Gothic Crown Coin

The Gothic Crown coin, engraved by William Wyon is widely considered by numismatists to be one of the most beautiful coins within the British milled series. The 1847 Crown is especially notable for its depiction of Queen Victoria. Enclosed in Medieval style Gothic script, the bust is modelled on Victoria while still a Princess, wearing an embroidered dress. The roses, shamrocks, and thistles on the dress represent England, Ireland and Scotland. The engraving of her face and dress is notable for being especially fine and intricate. It is evocative of medieval drawings and illuminated manuscripts.

Queen Victoria’s ornate crown is the first instance of a British monarch portrayed on coinage wearing a crown since Charles II. It cuts through the trefoil border on the inner edge of the coin. The crown Queen Victoria wears is a stylised version of St. Edward’s Crown, worn by Monarchs since Edward the Confessor in the 11th Century. This version was re-created for Charles II, after the original had been melted down in 1647.

1847 Gothic Crown coin

These features evoke the bygone, medieval period in order to emphasise the sovereignty of Queen Victoria. They hint at the ways in which Wyon utilised Gothic Revivalism to express power and unity through the medium of the 1847 Crown.

Gothic Revivalism

Although best known as an architectural movement, Gothic Revival was adopted across the decorative arts.  One of the best-known works produced in this style is the Houses of Parliament, by A.W.N Pugin. Pugin was a proponent of Gothic Revivalism as an ideological force. He argued that Gothic architecture was the product of a more spiritually enriched society. Pugin advocated for Gothic Revivalism as the ‘true Christian’ architectural style.

Such ideas were supported by eminent art critic John Ruskin. He regarded medieval crafts people’s painstaking attention to detail as nurturing a spiritual satisfaction which he believed was lacking in modern, industrialised production. Despite nationalistic claims to Gothic style within France and Germany, English writers’ interchangeable use of the terms ‘Early English’ and Gothic asserted ownership over the style. As late as the 1920’s, prominent critics such as Kenneth Clark praised Gothic Revival as ‘the most widespread and influential artistic movement which England has ever produced’.

Therefore, by employing an artistic style that was associated with spiritual superiority and that was articulated as evidence of British cultural hegemony, Wyon constructed a regal image of unity, pride and power especially resonant with contemporary taste.

Gothic Crown coin at auction

The 1847 Gothic Crown’s desirability is elevated by its limited, initial mintage of just 8000 pieces, as well as the mysterious reason for its issue. Almost certainly not intended for circulation, it is speculated that the piece commemorates the 10th Anniversary of Queen Victoria’s 1837 accession.

1847 Gothic Crown coin

We will sell this 1847 ‘Gothic Crown’ coin in the Silver, Coins & Medals auction.

The coin is Lot 392 in the timed, online-only sale closing on Thursday 2nd March.

It has an estimate of £2,200 – 2,800.

Auction Details

Silver, Coins & Medals | Thursday 2nd March 2023

Coins & Medals- Lots 382 – 431

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