|The Very Highest Quality Gold Sovereigns...|
|The Story of the British Gold Sovereign|
A Brief History
The First Sovereign
The gold sovereign came into existence in 1489 under King Henry VII
The pound sterling had been a unit of account for centuries, as had the mark. Now for the first time a coin denomination was issued with a value of one pound sterling.
The obverse design showed the King seated facing on a throne, a very majestic image. It is from this image of the monarch or sovereign that the new coin gained its name - the sovereign. The reverse type is a shield on a large double Tudor rose.
This first sovereign occurs with a number of minor type variations all of which are rare, currently cataloguing from £7000 upwards. Sovereigns were then struck for Henry VIII, and for most monarchs until the first coinage of James I.
Unites and Guineas
From James' second coinage, the sovereign was discontinued in favour of the "unite", also valued at one pound. The unite continued into the reign of Charles I, The Commonwealth, and the early hammered coinage of Charles II.
With the introduction of regular machine made "milled" coinage under Charles II, the guinea was introduced, with a value of twenty one shillings, and this continued to be the main gold coin until 1813 under George III.
The Modern Sovereign
In1816, there was a major change in the British coinage, powered by the Industrial Revolution. The Royal Mint moved from The Tower of London to new premises on nearby Tower Hill, and acquired powerful new steam powered coining presses designed by Matthew Boulton and James Watt. the modern sovereign was born!
A new reverse design was introduced featuring Saint George slaying a dragon, designed by a brilliant young Italian engraver, Benedetto Pistrucci. This beautiful classic design remains on our gold sovereigns today, almost two hundred years later, and for most of its life must have been one of the worlds most widely recognised coins.
Gold Gives Way To Paper
During the first world war, Britain needed gold bullion to finance the war effort. Banknotes were introduced into regular circulation, and within a few years, the gold sovereign ceased to be used in everyday transactions. Production at the Royal Mint stopped in 1917, although some were minted again in 1925.
The branch mints continued to produce sovereigns, Ottawa in Canada until 1919, Bombay in India in 1918, Sydney Australia until 1926, Melbourne and Perth Australia until 1931, and Pretoria South Africa until 1932.
No further sovereigns were then issued for circulation until 1957, although sovereigns were included in the George VI proof set of 1937 which was available for collectors, and sovereigns were also minted but not issued for Edward VIII in 1937, and for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
From 1957, bullion sovereigns were issued almost every year until 1968, then not until 1974 when regular production was restarted.
In 1979, a proof version was issued, and this continues to the present.
In 1989, a special 500 commemorative design was produced, inspired by the very first gold sovereign of 1489, showing H.M. Queen Elizabeth II seated facing on a throne.
For 2002, a shield will be used us the design on the reverse for just one year to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee.
It appears likely that gold sovereigns will continue to be struck every year for sale to collectors. They have become a very popular gift item for christenings and other special occasions.
For modern gold sovereigns, i.e. from 1817
Diameter: 22.05 mm.
Weight: 7.98 grams.
Alloy: 22 carat gold = 0.917 parts per 1000.
Actual gold content: 0.2354 troy ounces.
You may wish to visit some of our other pages:-
Collecting and Investing in Gold, Coins & Sovereigns
Gold Bullion Coins Including Sovereigns
Stock List of Gold Sovereigns, by Type
Stock List of Gold Sovereigns by Date
Gold Sovereigns - Dates Issued
Vintage (1964) Sovereign Advert
1999 Proof Sovereign
If you want to find the value of a coin you own, please take a look at our page I've Found An Old Coin, What's It Worth?
If you have an enquiry about any of our Gold Sovereigns, we'd be happy to answer you, but please note it may be quicker to telephone us. Please see the Contact Us page of our website.
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