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The UK gold sovereign is a historic British coin that has been in circulation more than two centuries. They have been issued by the Royal Mint since 1817, as 22 carat gold coins having a face value of one pound. Initially, it was well-known as a circulating coin. However, over the years their circulation has stopped. They are now considered to be a bullion coin, which is attractive to collectors and gold investors. The modern-day Sovereign carries a design of St George and the Dragon on the reverse of the coin. This design was created by the famous designer, Benedetto Pistrucci and his initials appear on the coin.
When the Sovereigns were initially minted in 1817, George III was the reigning monarch. Therefore, the coins were produced with an image of his head on the obverse. However, the King died in 1820. So, George III Sovereigns were struck for the duration of only three years. There were other factors that led to limited mintage produced during these years. The coin failed to win popularity at the time and there was a lack of demand. By 1819, only a little more than 3500 were being produced. There was talk of gold being discontinued as a metal used for coinage. This was another factor that contributed to the low numbers being manufactured. As a result, George III Sovereigns have proved to be the most valuable due to their scarcity, with one fetching £186,000 at auction.
The British gold Sovereign has witnessed the rule of several monarchs. George IV acceded to the throne in 1820 and now the Sovereigns were produced with his image. William IV became King in 1830 and once again, a new Sovereign was introduced. However, his reign was short-lived and ended in 1837 with his death. It was now the start of the Victorian era and by 1838, the ‘shield back’ Sovereign was being minted regularly at the Royal Mint.
It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the Sovereign gained worldwide popularity. From 1842, a massive re-coinage operation was undertaken that lasted three years. New quality control measures ensured that the coin was produced to a high standard and distributed across the world. Of course, these coins featured an image of the young head of Queen Victoria. Of the commonly traded and readily available bullion Gold Sovereigns, the Young Head Victoria tends to be the most valuable with prices around £300 each.
Proof and rarer modern Sovereigns can also fetch higher prices like the Elizabeth third head, which trades around £400. By 1890, all gold coins prior to the Victorian era were recalled by the government and the demonetisation came into effect in 1891. This is another reason why early Sovereigns are scarce today. The sovereign was discontinued during the start of the First World War in 1914. In 1937, a proof set of Sovereigns were created for the reign of Edward VIII. They were never released as the King abdicated in 1938. These are considered to be very rare and one of them fetched £516,000 at an auction in 2014. Needless to say, the gold sovereign remains one of the most collectable coins in the world today and brings joy to generations of investors and collectors alike.
At Physical Gold, we specialise in the best gold bullion coins. Whether you’re a collector or an investor building a gold portfolio, we’d be happy to hear from you. Get in touch with us by visiting our website at www.physicalgold.com
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Daniel Fisher formed physical Gold in 2008, after working in the financial industry for 20 years. He spent much of that time working within the new issue fixed income business at a top tier US bank. In this role, he traded a large book of fixed income securities, raised capital for some of the largest government, financial, and corporate institutions in the world and advised the leading global institutional investors. Daniel is CeFA registered and is a member of the Institute of Financial Planning.