The 2020 George III £5 was issued as part of the Annual Coin Set on the 1st January and today the coin has been individually released.

King George III was the first king of the United Kingdom (which was officially formed in 1800) and to this day remains the longest reigning king in British History, reigning for an astonishing 59 years.

Throughout his reign, Britain fought in wars against France and America and from these wars the country emerged as a world power.

And so, in this anniversary year marking 200 years since his death, it seems only fitting that a brand new United Kingdom George III £5 coin should be issued.

2020 King George III £5 Coin

This is the first time George III has been celebrated on modern UK coinage and the stunning design explores the multifaceted nature of Britain’s longest reigning king.

Designed by renowned Royal Mint designer, Dominique Evans, the famous Bull’s Head portrait of George III is shown in a crowned cartouche, with the royal residence and his place of death, Windsor Palace, to the left and the King’s Observatory, which was founded by King George, to the right.

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Our Top Three George III Coins

But of course this is not the first time that King George has featured on UK coinage…

Throughout his reign from 1760 – 1820, the portrait of the king featured on the obverse design of Britain’s circulating coins.

We’ve taken a look at what we feel are three of the most interesting coins issued during his reign and the stories behind them.

1819 Sovereign

The very first gold Sovereign was struck during Henry VII’s reign in 1489, when the king ordered The Royal Mint to produce “A new money of gold.”

Originally Sovereigns were circulating coins accepted in Britain and elsewhere in the world, however it is now a bullion coin and is sometimes mounted in jewellery.

Many recent Sovereigns feature the well-known design of Saint George and the Dragon on the reverse, along with the initials (BP) of the designer, Benedetto Pistrucci.

1819 George III Sovereign. Credit: The Royal Mint

Now you might have heard of the 1819 Sovereigns already, and that’s because these coins are renowned for being exceptionally rare.

Remarkably, only 3,574 Sovereigns were minted during 1819 – struck on five separate occasions, between August and November 1819.

These coins were minted using gold provided by private merchants.

200 years after they were struck, it’s thought that potentially only ten of these Sovereigns are known to still exist.

Unsurprisingly, these coins sell for astonishing prices at auction, with the highest quality 1819 Sovereign known to exist achieving a price of £186,000 in 2013.

Cartwheel Penny

During the 18th century, the practice of melting down official copper coins and making lightweight forgeries had become so widespread that it prompted industrialist Matthew Boulton to offer a solution.

George III Cartwheel Penny

He proposed that each coin should actually be made to contain its value in copper, the quality should be improved by using a retaining collar during striking (to give a perfectly round coin) and thick raised borders would prevent them wearing so easily.

In 1797 Boulton was awarded a contract to supply 480 tonnes of pennies, each weighing one ounce and these were the very first British coins to be minted by steam power.

The George III Cartwheel Penny was also Britannia’s debut appearance on the penny – a position she held until decimalisation in 1971.

The remarkable story of when a British 2 pence weighed the same as a Mars Bar…
The modern 1p coin compared to the 2oz 2d coin

Because of their large size, Boulton’s coins soon earned the nickname ‘cartwheels’.

It is highly unusual for a low denomination to have such a substantial size and weight, and unsurprisingly they are in high demand from collectors for their status as Britain’s heaviest ever penny.

Eighteen Pence

In 1797, after a failed French invasion caused financial panic, British gold and silver coins disappeared from circulation, hoarded out of fear.

With so much coinage withdrawn from circulation, The Royal Mint found itself in a vulnerable position with a limited ability to issue coins.  

Incredibly, this lead to the extremely unusual situation where the Bank of England acted as a substitute for The Royal Mint by issuing an emergency currency. 

George III Eighteen Pence. Credit: Numisbids

Technically speaking, these emergency issues were not coins but tokens.

This is also the reason why they issued very unusual denominations, including the eighteen pence piece.

These tokens were issued for just 7 years until they were eventually withdrawn from circulation in 1817, by which time a massive silver recoinage had been undertaken.

So now you know the stories behind some of the most acclaimed coins issued during the reign of George III, how does the brand new 2020 £5 coin compare? And will you be adding it to your George III collection?


Secure your 2020 George III £5 Coin

The 2020 George III £5 Coin is now available to purchase individually in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality.

Click here to add this coin to your collection.

Have you the story behind the Cartwheel Pennies? Not only are they the heaviest and largest coins ever issued for circulation, they were also issued for ONE-YEAR-ONLY.

Here’s the story…

Throughout the 18th century silver prices increased, which resulted in a substantial decrease in the amount of silver pennies that were being minted. This led to a lack of small change and businesses were finding it difficult to pay their employees with the current coinage.

Two of the largest coins ever issued in British history

Subsequently, a trend began where independent Mints started striking copper half penny and penny tokens. Most of these tokens were being minted at the ‘Soho Mint’ in Birmingham, which was actually the very first Mint to be powered by Steam.

Whilst this was not legitimate money it solved the issue and it took off – companies all over Britain were ordering personalised tokens.

Two of the largest coins ever issued in British history

However, the ‘solution’ meant there was a problem…

The British Government had lost control of the coinage. In an attempt to regain control, they instructed Soho Mint to strike 480 tonnes of copper pennies and 20 tonnes of copper twopences.

These were to be the first regal British coins of the denominations to be made of copper, and the very first official British coins to be struck using steam power.

8 times heavier than today’s 1p and 2p coins

The coins were large! In fact, the 1 pence weighed an incredible 1oz and the 2 pence weighed 2oz – that’s the same weight as a Mars Bar and almost 8 times heavier than the current 1p and 2p coins. At that size, it’s hard to believe these ever jangled in the pocket of our ancestors!

The coins weighed so much because they were struck in pure copper and their intrinsic value corresponded to their actual face value. Their design was simple – a portrait of the monarch at the time, King George III on the obverse and Britannia on the reverse.

The dramatic size of these coins and their unusually wide raised rim is why they became known as ‘Cartwheel’ pennies.

The modern 1p coin compared to the 2oz 2p coin

Issued for one-year-only

The ‘Cartwheel’ pennies were designed this way to prevent counterfeiting, but their size and weight made them cumbersome and unwieldy. They were immediately unpopular with the public as people didn’t like carrying them around – the two-pence was an INCH and three-quarters in diameter and a quarter inch thick. There were soon calls for them to be discontinued and shortly after, the coins were redesigned.

Due to the rise in the price of copper, the intrinsic value of the coins soon exceeded their face value and subsequently the majority of these coins were melted down.

This meant, the coins were issued for one-year-only, which automatically makes them two of the must-have modern coins and key coins in any British collection.


Small number of the original 200 year old ‘Cartwheel’ coins available…

We have secured a small number of sets containing the original 200 year old ‘Cartwheel’ coins – the two pence and the penny. They come presented in a deluxe presentation case with an accompanying Certificate of Authenticity. They really are key must-have coins in any British collection.

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