James VI & I and the ‘Unite’ Coin

King James VI & I – Art & Culture at the Jacobean Court

John de Critz James VI and I, 1566 - 1625. King of Scotland 1567 - 1625. King of England and Ireland 1603 - 1625 1604

James VI & I 

Attributed to John de Critz the Elder (about 1550–1642) 

1604, oil on canvas 

As a passionate collector and wearer of jewellery, James commissioned a special jewel to celebrate his accession to the English throne - the Union of the Crowns - called the ‘Mirror of Great Britain’. In this portrait James wears the ‘Mirror’ as a hat jewel. Three diamonds and a large ruby combine to create a rhombus shape, which is highlighted with two large pearls. The pendant drop features the magnificent 55 carat Sancy diamond. As well as being the largest known diamond at the time, the Sancy diamond also had extraordinary lineage, having belonged to French kings before it was sold to James in 1604.  

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Unknown, The ‘Unite’ Coin, between 1609–1625, gold. National Museums Scotland (H.C239)

The ‘Unite’ Coin  


Between 1609–1625, gold 

James ensured that his message of unity was projected and strengthened through a variety of media - in paintings, engravings, printed material and in coins. The ‘Unite’ coin includes a portrait of the king in profile wearing the imperial crown and holding the orb and sceptre. On the reverse of the coin is James’s new royal arms and the Latin inscription ‘FACIAM EOS IN GENTEM UNAM’ which translates as ‘I will make them one nation’. 

View this artwork at National Museums Scotland

King James VI & I – Art & Culture at the Jacobean Court

King James VI & I – Art & Culture at the Jacobean Court