What to Look for in British Guinea Coins

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Consumers have collected coins since Renaissance times for various reasons, including artistic display, bullion value, and historical significance. British Guinea coins, in circulation between 1663 and 1813, provide consumers with all of these in their collecting. When looking to collect British Guinea coins, there are several factors consumers can use to evaluate the worth of the prospective addition to their collection.


Lower Grading Scale

Coin collectors use a standard grading system to provide a consistent determination of the value of coin currency. For British Guinea coins, there are three main evaluation points in determining the collection value, aside from the standard bullion value of the gold guineas: the inscription, date, and design. Guineas receiving a poor grade have severe wear in all areas. A fair grade means that the inscription, date, and design are legible if only slightly, with very little visible detail available. A good or mediocre grade indicates the inscription and date are very clear, despite extensive wear on the coin. A very good, in US standards, or Fair, in UK standards, denotes considerable wear with higher points worn through, though these coins remain significant for collecting if they are extremely rare.


Higher Grading Scale

For British coins in collectible condition, different grades apply. Clear detail on the coin with evidence of limited circulation denotes a very fine grade. These coins may also retain some mint lustre in the lower points. Extremely fine condition indicates slight wear with mostly sharp detail and large amounts of mint lustre remaining. Uncirculated, as the name implies, indicates mint condition on appearance, though it may have some very slight bag abrasions, and some difference in tone with older Guinea coins. The two highest grades for collecting are Brilliant Uncirculated and Fleur de Coin or FDC. Brilliant Uncirculated means the coin retains full mint lustre, while FDC typically refers to proof coins or collection coins in sealed mint sets.


Design Variations

The designs of the British Guinea changed with time to reflect the current ruler. The first Guinea coin depicted Charles II wearing a laurel wreath, surrounded by the inscription "CAROLVS II DEI GRATIA", meaning "Charles II by the grace of God". Some coins also depicted an elephant or an elephant and a castle beneath the ruler's bust. In 1688, as co-monarchs, the coin depicted an obverse of William and Mary, with a reverse of a unified shield containing the coats of arms. Collectable coins of note include the "VIGO" inscription on the 1703 Queen Anne coin, the five portraits of George II, the eight obverses and five reverses of George II, and the six obverses and three reverses of George III, particularly the rose shield and spade shield.

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