Author Topic: The unicorn on coins  (Read 2421 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
The unicorn on coins
« on: February 22, 2017, 01:22:29 PM »
From Wikipedia:

The unicorn is a legendary creature that has been described since antiquity as a beast with a large, pointed, spiraling horn projecting from its forehead. The unicorn was depicted in ancient seals of the Indus Valley Civilization and was mentioned by the ancient Greeks in accounts of natural history by various writers. In European folklore, the unicorn is often depicted as a white horse-like or goat-like animal with a long horn and cloven hooves (sometimes a goat's beard). In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it was commonly described as an extremely wild woodland creature, a symbol of purity and grace, which could only be captured by a virgin. In the encyclopedias its horn was said to have the power to render poisoned water potable and to heal sickness.

In heraldry the unicorn is best known as the symbol of Scotland. The unicorn was chosen because it was seen as a proud and haughty beast which would rather die than be captured, just as Scots would fight to remain sovereign and unconquered. Two unicorns supported the royal arms of the King of Scots, and since the 1707 union of England and Scotland, the royal arms of the United Kingdom have been supported by a unicorn along with an English lion. Two versions of the royal arms exist: that used in Scotland gives more emphasis to the Scottish elements, placing the unicorn on the left and giving it a crown, whereas the version used in England and elsewhere gives the English elements more prominence. Golden coins known as the unicorn and half-unicorn, both with a unicorn on the obverse, were used in Scotland in the 15th and 16th century.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 01:23:52 PM »
From Wikipedia:

The Lion and the Unicorn are symbols of the United Kingdom. They are, properly speaking, heraldic supporters appearing in the full royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom. The lion stands for England and the unicorn for Scotland. The combination therefore dates back to the 1603 accession of James I of England who was already James VI of Scotland. By extension, they have also been used in the arms of Canada since 1921.



UK, crown, 1937.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 10:57:51 PM by <k> »
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 01:26:22 PM »


UK pattern: 20 decimal pence, dated 1963.  Design by Ironside.



The piece was produced by the Royal Mint and authorised by the government of the day, as part of a project to find the best way to decimalise the currency.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2017, 01:27:56 PM »




In the late 1960s, Christopher Ironside produced a reverse design for the proposed decimal 50 pence that showed the lion and the unicorn, symbolising England and Scotland. The Duke of Edinburgh, who was President of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee at the time, greatly admired the design and thought it far superior to the 50p design that was actually issued.

The Royal Mint produced the design as a special circulating 50 pence coin in 2013, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Ironside. The only difference was the replacement of "NEW" with "FIFTY" in the legend. Click on the link below to read more about it:

2013 Christopher Ironside 50p



See also: UK Pattern 50p
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2017, 01:29:33 PM »
The first UK pound coin of 1983 featured the lion and the unicorn.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 01:32:03 PM »




The UK one pound coin of 2015 shows Timothy Noad’s contemporary reworking of the Royal Arms. This was the UK's final circulating round pound.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 01:34:29 PM »




The UK ‘Round Pound’ of 2016 was only issued in sets and was not produced as a circulation coin.

The dragon represents Wales, whilst the stag is an emblem of Northern Ireland.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 01:36:23 PM »
Trial UK one pound coin dated 2014, showing the lion and the unicorn.  Ultimately, this design was not used.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2017, 01:47:26 PM by <k> »
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2017, 01:44:35 PM »
So, Scotland has the unicorn and also the Loch Ness monster. The point of these beasts is that they do not exist. This is not surprising: a recent United Nations survey found that Scots tell 83% of the world's fibs. I also recently saw an on-line debate about the Scottish economist Adam Smith. There were big arguments about his "invisible hand of the economy", whether it existed and whether he'd even ever used the phrase. So if you ever see a unicorn or an invisible hand on ebay, don't bid for them, especially if the seller is Scottish.

I once even saw news of a zoo in Scotland, which had a "haggis" in a cage, with a notice warning visitors not to disturb it, as it was sleeping. Disgraceful.  >:(

But I believe the Chinese also have unicorns, so the Scots are not alone.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline Figleaf

  • Administrator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 32 335
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2017, 02:03:24 PM »
The problem with the unicorn and lion are Scotland and England theory is that the lion is crowned and the unicorn isn't, coupling hierarchically unequal partners. Also, the unicorn is not a fit symbol for a state. Its horn is a phallic symbol and its white colour symbolises purity, innocence and virginity. the animal is to be hunted and killed for its magical horn (and sometimes its horse manes).

There is another explanation, which sounds better to me: the combination of a lion and a unicorn is significant in alchemy. The lion stands for sulphur and the unicorn for mercury (the stuff, not the planet). Alchemist thinking is that these must be extracted from the materia prima and that their combination gives a substance of a higher order that can create all minerals. This thought was an accepted truth in the medieval Roman Catholic church.

The reason for the alchemist's fascination with sulphur and mercury may be that the two do not react with each other in a pure state, do not mix and do not dissolve in water. However, it is possible to produce mercury sulfide chemically. This yields the colour pigment vermilion. Vermilion is the colour of victory, (Roman) emperors and richness, all perfectly good state symbols.

In other words, the combination of lion and unicorn is more powerful and apt than the unicorn alone.

Peter
An unidentified coin is a piece of metal. An identified coin is a piece of history.

Offline chrisild

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8 912
  • NW · DE · EU
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #10 on: February 23, 2017, 02:48:11 PM »
The Scottish unicorn does have a crown - just not at the top where one would usually expect to see it but somewhere around the neck. :)  But yes, unicorns are just legendary and do not really exist. Even the chocolate ones are ultra-rare and fetch about €100 on eBay. Ask the manufacturer Ritter about that. But I digress ...

Christian

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #11 on: February 23, 2017, 06:08:39 PM »
There is another explanation, which sounds better to me: the combination of a lion and a unicorn is significant in alchemy. The lion stands for sulphur and the unicorn for mercury (the stuff, not the planet). Alchemist thinking is that these must be extracted from the materia prima and that their combination gives a substance of a higher order that can create all minerals.
In other words, the combination of lion and unicorn is more powerful and apt than the unicorn alone.

Peter

You are old enough to have detailed knowledge about alchemy?   :o  I hope you haven't been dabbling in the black arts, Peter.  >:(  If so, you will be banned for sure.

Interesting that the smell of sulphur is associated with close encounters:

UFOs, Do they Smell? The Sulphur Enigma of Paranormal Visitation

If you think close encounters are a myth, think again. They sometimes leave physical evidence, which the UK police and forensics experts have occasionally had cause to investigate:



The Scot in the video reported an acrid smell during his encounter. Could it have been sulphur?

As for mercury, the written ancient Indian myths claim that their flying craft, the vimanas, were fuelled by mercury, which provided anti-gravity effects. But where did the ancients get this concept of fuelled vehicles? Apparently the US military have used mercury for at least one of their super-fast spy planes since circa 1998. I'll have to dig out the reference.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.

Offline <k>

  • Moderator
  • Honorary Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 23 248
Re: The unicorn on coins
« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2019, 10:59:00 PM »


Canada, 50 cents, 1942.  Lion and unicorn.
Visit the website of The Royal Mint Museum.

See: The Royal Mint Museum.