged Victory. Constancy and Courage feature at the feet of Winged Victory and are also captured in gilded bronze. Around the base of the statue are allegorical depictions of Justice, Truth, and Charity. All coins have the same obverse design, Raphael Maklouf’s third-generation British portrait of the Queen. The reverse designs feature the following images:
The historic East India Company was once one of the largest economic forces in the world. The company began issuing its own coins in 1601, the only company ever to acquire the rights to issue its own coins. Queen Elizabeth I issued a Royal Charter in 1601 granting the East India Company this power. Some 56 years later, the East India Company was granted power by Oliver Cromwell to fortify and settle the island of St. Helena as a vital resupply base for its ships traveling between the British Isles and the East Indies. The island would become a vital location for both the EIC and the British Empire at large.
In 1821, the East India Company issued the first-ever local currency for St. Helena, a batch of more than 700,000 half pennies. When Parliament passed an act in 1874 dissolving the East India Company, its coining came to an end. In 2012, East India Company coining was reborn with the first and many new silver and gold bullion collections introduced. Today, it works with the issuing authority of St. Helena to produce the beautiful silver bullion collections covered here.
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