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St. George & the Dragon, Reimagined

Published June 25, 2024 | 2 min read

By Louis Golino

On June 18, 1815, the armies of the Duke of Wellington and his Prussian allies defeated the French army of Napoleon near Waterloo. This ended France’s attempts to dominate Europe in the 19th century.

The Royal Mint marked this historic date by launching its St. George and the Dragon silver and gold bullion coin range on June 20. The bold design features a contemporary version of the classic gold sovereign design.

Meanwhile, the Perth Mint in Western Australia marked its 125th anniversary on the same day with its own new gold sovereign. The coin also depicts the famous fable. 

St. George & the Dragon

Following the Battle of Waterloo, King George III of England’s son invited Benedetto Pistrucci, an Italian gemstone carver, to England to create designs for new silver and gold coins. Pistrucci chose to depict the legendary battle of good versus evil known as St. George and the Dragon. The story originated in the 11th century. According to the legend, St. George rescued a princess from an evil dragon and became a Christian martyr. Over time, he came to symbolize not only chivalry and knighthood but also national pride and valor.

Pistrucci’s motif shows St. George, a Greek-born Roman guard, wearing a Corinthian helmet and cape as he rides horseback naked. He is grasping a broken sword that he brandishes above a dragon. Some believe St. George symbolizes a triumphant England, and the dragon represents a defeated France.   

His creation, a widely admired numismatic masterpiece, first appeared on gold sovereigns in 1817. It has since shown up in modified form on all subsequent gold sovereigns, some 19th-century silver crowns, and several modern United Kingdom coins.  

Over the centuries, the famous legend inspired countless texts and artworks. It has also inspired modern coins from other mints that seek to depict the motif in the artist’s own interpretation. 

British Bullion Series 

The latest Royal Mint coins to feature this iconic design are the first of a new series of silver and gold bullion coins. These pieces have unlimited mintages that will explore the famous tale. 

The debut release features a design by Jody Clark, who has done extensive work for the mint. She crafted the final royal effigy of Queen Elizabeth II and the popular Queen’s Beast series. Clark’s version has St. George wearing full armor and the Corinthian helmet as he drives a lance into the beast.

The Royal Mint is issuing silver coins in two .999-fine silver versions. One is a 1-ounce, 38.61mm 2-pound piece, and the other is a 1-kilogram, 500-pound coin with a 100mm diameter. The gold coins are struck in .9999-fine gold, including a quarter-ounce, 25-pound coin (22mm) and a 1-ounce, 100-pound piece (32.69mm). 

125th Anniversary Australia Sovereign

When the Perth Mint was first established in Western Australia on June 20, 1899, its purpose was to mint British gold sovereigns with gold mined in that part of Australia.

To mark the 125th anniversary of the striking of the first Australian sovereign, the mint has released its $25 AUD 125th Anniversary Australia Sovereign 2024 gold proof coin. The specimen is made in the original alloy of 22kt (91.67-percent fine) gold with the balance being copper. The coins have a mintage of 2,325, a weight of 7.98g, and a diameter of 22.6mm. They bear a “P125” mintmark for the Perth Mint’s 125th anniversary. 

They feature an original portrayal of St. George slaying the dragon by Perth Mint coin designer Jennifer McKenna. Her design shows St. George riding naked and grasping his sword as a large lizard snarls at him.  

McKenna said that she was asked to create her own interpretation of the design. To prepare, she studied the literature on the legend and various artists’ renditions of it on everything from church murals to modern book illustrations. She added that her goal was “to create a universal interpretation of the legend that would speak to all. I hoped that this method would create something timeless and classic, yet modern.” The new Australian sovereign is being released in several versions.  

For more information on the new sovereign, the mint’s 125th anniversary celebration, and a new loyalty program for mint customers, visit the Perth Mint’s website.