Spectacular 'Una and the Lion' Certified by NGC Being Offered in Heritage Sale

Posted on 7/9/2021

The highly desirable British rarity may realize seven figures when it is sold later this summer.

The finest-graded example of the Great Britain 1839 “Una and the Lion” 5 Sovereign, which is certified by Numismatic Guaranty Corporation® (NGC®), is being offered in an August sale. All eyes will be on this exceptional gold rarity, which is the centerpiece of the World’s Fair of Money World Coins Signature Auction presented by Heritage Auctions, August 19-20, 2021. Online bidding begins in late July.

This Una and the Lion’s grade of NGC PF 66Ultra Cameo sets it apart from the several dozen other examples in the NGC Census. NGC recognized its incredible eye appeal by including its trademarked Star (★) Designation as part of its grade.

Great Britain 1839 “Una and the Lion” 5 Sovereign graded NGC PF 66★ Ultra Cameo
Click images to enlarge.

The obverse features an elegant portrait of the young Queen Victoria. Surrounding her bust is the legend “VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D:” — Latin for Victoria by the Grace of God, Queen of the British territories, Defender of the Faith.

Inspired by Edmund Spenser’s 1590 poem The Faerie Queene, the reverse depicts the young queen as the heroic character of Lady Una. She personifies the “true church,” while the Lion symbolizes England. This represents the first time that a British monarch was depicted as a fictional character on a coin.

The Una and the Lion was designed by William Wyon, Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death in 1851. The coin was created to commemorate Queen Victoria’s coronation in 1837 at the age of 18. It is generally regarded as Britain’s most beautiful coin, and examples are highly sought after by collectors today.

Prices realized at auctions around the world reflect the strong demand for NGC-certified Una and the Lion coins. An example graded PF 65 Ultra Cameo set a record by realizing about $930,000 in a Taisei Coins auction in Japan in May 2020. Just a few months later, an example graded NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo broke that record, realizing about $1.148 million in an October MDC Monaco sale.

Heritage Auctions provides an estimate of $600,000 to $800,000 for the example graded NGC PF 66 Ultra Cameo in their August auction. If it realizes at least $1 million, it will join a list of 10 other NGC-certified coins to reach seven figures this year. That includes six from the United States, two from China and one each from Russia and Great Britain. The latter, a 1937 Gold Pattern Edward VIII 5 Sovereign, set a record for any British coin sold at auction by realizing a price of $2.28 million in March.

Related Link

NGC Census: Great Britain 1816-1901

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