This fixed-mintage gold coin struck from 1/4 troy ounce of 0.9999 pure gold by the renowned Commonwealth Mint commemorates the first gold laurel coin minted under King James I over four centuries ago. And it’s available exclusively from Birch Gold Group.
Since their very first mintage in 1619, gold laurel coins rejected two historic traditions of British coinage.
First, the monarch is shown wearing a laurel wreath rather than a crown. Some other historic coins featured monarchs wearing the ancient Roman symbol of triumph and military victory rather than a proper crown (19th century gold French franc coins, for example).
James I chose the laurel rather than a crown because he actually owned two different crowns… He had an unusual origin story – in 1566, he became king of Scotland at 13 months old. Then, in 1603, he inherited rulership of England and Ireland from the childless Queen Elizabeth I.
James I was the first to rule all three nations of the British Isles, and he coined the term “Great Britain” to describe his kingdom.
Second, the laurel inverts the traditional facing of the reigning monarch. British coinage has always alternated the direction the portrait faced when monarchs changed. In premodern times, when most of a king’s subjects only knew what their ruler looked like from money and minting techniques weren’t particularly advanced, this change helped indicate a new monarch.
In modern times, King George VI faced left. So Queen Elizabeth II, his heir, faces right – always. Back in 1619, though, King James wanted something a little different to symbolize his two titles. He faced right on existing English coinage – so he asked the Royal Mint to produce the first gold laurel showing the other side of his face. Two kingdoms, one king – he was a king with two faces. He was the first (and possibly only) British monarch displayed this way, until today.
Because Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is always shown in right profile, the gold laurel has her facing left instead. That’s one tiny detail that makes this a truly unique coin.
The reverse depicts the Shield of the Royal Arms in King James’s time. This coat of arms represents the three nations he ruled: three lions passant, symbolizing the English throne since the 12th Century, appear in the first and fourth quarters; Scotland’s lion rampant in the second, and Ireland’s harp in the third. You may be asking, where’s Wales? Well, Wales was part of the English kingdom but was also its own principality (ruled by a prince) – which is why the title Prince of Wales is still current among British monarchs. (Monarchy is strange.)
All gold laurels are struck with 0.9999 pure gold, making them as well as their counterparts, silver laurel coins, eligible for inclusion in a Precious Metals IRA – and this fixed-mintage coin is exclusively available from Birch Gold Group.
Please note, Birch Gold’s selection of products rotates over time. To learn more about gold laurel coins, their availability and current pricing, please call us at (800) 355-2116.
Mint: Commonwealth Mint (exclusive distribution by Birch Gold Group)
Mintage: Fixed mintage
Dimensions: 22 mm diameter, 1.2 mm thick
Weight: 1/4 troy oz
Face value: Legal tender of Tristan da Cunha with face value of 1/4 laurel
Fineness: 0.9999 pure gold