Great Britain, Victoria, Una and the Lion Gold Five Pounds, 1839, Genuine, Filed Rims PCGS
S-3851; Fr-386; KM-742. The so-called Una and the Lion is a British £5 gold coin minted in 1839 depicting Queen Victoria. Designed by William Wyon in 1839, to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign (in 1837), it is now recognized as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck. Interestingly enough, Una and the Lion is the lightest of the British £5 coins, weighing 38.739.3 grams.
The obverse depicts a young portrait of Victoria's head facing left, surrounded by the Latin phrase VICTORIA D: G: BRITANNIARUM REGINA F: D: -- (Victoria by the grace of God, Queen of the British Territories, defender of the faith). The reverse displays a depiction of Queen Victoria walking to the left of a lion. She is holding a scepter in her right hand, a globe in her left. The Latin phrase DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS. -- (May the Lord direct my steps) is above, Roman numerals MDCCCXXXIX (1839) are below the base, W. WYON R.A. is at the rim. It is noted that the same Latin inscription appears on the 2012 Royal Mint £5 Crown, minted to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. The depiction of the young Queen as Lady Una (a character from Edmund Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene, from 1590) was seen at the time as a bold design decision as it was the first occasion when a British monarch had been depicted on a coin as a fictional character.
This is a beautiful specimen featuring deeply cameoed surfaces on each side. The fields are highly reflective and contrast nicely with the deeply frosted devices on the obverse and reverse. This is one of approximately 300 examples struck for inclusion in the British Coronation sets of 1839. It is remarkably free from scuffs and has a very minimum amount of the hairlines that many other examples of this rare coin fall victim to. Despite the disclaimer on the PCGS holder, even with close examination, we are unsure what the grader saw to indicate rim filing, as we cannot detect this. A personal examination is recommended, if for nothing else, to see the true beauty of this rare coin.