2023 Una & Lion Faerie Queene Collection
Strictly low limited edition.
‘The Faerie Queene’ collection, a new series of precious metal coins inspired by Edmund Spenser’s epic medieval poem, telling stories of knights, princesses, mythical beasts, magical villains, honour, betrayal, love and loss, all brought to life by one of the world’s most celebrated coin designers, Joel Iskowitz.
This second coin, 2023 Una & the Lion, is the final coin in the Faerie Queene Collection to bear the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
The Faerie Queene, an epic journey of illustrative storytelling.
Our exclusive ‘The Faerie Queene’ series continues with our second coin release in this four coin series, Una and the Lion - Having become separated from Redcrosse, Una is attacked by a mighty lion! But the beast is becalmed by her beauty and becomes her faithful guard and companion.
The legendary meeting of Una and the Lion, captured once again in timeless gold and silver
Inspired by Edmund Spenser’s epic 16th Century poem, our series continues with the moment that Una meets the mighty lion, and an eternal legend is born.
Book One tells the story of The Redcrosse Knight and the quest he is given by Queen Gloriana on behalf of the lady Una; to rescue her parents from the captivity of an evil dragon. Redcrosse and Una set out on their journey together but soon became separated when a sorcerer’s spell bewitched Redcrosse and he left Una behind.
When she awoke to find Redcrosse gone Una was bereft, and quite alone. She wandered into a shaded woodland to rest, out of sight of anyone who might be passing
“As the great eye of heaven shyned bright,
And made a sunshine in the shadie place;
Did never mortall eye behold such heavenly grace.”
Suddenly Una’s peace was shattered, as a mighty lion entered the clearing. His eyes lit up when he saw the defenceless princess, and he lept at her with hungry rage. But as he got closer to Una he became calmed by her beauty, overawed by her innocence. His anger abated, and instead of attacking Una he kissed her weary feet and licked her hands to soothe her.
This change affected both the lion and his intended
Una was initially frozen with fearful dread, but on seeing the lion’s proud submission to her charms she became overcome with affection, and cried tears of joy at her new companion.
As Una rose to leave the wood and continue her quest
the lion would not leave her side.
Instead, he strode proudly alongside her and became her faithful guardian and protector.
“Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward,
And when she wakt, he waited diligent,
With humble service to her will prepard:
From her faire eyes he tooke commaundement,
And ever by her lookes conceived her intent.”
Sadly, their loyal partnership was all too brief. They soon encountered the enraged knight Sansloy, on a quest for vengeance for the death of his friend Sansfoy at the hands of Redcrosse. Sansloy wrenched Una from her donkey and the lion leapt to her defence. But he was no match for a knight as skilled and powerful as Sansloy, who thrust his sword into the lion’s heart. With one final deafening roar, the lion died, and Una was alone once more.
UNA AND THE REDCROSSE KNIGHT
Book One tells the story of The Redcrosse Knight and the quest he is given by Queen Gloriana on behalf of the lady Una; to rescue her parents from the captivity of an evil dragon. Through the various trials and tribulations of his quest, he transitions from a young peasant boy to a brave and embattled knight called Redcrosse, an allegory for St George, the patron saint of England. Una is a beautiful princess whose mother and father have been imprisoned by a wicked dragon. Carrying a suit of armour with a red cross painted upon it, she visits The Faerie Queene during ‘The Feast of the 12 Days’ to ask for the help of a brave knight in her quest to free her parents.
A young peasant boy who has attended the palace that day volunteers and asks the Queen to trust him with this mission. Una is hesitant to accept, preferring to trust this perilous quest to a more proven knight, but offers the boy a chance; if the armour she carries fits him, then the quest is his. He tries on the armour and it fits him as if it were tailor made! The Faerie Queene names him Redcrosse, and Spenser’s epic story begins. Redcrosse and Una set off to face the dragon, a legendary moment captured in this stunning example of illustrative storytelling by the celebrated designer Joel Iskowitz.
TWO ICONIC CHARACTERS UNITED FOR THE FIRST TIME
Both Una and St George have graced British coinage for centuries, most famously as Beneditto Pistrucci’s classical ‘St George & the Dragon’ Sovereign and William Wyon’s renowned ‘Una & the Lion’ tribute to Queen Victoria.
The Faerie Queene capsule collection brings these two iconic characters together in unison for the first time ever on a coin to tell the story of The Faerie Queene Book 1 – the legendary tale explaining why St George slayed the Dragon.
Comprising of four-coin designs, issued over 2 -3 years, each coin features the key moments in this epic tale of chivalry, adventure, honour and romance.
ABOUT THE FAERIE QUEENE
AN EXCITING NEW FOUR COIN SERIES BY JOEL ISKOWITZ
The East India Company Collection’s new Faerie Queen coin series sees this epic medieval tale of honour, chivalry, love and virtue reimagined by one of the world’s leading coin designers, Joel Iskowitz.
First published in 1590, Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene is a classic work of medieval English literature. At over 36,000 lines long, its six books contain one of the longest poems in the English language, believed to be an allegory of the life of Queen Elizabeth I.
Book One opens with a letter written by Spenser to Sir Walter Raleigh. Spenser explains to Raleigh how his tale has been influenced by the legends of King Arthur, and other great Classical epics such as the Illiad and The Odyssey. He describes how his story will be based around a festival, hosted by The Faerie Queene, called ‘The Feast of 12 Days’.
Across each of these 12 days Queen Gloriana, the Queene of Faerieland, will listen to appeals
for help from her subjects who find themselves in trouble, and on each day she will select a
worthy quest and assign it to one of her bravest knights.
Each of these quests, and the knight to whom it is assigned, would be the subject of one of the 12 books that would make up Spenser’s complete work.
Ultimately, Spencer was only able to complete six of his intended 12 books, joined by a seventh unfinished chapter. Each book did focus on a specific quest as planned, with each knight being a personification of a particular virtue:
Book One; Redcrosse represents Holiness
Book Two; Sir Guyon represents Temperance
Book Three & Four; Britomart, who represents Chastity
Book Five; Sir Artegall, who represents Justice
Book Six; Sir Calidore, who represents Courtesy