The Queen's Beasts - The White Horse of Hanover

Author: Victoria Toothill - Guest Writer

Published: 16 Jun 2020

Last Updated: 24 Jun 2020

Synopsis

Most people will know that the monarchies of Germany and Britain have always been closely related. However, some may not be aware that one of our kings was lifted directly from the ruling house of the Kingdom of Hanover. Hanover now makes up part of Lower Saxony in Germany, but it was once a kingdom in its own right. When Anne, Queen of Great Britain tragically died without an heir despite 17 pregnancies (12 of which ended in miscarriage or still birth and her living children all died before the age of 12), she became the last Stewart monarch. Without an heir of her own and her closer relatives overlooked because of their Catholicism, her second cousin George of Hanover came to the throne. He brought with him the symbol of his house and region. The ‘Sachsenross’ (White Horse of Hanover), a white horse on a red background, was incorporated into George I’s Royal Arms and became part of British heraldry.

George I White Horse Of Hanover Queens Beasts Coin Series

The Arms of King George I

The original Queen’s Beast statue of the White Horse of Hanover holds a shield bearing the Royal Arms of George I, and the horse in the coin design is no different.

The Royal Arms show the three golden lions of England on a red background and the red lion of Scotland on a yellow background with a red border. These share the first quarter of the shield to symbolise the union of the two countries that took place in the reign of Queen Anne (George I’s predecessor).

The fleur-de-lis of France appears, as had since 1340 when Edward III claimed the French throne after the death of his uncle Charles IV of France. The fleur-de-lis would continue to be included in the Great British Royal Arms until 1801, by which time the French Revolution meant that France had no monarch at all. The fleur-de-lis is featured in the second quarter and the Irish harp in the third quarter.

Although it was not part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland was included in the Royal Arms as the monarch of England had also held the title of Lord of Ireland since Henry II invaded and gave the part of Ireland under his control to his son as a lordship. When his son then became King John of England, he united the two titles and the lordship passed with the monarchy to his successors. This continued until Henry VII styled himself King of Ireland.

Royal Arms George I

The Arms of Hanover

As you can see, the fourth quarter shows the Arms of Hanover, which is where the White Horse is included. The Arms of Hanover include the two yellow lions of Braunschweig on a red background, the blue lion of Lüneburg on a yellow background with red hearts, and the White Saxon Horse on a red background. The inner shield (inescutcheon) initially bore the electors bonnet signifying George I’s rule of Hanover as the Prince Elector. When Hanover then became a kingdom in 1816 (and George I its King)  this was replaced by a crown. 

While the horse is a relatively small part of George I’s Royal Arms, it held important significance. As well as appearing on all military uniforms during his reign, the white horse also featured on royal badges of office. Additionally, the plethora of pubs called ‘The White Horse’ in the UK owe their name to the tradition of naming public houses after symbols in heraldic badges. A wave of new pubs named 'The White Horse' would have sprung up in the summer of 1814 as a show of loyalty to the new king.

The Symbolism of the White Horse

White horses have been popular in myth and legend throughout the ages. From the unicorn (a white horse with a horn) to the winged Pegasus, white horses have had often had supernatural features added to them. However, even without these additions white horses have played important roles in our culture, from fairy tales to religion, modern literature to huge, ancient, hill figures like the Uffington White Horse. White horses are, of course, the only creatures heroes should be seen riding on their quests. St George rode a white steed as he slew the dragon. All children know about the white horse who famously bore a ‘fine lady’ at Banbury Cross.

Also, more recently the brave, swift and highly intelligent Shadowfax, ‘lord of all horses’, bore Gandalf across countries and through battles in The Lord of the Rings. Not forgetting the Lone Ranger’s Silver. Showing incredible bravery Silver (named for his silver-white colouring) is battling a buffalo when the Lone Ranger finds him. After he is nursed back to health, he is offered his freedom but stays with the Lone Ranger, showing great loyalty.

All of these white horses exhibit the traits these creatures have come to represent, strength, freedom and luck! Horses in general have represented power down the ages as it was mostly those with horses who had power. The role of the horse in war could not be understated and, as they are expensive to keep, they were a show of wealth. If you had a horse that was ridden only for pleasure (hunting or hacking) you were almost certainly a member of the middle or upper class.

Until the invention of the train and then the car, the horse was the easiest and most reliable way to travel. They gave people the ability to roam further and faster than they ever could alone. In addition to this, if you have ever ridden a horse at speed, you’ll know the feeling of freedom as you gallop along. These things along with the timeless image of a wild horse roaming at will across hill and plain, have made the horse an enduring symbol of freedom.

White horses in particular were symbols of good luck, prosperity and even fertility. To the Celtic inhabitants of early Britain, the white horse was associated with Rhiannon and Epona, fertility goddesses who would sometimes take the form of a white horse. These Celtic traditions may have merged with the Saxon Steed as the Saxon ancestors of George I, who first used the Saxon Steed as their emblem, brought it to the shores of Britain long before George I’s reign. The Saxon Steed was brought to Britain and Kent in particular by Saxon hordes who settled there. Ever since the Kentish flag has included a white horse, usually on a red background. The difference is that the Kentish white horse is always depicted ‘rampant’ or rearing but the White Horse of Hanover is shown at full gallop.

Bullion Coins

The bullion versions of this coin make a great crossover between the collectors and investors markets. The intricate designs and the history represented by each beast appeal to the collectors, and the range of metals and CGT exempt status appeal to the investors. Their status as official UK legal tender is the reason investors won’t pay Captital Gains Tax and the reason why a £ denomination appears on the obverse of the coin.

White Horse of Hanover Gold Bullion 1oz Reverse The Royal Mint  White Horse of Hanover Gold Bullion 1oz Obverse Jody Clark Queen ELizabeth II

1oz Gold 

This one-ounce gold bullion coin is supplied in a capsule. The coin contains 1 troy ounces of 999.9 fine gold and is exempt from Capital Gains Tax. It weighs 31.21g and has a diameter of 32.69mm. The Reverse features Jody Clark's White Horse of Hanover with a shield bearing George I's Royal Arms. Surrounding the horse a raised pattern that looks like intricate chains linked covers the background.

The inscription around the edge of the coin reads WHITE HORSE OF HANOVER 1oz · FINE GOLD · 999.9 · 2020. 

The obverse was also designed by Jody Clark and bears the fifth portrait of The Queen. It features a bust of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the King George IV State Diadem. This portrait shows an 88-year-old Queen with deep wrinkles around the eye and mouth areas. The Queen wears Diamond Jubilee drop pearl earrings and her chin is lifted slightly, which has been said to indicate that she is looking positively towards the future. The truncation is shaped into a sweeping curve. This portrait was introduced in 2015 and continues to be used today. On this bullion coin the background is not smooth but covered in a pattern of raised dots, carrying on the textured feel of the reverse but with a different pattern.

The inscription reads: ELIZABETH · II · D · G REG · F · D · 100 POUNDS.

Remember that the coin had to be given a denomination in order to be legal tender and so exempt from CGT. So, the £100 should not be considered a guide price! With the spot price for 1oz of gold hovering between £1300-£1400 recently and premiums to be paid on top of that you should expect to be paying a lot more than its £100 face value. In an effort to keep our customers informed and show what great value our prices are, our products have a price comparison so you know you'll be getting the best deal on your bullion.   

0.25 oz Gold

This coin is also available in a quarter ounce version. This smaller coin bears the same designs obverse and reverse but in miniature weighing only 7.80g and with a diameter of 22.00mm. It has a face value of £25, but as with its 1oz counterpart you should expect to pay for the gold content not the denomination.

Silver Bullion Coins 

Here we explore the appealing designs and technical specifications of the silver White Horse of Hanover silver bullion coins. 

2oz Silver

This two-ounce silver bullion coin contains two troy counces of silver. The coin has a fineness of 0.999 and as British Legal Tender, is exempt from Capital Gains Tax. It weighs 62.42g and has a diameter of 38.61mm. The Reverse features Jody Clark's White Horse of Hanover with a shield bearing George I's Royal Arms. Surrounding the horse a raised pattern that looks like intricate chains linked covers the background.

The inscription around the edge of the coin reads WHITE HORSE OF HANOVER 2oz · FINE SILVER · 999.9 · 2020. 

The obverse was also designed by Jody Clark and bears the fifth portrait of The Queen. It features a bust of Queen Elizabeth II wearing the King George IV State Diadem. This portrait shows an 88-year-old Queen with deep wrinkles around the eye and mouth areas. The Queen wears Diamond Jubilee drop pearl earrings and her chin is lifted slightly, which has been said to indicate that she is looking positively towards the future. The truncation is shaped into a sweeping curve. This portrait was introduced in 2015 and continues to be used today. On this bullion coin the background is not smooth but covered in a pattern of raised dots, carrying on the textured feel of the reverse but with a different pattern.

The inscription reads: ELIZABETH · II · D · G REG · F · D · 5 POUNDS.

Again those pesky face value denominations are not a guide. The spot price for 1oz of silver has been anywhere between £13 and £15 recently. So, not forgetting those pesky premiums, you'll be looking to pay somewhere around £40-£45 for your 2oz coin. Check out the price comparison for this coin to get a live price and be reassured you'll be getting the best deal on your bullion.   

White Horse of Hanover Silver Bullion 2oz Reverse White Horse of Hanover Silver Bullion 2oz Obverse

10oz Silver

This coin is also available in a ten ounce version. This bigger coin bears the same designs obverse and reverse writ large weighing in at a whopping 311.055g and with a diameter of 89.00mm. It has a face value of £10, but as with its fellows you should expect to pay for the metal content.

Proof Mintages

White Horse of Hanover Proof Varieties Mintage
WHoH 2020 UK Gold Proof Kilo 10
WHoH 2020 UK Gold Proof Five-Ounce 55
WHoH 2020 UK Silver Proof Kilo 85
WHoH 2020 UK Silver Proof Ten-Ounce 180
WHoH 2020 UK Silver Proof Five-Ounce 205
WHoH 2020 UK Gold Proof One Ounce 390
WHoH 2020 UK Gold Proof Quarter Ounce 1000
WHoH 2020 UK Silver Proof One Ounce 4200
WHoH 2020 UK £5 Brilliant Uncirculated Unlimited

One of the most important things for coin collectors is rarity. This can help to explain why proof versions of these coins can fetch a price so much higher than their bullion counterparts. This is why mintage is important. Gold proof coins tend to have the smallest mintage numbers as they come with the biggest price tags and tend to appeal to only the most affluent collectors. However, there is also a growing trend for collecting affordable base metal coins. Mass market, unlimited mintage, base metal versions of coins can make as much if not more money for a mint on a popular design. 

Proof Coins

The design on the proof coins is very similar to that on the bullion coins. However, there are some slight differences. For example the field (background) is flat on the proof coins so they are easily distinguishable from their textured bullion equivalents. The inscription also differs on these proof coins as the emphasis is no longer on the metal content but instead on the craftsmanship that goes into creating a perfect proof coin. So, the inscription on the reverse includes only the name of the beast around the bottom and the year split above the beast's head.

White Horse of Hanover Proof Reverse Silver Bullion Coin

White Horse of Hanover Proof Obverse Jody Clark Queen Elizabeth II

A Word from the Designer

Queen’s Beasts designer Jody Clark is best known for his ‘fifth portrait’ of The Queen seen on UK coins since 2015, but has also spent a lot of time pouring over British heraldry to inspire his Queen’s Beasts designs and ensure they are true to the spirit of the great houses they represent. He says of his White Horse of Hanover design,

“Given its similarity to the unicorn, I was keen to give the horse a different pose to keep it distinct from its mythical relative. Unlike the unicorn, the White Horse faces to the right, as does Her Majesty The Queen on the obverse, signifying the royal ancestry and history of monarchy that it represents. I tried to give this horse a strong silhouette by posing the horse in profile, working hard to give the muscles a level of realism and look of strength befitting this magnificent heraldic beast.”

Further Reading

You may be interested in exploring more articles in our precious metal and coin news section of the website.

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