Gold coin: Denomination: 1/2 Guinea
Tower Mint, London
King William III and Queen Mary II (1688-1694)

Mary was the daughter of James II. For reasons of politics she had married William of Orange, James II nephew and left England to live with him in the Netherlands. When James II lost support, William was invited to invade England and to take over the throne jointly with his wife. James II escaped to France and live there in exile until his death.

Below the bust of the King is a small elephant with a castle on its back. This is the badge of the Africa Company and indicates that the gold used to make this coin came from Africa and was supplied to the mint by that company. The name 'guinea' originated from the fact that the first gold for this denomination was supplied from Guinea in Africa by this company.
At that time the value of British coins depended on the value of the metal they contained. The gold guinea, introduced in 1662 as a 20 shilling coin, now began to vary in terms of how many shillings it was worth. This was because the relative value of silver and gold varied in daily trade and the quality of the silver coins in circulation declined through wear and clipping. During the first years of their joint rule the guinea varied from 21 shillings and 6 pence to 30 shillings.

The reverse of the coin depicts the crowned Royal shield showing the lands controlled - England, Scotland, Ireland and France with the arms of the House Nassau, representing William, at the centre. The legend reads continuously on both sides of the coin and is in abbreviated latin; it translates: William and Mary King and Queen of Great Britain France, and Ireland.

Obverse Description

Conjoined heads of William & Mary right; William laureate; below, elephant and castle; around, GVILELMVS . ET . MARIA . DEI . GRATIA

Reverse Description

Crowned shield bearing the arms of England and France (quartered), Scotland, Ireland and of the House of Nassau at the centre; around, MAG. BR. FR. ET. HIB. REX. ET. REGINA 1691, the date being divided by the crown.

Edge Description

diagonal milling, ////

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