Una and the Lion

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United Kingdom 1839 5 Pounds

The Una and the Lion was a British £5 gold coin depicting Queen Victoria. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful British coins ever struck. It was designed by William Wyon in 1839, to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign (in 1837).

The coin is the lightest of the British £5 coins, weighing only 38.7–39.3 grams.[1]


The obverse of the coin shows Victoria's head, and 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" - is inscribed around the head.[2]


The reverse of the coin is a depiction of Queen Victoria walking to the left of a lion. The Latin phrase DIRIGE DEUS GRESSUS MEOS – "May God direct my steps". Underneath the lion are the Roman Numerals "MDCCCXXXIX" (1839).[2]

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.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Una and the Lion". spink.com.
  2. ^ a b Milled coin inscriptions and their meanings, Paul Shields Metal Detecting Website