Gold Sovereign Coins
The “English” Gold Sovereign coins were first minted in 1489 during the reign of King Henry VII with a nominal value of 20 shillings (£1). The Gold Sovereign did not have a face value on the coin because it was originally intended to be a gold bullion coin. The obverse of the first Sovereigns showed King Henry seated on the throne full front facing. The reverse had the English Royal Coat of Arms and displayed the Tudor double rose.
The “English” Gold Sovereign coins were originally minted as a 23 karat half troy ounce bullion coin but the gold content was reduced to 22 karat by King Henry VIII. This was done to make the coins more durable because the 23 karat coins were very easily damaged, dented or scratched. The new 22 karat gold was achieved by creating an alloy mix of 5.33% copper, 3% silver and the remaining 91.67% was pure gold. This became known as Crown Gold and became the standard for all British gold bullion coins and they are still minted in this way today.
The same Crown Gold alloy mix was also adopted by many other countries including South Africa for the Krugerrand and also by the United States for many coins minted here. The “English” Sovereign design and weight was changed many times and continued to be minted until 1604. After this date the English produced a number of gold coins such as the Laurel, Broad, Unite and Guinea.
The “New” British Gold Sovereign coins began production in 1817 restoring the name of the English Sovereign. The weight of the British Sovereign was set at 7.988052 grams in 22 karat resulting in a pure gold content of 7.322381 grams which is 0.235420 troy ounces. The weight and purity has remained the same for over two hundred years and they are still made in this same composition today.
British Gold Sovereigns were made in the UK continuously from 1817 for 100 years until World War I when the United Kingdom left the “Gold Standard”. From 1917 until 1932 British Sovereigns were only minted at the branches in Australia, India, Canada and South Africa. In 1957 the British resumed production of the Sovereign as bullion coins until 1982 but only as proof coins between 1983 and 1999. Since 2000 the British Gold Sovereigns were once again minted as bullion coins.
British Gold Sovereigns were also minted in London in the year 1925 as part of Winston Churchill’s failed attempt to get the United Kingdom back on the “Gold Standard”. Here is a comprehensive list of all minting locations and years from 1817 to the present day:-
- London, England – 1817 to 1917, 1925, 1957 until present day.
- Pretoria, South Africa – 1923 to 1932.
- Bombay, India – 1918 only. (1.3 million coins minted in this 1 year).
- Sydney Australia – 1855 to 1926.
- Melbourne, Australia – 1872 to 1931.
- Perth Australia – 1899 to 1931.
- Ottawa, Canada – 1908 to 1919.
The modern Sovereigns minted 1957 to present depict The Queen Of England on the obverse with the words around the perimeter in Latin “Elizabeth II-Dei Gratia-Regina-F:D:+” meaning Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and defender of the faith. The reverse displays St George on horseback slaying the mythical dragon with a sword. The date and mint mark are shown beneath the dragon.
The British Gold Sovereigns are respected world-wide for their value as a very collectable rare coin and are a favorite among collectors and investors. The British Sovereign is another excellent way to diversify your investment portfolio.