History of the Gold Guinea
Gold guineas were first introduced in 1663, during the reign
of King Charles II, and were named after the West African
country the gold for the coins came from Guinea. They were
the standard gold coin in this country before the sovereign
was introduced in 1820.
coin to the left is a Charles II gold half guinea of 1669.
Originally the value of the guinea was twenty shillings, but its
value changed during the course of its life due to the relative value of
gold and silver. In 1670 the weight of the coin was reduced from
8.4–8.5 g to 8.3–8.4 g, but the price of gold continued to increase, and
by the 1680s the coin was worth 22 shillings.
The value of the gold Guinea was stabilised during William
III’s reign in 1696 through devaluation of the gold coinage
and restoration of silver coinage.
The coin to the
left is a 1701 William III Guinea. It was for sale in my
eBay shop and sold for £1750 in June 2009.
William and Mary had joint
sovereignty over the Kingdom of
England, as well as the Kingdom
of Scotland. King William
III and his wife Queen Mary II,
a daughter of James II. Their
joint reign began in February,
1689 the year this halfcrown was
They were called to the throne
by Parliament, replacing James
II, who was "deemed to have
fled" the country in the
Glorious Revolution of 1688.
After Mary died in 1694, William
of Orange ruled alone until his
death in 1702. Their rule was
the only period in British
history in which "joint
sovereigns" with equal powers
were allowed to reign; usually,
the spouse of the monarch has no
power and is simply a consort.
Note King Williams hooked nose
which can be more clearly seen
on the coin.
The value of the Guinea deteriorated again during the reign
of George III because very little silver or copper coin was
minted. In fact most of the silver in Europe had already
been mined out and was in very short supply.
to the left is gold Guinea graded graded EF 70 by CGS and
valued by them at £1250.
George III's long reign
was marked by a series of military conflicts involving his kingdoms,
much of the rest of Europe, and places further afield in Africa, the
Americas and Asia.
Early in his reign, Great Britain defeated France in
the Seven Years' War, becoming the dominant European power in North
America and India.
However, many of
its American colonies were soon lost in the American Revolutionary War,
which led to the establishment of the United States of America.
of wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France, over a twenty-year
period, finally concluded in the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.
The guinea was finally replaced in 1816 by the Sovereign.
Until the introduction of the guinea, coins had mostly been
hand-stamped, where a coin blank would be placed between a pair of
engraved dies and hammered to produce the raised pattern. Some milled
coins were made in Cromwell's time but production of the first
guineas coincided with the time when all coins were milled. Produced
mechanically, and though some hand stamped guineas were produced in the
first couple of years, all others were mechanically produced.