The East India Company, formed over 400 years ago, transformed the world and helped to grow the British Empire into the biggest empire the world has seen.
Now The East India Company has issued The Coins of the Empire Collection, a brand new, limited edition set of nine 24-carat gold coins which tell the story of the Company and that of its Empire.
Each coin features a modern interpretation of an iconic coin key to the Empire’s history, covering nine distinct areas from North America to Australia.
In short, it’s the story of the Empire told through a collection of its most noteworthy coins – coins that changed the world.
At its peak the British East India Company single-handedly accounted for half the world’s trade. They minted their own currency, started the mass production of tea for export in India and transformed dining tables in the West forever by introducing new exotic ingredients and flavours.
Just 100 gold coin sets issued to mark this history
Only 100 sets will ever be struck, making each of these coins immensely scarce in comparison to say, the Gold Proof Sovereign, of which 9,500 have just been issued.
It’s the only collection of its type in the world and each individual piece has been faithfully designed to incorporate elements of original coin.
Here are the nine gold coins:
Portcullis Money – Britain’s first international trade coin (1601)
Nicknamed ‘Portcullis Money’ these silver coins were the first British coins struck solely for international use.
It was the coin that started it all for The East India Company.
Produced at the Tower Mint under Queen Elizabeth I for The East India Company’s first voyage, £6,000 worth of Portcullis coins were loaded on to its ships as it set sail in early 1601.
Struck in the same specification as the famous Spanish Real, legend has it the Virgin Queen requested the coins to demonstrate to the world just how powerful she was following the defeat of King Philip II of Spain.
Hog Money – the first English coins of North America (1615/16)
On the 23rd July 1609, a ship called the Sea Venture captained by Sir George Somers, carrying 150 sailors and a dog, deliberately crashed into a reef to avoid sinking in a storm.
The survivors spent ten months repairing the ship, feeding off the wild hog population introduced by the Portuguese, before setting sail for Jamestown, Virginia, Britain’s first colony in North America.
Reaching Virginia, Somers faced a new potential disaster. Most of the new colony’s population had died of starvation, with just a 60 or so settlers left. Fortunately, Somers supplies of pork meat staved off certain death.
Charles II Elephant and Castle Guinea – the coin of the colonies (1663)
After its introduction it became informally nicknamed the Guinea on account of the West African origins of gold shipped to Britain by the Royal Africa Company from the coast of Guinea. The small elephant badge of the company was to appear under the effigy as a provenance mark denoting where the gold had been sourced.
The Royal African Company was led by the Duke of York, King Charles II’s brother.
Established in 1660 after the Restoration of the Monarchy to exploit the gold fields along the Gambia River, it was soon engaged in trading commodities across the ‘Gold Coast’, now Ghana. Its profits were split 50/50 between the King and the Company.
The Cartwheel Penny – The first coins exported to the Australian Colonies (1797)
George III one-penny coins were referred to as “Cartwheel pennies” due to their size and design. Dated 1797 and 1799, they were the very first British coins minted by Matthew Boulton’s famous steam-powered coining press. Boulton is regarded as the founder of modern coinage.
“Near four tons” of 1797-dated pennies arrived aboard the Porpoise, which docked in Port Jackson in 1800 to relieve cash-strapped New South Wales. It occupies an important place in Australian numismatic history as the first coin formally exported to New South Wales, and is also regarded as Australia’s first official coin.
The Rix Dollar – Ceylon’s first milled silver coin (1821)
The first silver money ever sent from England to Ceylon as a current coin was that of Rix-Dollars of 1821.
When the Dutch part of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was formally ceded to the British, they set forth to develop the island’s economy and increase trade. In its rich uplands coffee, tea and rubber was cultivated and by the mid-19th century Ceylon tea had become a staple commodity in Britain, bringing great wealth to a small class of white tea planters.
The St Helena Half Penny – Coin of the South Atlantic outpost (1824)
A fleet commanded by Captain John Dutton in the Marmaduke arrived at St Helena in 1659. It was to become an important strategic port within the British Empire allowing British Merchant ships to refuel on the long journey to the East.
The first local coins were introduced to St Helena in 1821 by The East India Company. 700,000 St Helena copper halfpennies dated 1821 were intended for use by the local population, greatly increased by the military garrison, who were guarding Napoleon in exile. But by the time the coins arrived, Napoleon had died and most of the garrison had left.
The Nova Scotia Penny – Canada’s provincial token (1824)
Nova Scotia proved to be vitally important in deciding whether Britain or France would be the dominant Imperial power in Canada. Its strategically important position meant that it would frequently change hands as both sides fought for supremacy in the area.
The Seven Years War would mark the end of French power throughout Canada and the transfer of Canada to Queen Victoria’s Empire.
India – The Company Rupee (1835)
India was the British Empire’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’. The arrival of the British in India transformed the world, bringing exotic luxuries to the West and creating a permanent British footprint in the East.
This stronghold was to lead to the Empire expanding to Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and establishing cities such as Bombay and Madras.
The Rupee is one of the world’s most famous coins. First introduced in 1540 by Sher Shah Suri as a silver coin named Rupiya, it is one of the world’s oldest coinages.
In 1835 when King William declared a uniform currency across the colony in the 1835 Coinage Act, the Company Rupee was issued bearing The East India Company name on the obverse and the King’s Effigy on the reverse.
China/The Orient – The Trade Dollar (1895)
First issued in 1895, the British Trade Dollar weighed approximately 27g and was minted in 0.900 silver to mirror the specification of the Spanish Dollar, the international trade coin of the time.
It depicted for the first time a standing figure of Britannia holding a trident and British shield with a merchant ship in the background designed by Royal Mint engraver George William De Saulles.
This magnificent coin was to become a symbol of the vast British trade with the Orient and was Britain’s last coin ever minted for international trade.
An instant sell-out
Finished to the exceptional standard you would expect, this collection is The East India Company’s numismatic masterpiece.
Limited to just 100 sets, a total sell-out was achieved immediately. This looks bound to become a future collecting classic.
If you’re interested…
You can now own the luxurious Coins of Empire Collection, but with such tiny numbers available, they won’t last long. Sign up below if you’d like to be contacted about owning this exceptional gold coin set: