The Empire Collection 9 Gold Proof Coin Set
The Empire Collection tells the story of the rise of world’s most famous Company and the history of the British Empire in the East.
Each coin features the portrait of a key ruling British monarch and is faithfully designed to reflect the style and appearance of the original coinage of its particular era.
This is a heritage series unrivalled in design, detail and craftsmanship.
This set is a beautiful addition to any heritage collection – or a valuable gift for a enthusiast of the Empire trade and British history.
Strictly limited to 500 sets worldwide
Read the DETAILS section below for a detailed description of each coin
Each set includes:
9 proof coins – 8g each of .9999 gold / 24 carat
Numbered luxury presentation box with engraved certificate of authenticity
Detailed presentation booklet
For more information please contact us: +44 (0)203 205 3380
Office hours: 10am – 5pm Monday – Friday (UK time zone)
From its very first voyage in January 1601, until it was dissolved and absorbed into the British Crown in 1874, The East India Company laid the foundation of the British Empire in the East. Over time ‘The Company’ rose to account for half of the world’s trade including cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and bullion. It had its own army and navy, its stocks (shares) were central to London’s financial markets and at one point it ruled over 400 million people.
Each piece of the magnificent collection features the portrait of the British monarch, faithfully designed to reflect the style and appearance of the original coinage of the time, to create a heritage series unrivalled in design, detail and craftsmanship.
The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 marked the beginning of England’s mastery of the seas and the beginning of an age of colonisation and exploration. Driven by a desire for adventure and money, wealthy merchants, aristocrats and explorers began searching for new lands. In December 1600, a group of wealthy merchants, under the name Governor and Company of Merchants in London trading with the East Indies, received from Elizabeth I a Royal Charter granting them a monopoly on trade with all countries east of The Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. In 1601, with the full support of the Queen, The East India Company set sail on its first voyage, commanded by Sir James Lancaster. The new commercial entity struggled at first, competing against the already long established Dutch East India Company (VOC). However, within a few short years, it would see profits grow with factories opening in Bantam, Java and Surat.
LETTERING & BEADING: Reflecting the style and appearance of lettering found on Elizabeth I’s coinage, the design features irregular beading and lettering.
RED DRAGON SHIP: The Red Dragon set out in February 1601 along with three other vessels, Hector, Susan and Ascension carrying with them over £28,000 worth of bullion and £6,000 worth of goods, including wrought iron, crockery, pistols and spectacles.
PEPPER: On its first voyage, The East India Company opened its first factory in Bantam. Pepper imported form Java was to play an important part of The Company’s trade for over twenty years.
PORTCULLIS: On the insistence of Elizabeth I, a special Testern coin was struck by The Royal Mint for the first voyage of The East India Company in 1601. Known as ‘Portcullis money’, it was loaded onto Company ships in January 1601. They were the first coins issued for the British Empire outside normal English coinage.
PORTRAIT OF ELIZABETH I: Inspired by Elizabeth I’s 7th issue Crown, and designed in the style resembling the minting techniques of the time, the portrait faces the same direction as all of Elizabeth I coinage.
Following the death of Elizabeth I in 1603, the era of the Stuarts was ushered in with the reign of James I of England. It was a time of gunpowder plots, The Divine Right of Kings and an insatiable appetite for money. James was an avid supporter of The East India Company. In 1609, James I renewed The Company’s charter, extending its monopoly on trade for an indefinite period – so long as it remained profitable. In 1612, James I instructed Sir Thomas Roe to visit the Mughal Emperor Jahangir to secure a treaty giving The Company commercial rights to reside and build factories in Surat. Roe began his diplomatic career in India as Ambassador to the court of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. In his four years of duty (1614-18) he furthered the fortunes of The Company by building their first official factory in India.
LETTERING & BEADING: Modelled to reflect the style of coin lettering and beading on James I coins at the time.
PORTRAIT OF JAMES I: Depicting the portrait of James I from his second coinage double crown, with armoured bust facing right, this coin is minted to reflect the effigy used on his coinage.
ROSE PATTERN: Inspired by the design used on the rare Rose Ryal coins of James I, which were introduced during James I’s second coinage. The rose pattern surrounding the portrait and cameo appeared on the reverse of the Rose Ryal surrounding the Royal Arms.
INSET CAMEO OF JAHANGIR: The treaty between the Mughal Emperor and James I enabled The Company to begin its first official trade with India.
CHARLES I I
Under continuing imperial patronage, The Company expanded its trading operations, eclipsing the Portuguese and establishing trading posts in Surat, Madras, Bombay and Calcutta and securing ports off the coast of China. By 1634, the ruling Mughal Emperor extended his hospitality to Bengal and trade in cotton, silk, indigo dye, saltpetre and tea. Intense competition with their greatest rival, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) culminated in the first Anglo-Dutch war. During the reign of King Charles II a series of new Charters were granted, enhancing the status of The Company in India. The right to take and rule territories, to mint money, to command fortresses, to build armies and ‘make peace and war’ was to become the basis for the future rule of the British in India. The marriage of Charles II to Catherine of Braganza delivered The Company seven small islands, later to become the city of Bombay. In Britain tea drinking became fashionable and the start of a lucrative tea trade began.
TEA PLANT: During the reign of Charles II, tea became an important commodity. Its popularity at home created an increasing demand which was quickly satisfied by The Company’s imports.
MAKE PEACE & WAR: The title makes reference to Charles II’s charter aimed at strengthening the power of The East India Company. These acts provided The Company with the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops and form alliances, to make war & peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas.
DOUBLE C: The double C mark appeared on Charles II English coinage during his reign and can be found merged into Mughal coins minted by The Company, especially silver Fanams and Sumatra copper Cash coins.
BOMBAY MINT: The Bombay Mint was to become the first mint opened by The East India Company in India. Today it is the site of India Government Mint in Mumbai.
WILLIAM I I I
In the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, William III lost many of the customary rights held by previous English monarchs. He did, however, continue to possess direct control over Foreign Affairs as well as the Treasury and Armed Forces, including where and how British merchants could trade. The continuing war with Louis XIV of France meant royal coffers were low. William needed vital customs and taxes from the East India trade to continue to fund the war. Company shareholders returned to Britain with great wealth, building sprawling estates in the countryside and creating a wealthy Merchant class. By 1694 the precious monopoly on trade with the East was deregulated, allowing any English company to trade with India, effectively putting The East India Company’s monopoly up for auction. A new ‘parallel’ company titled the English Company Trading to the East Indies emerged and was granted a Royal Charter by William III.
PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM I I I: This portrait of King William III is inspired by his 1695 Crown – second bust. Facing the same direction as his coinage and designed to reflect the minting techniques during his reign, the single row beading and lettering compliment the design.
FORT WILLIAM: Named in his honour Fort William became the main garrison for the British in Calcutta. The old fort was relocated following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The coin design features the portico and a plan view of the new fort, built by Robert Clive, costing approximately 2 million pounds. Today the fort is used as the headquarters of the Indian Army.
CINNAMON PLANT: For many years, cinnamon was produced in one region, Ceylon. A highly sought after spice, it held a prized position on European merchant ships. By 1767, The East India Company was to establish a cinnamon plantation in the district of Kerala. This estate became Asia’s largest cinnamon estate.
Following the death of William III in 1702, the throne passed to Mary’s sister, Anne. The encouragement of the new state-backed parallel Company under William had caused conflict both at home and in India as the battle to dominate trade with the East continued. In September 1702, Queen Anne issued a new charter in a move to unite the old and new Companies. It was to lead to the emergence of one stronger and United Company which was more financially secure. By 1708, both Companies had officially merged to form “The United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies”, which was later to become commonly referred to as The East India Company. What was to follow during the next decades was a constant see-saw battle between The Company and Parliament, as the British government sought to restrict and control The Company’s growing power. By 1720 fifteen percent of British imports were from India, almost all passing through the new ‘United’ Company.
UNITED EIC BALEMARK: The Company ‘balemark’, a heart shape symbol sumounted by the ‘Four Symbol’, was introduced following the unification of The Company in 1702. It was ‘applied’ to The Company goods for easy identification, eventually representing the integrity and the quality of its wares. In essence it was the forerunner of the modern trademark. The base formed an orb or heart-shaped figure which signified ‘good luck’. The Company’s initials are incorporated into the base and signify ownership. The VEIC lettering stood for United, using the Latin V as a U.
PORTRAIT OF ANNE: This portrait of Queen Anne is designed to reflect the portrait found on her 1704 Half Crown. Facing to the left, the detail on Anne’s coinage was often much cleaner than previous monarchs which is reflected in this design.
GEORGE I I
By 1756 the outbreak of the Seven Years’ War diverted British attention towards consolidating all its territories against the growing French threat. In India, Sir Robert Clive was tasked with defeating the Nawab of Bengal, Sirajud Daulahand and his French allies. In 1757 following the Black Hole of Calcutta incident, Clive triumphed at the Battle of Plassey, capturing the French fort, Chandanagar and securing Calcutta. Considered the most important event in The Company’s history, it was a colossal vistory even though the battle only lasted 40 minutes. It secured Company Rule in Bengal, the richest of all presidencies laying the foundation for British rule in India. Clive rebuilt Fort William as The Company headquarters, which along with Fort St George in Madras and Bombay Castle, demonstrated the supreme power of the British in India. Over the next few decades, The East India Company would become the single largest trading organisation in the world.
BATTLE OF PLASSEY: Considered the most significant event in India, the success of Sir Robert Clive during the Battle of Plassey became a turning point in Company history. The compensation awarded to the British, following the battle included the crucial awarding of diwani rights – the right to collect revenues and decide civil cases. Company rule was officially acknowledged in the Bengal Presidency and its control over India was cemented.
PORTRAIT OF GEORGE I I: Inspired by George II’s 1758 Shilling, this portrait is designed to complement the style of the coins minted at the time. Again, facing in the same direction as his coinage, the beading and lettering reflects the fashion during his reign.
GEORGE I I I
After the death of his father in 1760, George III was faced with a period of political instability. The Company’s new role in India after the Battle of Plassey meant it was drawn increasingly into politics. In Britain, The Company gained a reputation of corruption. Under George III, the first of The East India Company Regulating Acts was passed. Parliament and The Crown established substantial control. Company land was formally recognised as under the control of The Crown. The Governer General of Bengal, Warren Hastings was awarded administrative powers over all of British India. By the beginning of the 1800’s expensive wars and administration had strained The Company’s finances. It was forced to turn to the Crown for financial assistance. The resulting Charter Act of 1813 revoked The Company’s precious monopoly except for tea and trade with China.
COAT OF ARMS INSPIRED DESIGN: The Battle of Plassey (1757) and the Battle of Buxar (1764-65) led to the firm establishment of territorial dominance of The East India Company in India. The Regulating Acts sought to control The Company, which had morphed from a merchant company to a semi-sovereign political entity. The Company Coat of Arms completes the design, symbolising the struggle between Company and Crown and the evolving power of the British in India.
PORTRAIT OF GEORGE I I I: This portrait of King George III is taken from the 1797 Cartwheel Penny, with the effigy facing to the right as found on the coinage of the Monarch.
SPADE GUINEA: The Spade Guinea reference symbolises the role of the famous Guinea during this age of trade and conquest. The last circulating Guinea type was issued between 1787 and 1799 by King George III. It was referred to as the ‘Spade’ Guinea, after the shape of the shield of the Royal Arms on the reverse.
Company Rule in India continued with an increasing centralisation of power. Parliamentary reform and the Industrial Revolution dominated William IV’s reign, with merchants searching for new markets with which to ply their machine-age goods.Open trade produced a widespread spirit of independence. After significant social and political changes in England, the Charter Act of 1833 was introduced. The Act gave a new lease of life to The Company allowing it to continue to rule for another twenty years subject to the trust of the King. The enactment of the Coinage Act of 1835 decreed a uniform coinage for all the territories under British administration. Newly designed coins with the effigy of William IV on the obverse were issued in India as a statement of British power.Most significantly, The Company lost its monopoly of Chinese trade resulting in a ‘Tea Race’ as ships from other companies competed to transport tea via some of the most important eastern trade routes.
PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM IV: This portrait of William IV is taken from the 1835 Mohur Coin. Facing to the right, as found on his coinage the design features the same beading and lettering style found on the Lion and Palm Tree Mohur.
MOHUR COIN: Following the 1835 Coinage Act, The East India Company adopted the Mohur as the highest gold coin in India’s currency system. Weighing a ‘tola’, the Lion and Palm Tree Mohur has become synonymous with the colonial period in India. Its western design was chosen by The Company to reflect the power and strength of the Crown, represented by the striding regal Lion and the exotic landscape of the East, by the Palm Tree.
The continued insistence of the British to transform the religious beliefs in India caused increasing conflict in the colony. Meddling in religion was simply bad for business. High taxes, the loss of land and rumours of animal fat used in the cartridges for new rifles fuelled the fire. In May 1857 local soldiers or ‘sepoys’ in Bengal, the largest of The Company’s army, shot their British officers and marched on Delhi. Compounded by famine and the annexing of several states and rulers, along with years of underlying discontent, the Indian Rebellion of 1857 began. Following the uprising, Victoria’s Parliament passed the Government of India Act of 1858 officially ending The East India Company’s role in India and transferring its assets and governance to the British crown. The British Empire was at the height of its power. Queen Victoria, Empress of India, ruled over countries stretched far around the globe, covering approximately one quarter of the world’s population.
CROWN: The East India Company set Queen Victoria’s crown with the most precious jewel, Koh-i-Noor, crowning her Empress of India. This precious jewel, meaning “Mountain of Light”, was a diamond that was confiscated from Duleep Singh in 1850 by The East India Company. It is now on display at the Tower of London.
PORTRAIT OF VICTORIA: This portrait of Victoria is taken from her beautiful Imperial Issue 1862 Mohur struck at the Calcutta Mint. The crowned bust effigy faces the same direction as the original. The portrait is surrounded by the intricate pattern found on the 1862 Mohur reverse.
Issuing Authority: St. Helena
Weight: 8 grams
Year Date: 2017
Alloy: 0.9999 Au
Issue Limit: 500
Delivery & ReturnsAll coins will be shipped via registered post or UPS depending on location.
- Please allow up to 14 days for delivery
- Liquids cannot be shipped outside of the EU.
- Bullion items cannot be shipped to India.
See our delivery page for more information.