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  • This British gold guinea is the very first coin mentioned in the Proclamation

  • Minted in 1788 - the very year in which the colony of New South Wales was founded.

  • Singularly rare George III gold guinea with seldom seen royal coat of arms

George III Gold “Spade” Guinea of 1788

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An incredible opportunity to own coinage of the very earliest era in Australian history. The earliest settlers in the British colony of New South Wales had to contend with a monetary system
plagued by too few coins and too much rum. In an effort to establish order Governor King (3rd Governor from 1800-1806) made a governmental Proclamation in the year 1800 stating what coins would be accepted in the colony and at what value. At the very top of the list was the British gold guinea.


Guineas were the main gold coinage in Britain before the sovereign. Gold coins in ‘guinea’ denominations were issued from 1662 until 1813. In 1817 ‘sovereigns’ were issued and replaced guineas. The guinea has a prestige that is still to be found today: the names of many famous horse races still feature it - such as the “Australian Guineas” run at Flemington as part of the Autumn Racing carnival, or the “Caulfield Guineas” run at Caulfield, the “Randwick Guineas” at Randwick - or the “Thousand Guineas” race, the prize for which was originally one thousand gold guineas!

This is a gold guinea of the year 1788 - the very year the first fleet arrived and settled New South Wales this year date is of great significance to Australia and the coin is an important one in its own right. It is the last kind of gold guinea ever to circulate as coinage in Britain. It was only struck for 13 years from 1787 to 1799. It is the only kind of guinea ever to feature this portrait of the King or this reverse design which means that all collectors of British gold coin types need one for their collections. It’s design was modern and crisp - a reflection of the Industrial Revolution Solid 22 carat gold and 227 years old!


It featured a flat-topped shield with the Royal Arms which resembled a spade and was very different to all those that had preceded it.

The portrait of King George III on the obverse side was designed by Lewis Pingo and it was a radical departure from the classical treatment of British monarchs until that time. This design, more modern and crisp than previous issues, was more in touch with the era of the Industrial Revolution to which it belonged.

This was the only Guinea ever to feature this unusual design for the shield of the Royal Arms, and only one other coin in history would feature it - the Half Guinea issued in the
same era.

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