The Sovereign is actually an old English circulation coin but considered a bullion coin today. Sovereign Gold coins are minted in a 22K gold-copper alloy, so they have a much higher scratch resistance compared to 24K gold coins. The front of the Sovereign gold coins always shows the portrait of the British Queen or the King.
Weight & Size
Sovereign gold coins have been minted in two sizes and denominations since 1817. The names are Half Sovereign and Sovereign. The fineness for both sizes is 916 ⅔/1000.
|Nominal Value||Gross Weight||Fineweight||Diameter||Thickness|
|1 Pound||7.988 g||7.322 g||22.05 mm||1.52 mm|
|1/2 Pound||3.994 g||3.661 g||19.16 mm||0.95 mm|
Sovereign gold coins are produced in 22 karat. This 22K alloy has the advantage of a good scratch resistance, which is due to the copper and/or silver content. The ratio is 91.66% gold and 8.34% silver/copper. The use of a 22 karat alloy for the Sovereign gold coins was regulated in the Coinage Act of 1816.
The English King Henry VII gave the first order to coin Sovereign gold coins which was started in the year 1489. In the following centuries the Sovereign lost it’s significance and was replaced with other circulation coins such as Laurel, Unite and Guinee. In 1817, the coining of the Sovereign was resumed and the alloy of 22 karat was defined in the new Coinage Act of 1816 (22 K = 916 ⅔ / 1000). The price was set at 1 Pound 20 shillings for a 1 Pound Sovereign. For means of payment, the Sovereign was no longer used in the UK after 1917. In South Africa, the Sovereign has not been used as legal tender since 1932. The coinage as a bullion coin was resumed only in 1957, to satisfy the rising demand for investment gold. Due to the long history of the Sovereign as a legal tender coin, large stocks of previous years can be found around the world. As of today, the total number of Sovereigns coins minted exceed 1.5 billion pieces.
Appearance & Name
The name Sovereign can be translated as "Sovereign, Ruler or Regent". The Sovereign gold coin has a rippled edge and an edge bar to prevent tampering. The edge bar has the function to give the coin a better stability and to make them stackable. The edge bar and rippled edge also give the coin an aesthetic character.
The design of the front (obverse) depicts the profile of the ruler of the United Kingdom. Since some of these rulers were in office for decades, there are different representations of them. Over time, the appearance of the ruler is adjusted in the motif. The sight of the portrait may be left or right. On the front, the name of the Regent is imprinted.
The back (reverse) may contain various motifs. The most widely used is the image of "Saint George Slaying the Dragon". Other versions, such as from the Sydney Mint, have the royal coat of arms and the stamping location on the back.
Mints of Sovereign Gold Coins
Due to the size of the British Commonwealth and the long history of the Sovereign, it was produced in many different mints. These mints are located almost always in the vicinity of large gold deposits. Witwatersrand, in South Africa, has produced about 40,000 tons of gold to date and still has the highest gold deposits in the world. Of course, the Sovereign was also coined in London, but the London coins have no mintmark.
|Pretoria (South Africa)||SA|
|London (United Kingdom)||without mintmark|
There are two commemorative coins that are classified as collector coins. First is the 5 Pound Sovereign and second, the Double Sovereign, denominated with 2 Pounds.
|5 Pounds||39.94 g||36.61 g||36.00 mm||3.0 mm|
|2 Pounds||15.97 g||14.63 g||28.40 mm||2.5 mm|
Some Sovereigns certainly have a high collector value, which is in excess of the price of gold. One example is the 1917 Sovereign, which was minted in the midst of the First World War. Sovereigns minted in London were put into circulation in only very small numbers. Most of the minted Sovereigns were used to pay for arms from the United States. Stored in Fort Knox, they were melted into bullion in 1934. So basically a lot of the coins from 1917 are not circulated anymore. Due to the high collector value, this edition is often counterfeited. But as there is no mint mark for the London mint, counterfeiters remove the mintmark from other mints on this particular year 1917. These so called numismatic fakes are difficult to detect. So when buying 1917 Sovereigns proceed with caution. One of the rarest Sovereign coins is the year 1927. This edition shows the portrait of Edward VIII. At an auction in 2014, the coin achieved a sale price of 516,000 Pounds.
- Tradable Worldwide
- Relatively scratch-resistant (22 K)
- Storable in a small space
- Easy to Buy and Sell in small amounts
- Crisis proof
- Many different versions
- Numismatic Counterfeits
- Country of origin: United Kingdom
- First Year of Mintage: 1817
- Karat: 22 K
- Fineness: 916.66 / 1000
- Alloy: Gold/copper alloy
- Gold content: 91.66%
- Scratch resistance: good
Weight: 7.32 g Purity: 917 / 1000 Country: United Kingdom Mint: The Royal British Mint Tax: Taxfree accord. to §25c UStG Packing: Single in Bag, 25 in tube Grading: Mint State - UncirculatedCurrently not available