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Heraldic Creatures on UK Coinage

Started by Deeman, April 18, 2021, 02:56:00 PM

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This topic illustrates UK coins having creatures forming a major part of a reverse design. Corresponding heraldic descriptions are provided where appropriate, some of which may possibly come under scrutiny.

Gold coins, silver bullion and pattern pieces have been excluded.

Coins depicting heraldic lions within royal shields are numerous and repetitive, and are not listed.

Coins containing a blazon with supporters are illustrated. The system of blazoning arms was developed by the officers of arms in the Middle Ages and includes an escutcheon (shield), crest, and, if present, supporters, mottoes, and other insignia.


Crowned lion statant passant (standing on all four feet facing spectator).

George IV, 6d issued 1826-29 & 1/- issued 1825-29.

Edward VII, 1/- issued 1902-10.
George V, 6d issued 1911-27.
George V, 1/- issued 1911-27, redrawn issue 1927-1936


George VI, 1/- crowned lions issued 1937-52. From 1949 no IND IMP (Indiae Imperator) after India's independence.
Representing England - crowned lion statant passant (standing on all four feet, facing spectator).
Representing Scotland - crowned lion sejant affronty (sitting, facing spectator) holding in the dexter (right) paw a sword and in the sinister (left) paw a sceptre both erect.


Elizabeth II, 1/- lions issued 1953-70.
Representing England - three lions passant gardant (walking, facing spectator).
Representing Scotland - lion rampant (upright) within a double tressure flory counter-flory (double fleurs-de-lis border).


10p decimal coins issued 1968-2008 ('new pence' 1968-81).
Crowned lion passant gardant (walking with right forepaw raised and all others on the ground, facing spectator).


Royal Coat of Arms.

The escutcheon is quartered. The first and fourth quadrants represent England and contain three lions statant passant (standing on all four feet, facing spectator). The second quadrant represents Scotland and contains a lion rampant (rearing up) within a double tressure flory counter-flory (double fleurs-de-lis border). [The third quadrant has a clarsach - Irish harp.]

The dexter supporter (right of shield, spectator's left) is a crowned lion rampant gardant (upright, walking, head turned to full face looking right) representing England.

The sinister supporter (left of shield, spectator's right) is a unicorn rampant (upright) armed and crined (hoofed and maned), gorged (collared) with a coronet with a chain affixed thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back, representing Scotland.

The crest, if present, upon the Imperial Crown is a lion statant passant.

George VI coronation crown 1937 (without crest).

Royal Arms £1 issued 1982, 93, 98, 03, 08.

Christopher Ironside 50p issued 2013 (without crest).

Elizabeth II £5 coronation 60th anniversary 2013.

Royal Arms £1 issued 2015.
This is an interpretation of the traditional Arms without crest, derived from an unusual variant on the side of a naval drum, dating from Nelson's time, giving the supporters much more prominence. A partial representation of a crowned lion is shown gardant (facing spectator) and a partial representation of a unicorn is shown regardant (looking back).


Elizabeth II, £1 beasts representing constituent parts of the UK.

Scottish lion issued 1994, 99. Lion rampant (upright) within a double tressure flory counter-flory (double fleurs-de-lis border).

Welsh dragon issued 1995, 2000. Dragon passant (walking toward the spectator's left, right forepaw raised and all others on the ground).

English lions issued 1997, 2002. Three lions statant passant (standing on all four feet, facing spectator).


Elizabeth II £1 Royal Beasts issued 2016.

Depicts the Royal Beasts of the four nations around a representation of the Imperial State Crown.

The beasts are crowned English lion, Scottish unicorn, Welsh dragon and Northern Ireland stag.

The beast of NI is shown as a stag as advised by the RM Advisory Committee. The original design showed an Irish elk. The Coat of Arms of NI, granted in 1924 after the Irish Free State had separated from the UK, had an Irish elk to the left of the shield. When the NI government was prorogued in 1972 the arms went out of official use. The grant has not been rescinded and, as the body to which the arms were granted no longer exists, an elk could not be used.


RAF Badge £2 issued 2018.
The badge features an eagle volant (flying), head affronty, lowered and to the sinister (facing spectator's right).


St George slaying dragon - horse rearing, dragon couchant regardant (lying down, looking back).

Crowns (5/-):
George III issued 1818-20.
George IV issued 1821-22.
Victoria issued 1887-1900.
Edward VII issued 1902.
George VI Festival of Britain 1951.

George V crown issued 1935 Art Deco design.

£5 coins: -
Prince George's birth 2013.
Prince George's 2nd birthday 2015.
Prince George's 5th birthday 2018.


One of the Tower of London series £5 coins issued 2020.
Three lions passant gardant (walking, facing spectator) coming through a Roman arch window.


Queen's Beasts £5 series dated 2017-21.
When the Queen was crowned on 2 Jun 1953, ten plaster statues were created to form a guard of honour at the entrance to Westminster Abbey. The series covers all the beasts but the depictions are in variance to the actual statues.

Lion of England - crowned, attitude counter-rampant (standing on hind legs, facing the spectator's right) and roaring. Dated 2017.

Unicorn of Scotland - attitude salient in trian aspect (rearing on hind legs, facing the spectator's left at an angle), armed and crined (hoofed and maned), gorged (collared) with a coronet with a chain affixed thereto reflexed over the back. Dated 2017.

Red Dragon of Wales - depicted as a wyvern (dragon with two legs) rampant (upright) resting upon its tail with its wings endorsed (thrown back). Dated 2018.

Black Bull of Clarence - attitude counter-salient in trian aspect (rearing on hind legs, facing the spectator's right at an angle). Dated 2018.

Falcon of the Plantagenets - attitude perched to the dexter (upright, facing the spectator's left), wings disclosed (open but pointing downwards). Dated 2019.

Yale of Beaufort - attitude salient (rearing on hind legs, facing the spectator's left). A yale is a mythical beast with characteristics of a goat, in the case of the Beaufort Yale, with tushes of a boar, and strewn with bezants (roundels). Dated 2019.

White Lion of Mortimer - attitude sejant erect contourné (seated on its haunches, with body erect and both forepaws raised, facing the spectator's right). Dated 2020.

White Horse of Hanover - attitude salient contourné (rearing on hind legs facing the spectator's right). Dated 2020.

White Greyhound of Richmond - collared, attitude counter-salient regardant (rearing on hind legs, looking back to spectator's left). Dated 2021.

Griffin of Edward III - attitude wings displayed (spread out) and elevated. A griffin is a hybrid mythological beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Dated 2021.
In British heraldry a griffin's wings are never shown closed. The winged griffin is female, because in British heraldry a male griffin, aka keythong or alce, is shown with spikes (depicting sun rays) on its back instead of wings.