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All creatures great and small: Golden depictions of animals


Humans have always had a great fascination with creatures and formed bonds with them. Dogs are constantly referred to as man’s best friend. Some animals have great symbolism or heraldry, and others have gone on to become some of our most celebrated fictional characters. We also place great value on gold, so it is interesting to see how some of our favourite creatures, both great and small, have been depicted on coins made by the Royal Mint. 

Peter Rabbit

Created 120 years ago, in a book called The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter’s wider collection of friendly characters became known to the world. 

Peter popped out of the bushes in his iconic blue jacket covered in brass buttons, searching for vegetables to feed his widowed mother, Mrs. Rabbit, as well as his younger sisters, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail. They live in a very homely rabbit hole, completely with a rustic human kitchen, human furniture, as well as a shop where Mrs. Rabbit sells various items. 

Here the cheeky rabbit is celebrated on a gold coin which features one of Beatrix Potter’s original illustrations of Peter.

The Lunar Tiger

Moving on from a cutesy rabbit to a fierce tiger; our next coin celebrates the Lunar Tiger. If you were not already aware, 2022 is the Year of the Tiger. Created to celebrate Chinese New Year, this commemorative UK £5 coin is made of wonderful sterling silver and features a detailed tiger design made by the acclaimed artist David Lawrence. 

The coin is presented alongside a traditional red envelope, and it’s packaging artfully reflects the lunar calendar and Chinese culture. This makes it perfect for giving as a gift or learning more about this interesting piece of history and culture. 

Yale of Beaufort

From one symbolic creature to another, this is the Yale of Beaufort. A mythical creature with the body of a goat, tusks of a boar and tail of a lion, the Yale of Beaufort is one of the most peculiar of the ten heraldic guardians chosen by King Henry VIII to guard Hampton Court Palace.

Closely associated with the powerful Beaufort family, the Yale of Beaufort on the moat bridge that allows access to Hampton Court Palace was presented with a shield emblazoned with the arms of Jane Seymour. This was a symbolic gesture to reinforce her authority and influence as the king’s new wife.

The yale is also linked to the title of Somerset, which Jane Seymour’s brother Edward held as Duke. It is thought that King Henry VIII also chose the yale as a Queen’s Beast to honour her brother.

Portrayed as a strong defender, the Yale of Beaufort is now depicted as one of The Queen’s Beasts. It has a crown collar, signifying royal ownership, and the chain around the tusked body demonstrates how the powerful creature has been tamed.

The Queen’s Beasts

Talking of the Queen’s beasts, there is also a coin that depicts all ten of those statues that stood guard at the entrance to Westminster Abbey as the world watched the coronation of Her Majesty The Queen in 1953. This coin is part of the wider “The Queen’s Beasts Collection”, which tells the stories of Britain’s ancient symbols of ancestry and power. 

For the final design for this iconic collection, all ten beasts are united in a protective circle around Her Majesty The Queen, making it the only coin to feature the beasts and the monarch they represent in one regal design. 

If you are interested in learning more about the world of gold; last week we profiled Kyle Bass, the prophet of Wall Street doom and a leading Gold investor.