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Updated on 03/09/2024

Great Britain (UK)
Gold Sovereigns



United States Nickel (5-cents)The size of a Full Gold Sovereign

The Full Sovereign bullion coin that was first minted in 1489 and minted today contains .2354 troy oz. of gold, making it roughly the same size as a U.S. nickel.

The British Gold Sovereign is available in five sizes: the Five (Quintuple) Sovereign (1820), the Double Sovereign (1820), the Full Sovereign (1489), the Half Sovereign (1982), and the Quarter Sovereign (2009).

(photo (below) provide courtesy of The Royal Mint)

The Sizes of the British Gold Sovereign

British Gold Sovereigns are the oldest gold coins still in production and one of the most popular gold coins in the world.

One little-known fact that some UK residents are unaware of is that bullion coins from The Royal Mint are Tax-exempt from Capital Gains due to the coins' status as legal British currency, giving UK residents who purchase these coins added profit when they decide to sell.


The History of the Gold Sovereign

On October 28, 1489, King Henry VII ordered the officers of the Royal Mint to create "A new money of gold," the result of his order was the first gold Sovereign.

The name "English Gold Sovereigns" originated from the monarchy's depiction on the coin's obverse side.

The earliest gold sovereigns were minted of 23-karat gold; nevertheless, in 1526, the fineness of the currency was decreased to 22-karat gold, which became known as Crown Gold.

Crown Gold is a gold and copper alloy that is considerably less prone to wear than the softer 23-karat gold of earlier gold sovereigns.

The Royal Mint struck Gold Sovereigns from 1489 until 1603, when James I, crowned King of England and Scotland, chose not to have his likeness on the obverse side of the Sovereign. 

Over the next two hundred years, the Gold Sovereign was gradually replaced by other gold coins of the British Empire.

After the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the British government reintroduced the Gold Sovereign with The Great Recoinage Law of 1816; minting of the Gold Sovereign restarted in 1817 and continues to this day.

The 1816 Great Recoinage Law set the Sovereign's gold content at 7.32 grams (113 grains / 0.2354 troy oz) with a total weight of 7.99 grams.

Since 1817, the Gold Sovereign has been minted in these British Commonwealths: Australia (1855-1931), India (1918), Canada (1908-1919), and South Africa (1923).

At the height of the British Empire, the Gold Sovereign was the most widely circulated currency.

Below, you will find the mintage figures of the Full, Half and Quarter gold sovereigns, dating back to 1957.

photo provided courtesy of the Royal Mint




Design of the
Gold Sovereign



Obverse

The British Royal Family has had the custom of changing the way a monarch faces on coins since the 17th century. From 1952 through 2022, Queen Elizabeth II faced the right, and now the King of England, Charles III, faces the left.

Martin Jennings, the designer of King Charles III's portrait, stated the following about the effigy: "It is a privilege to sculpt the first official effigy of His Majesty and to receive his personal approval for the design."

2024 Full Gold Sovereign - King Charles

The obverse side of all the United Kingdom's 2024 coins features the effigy of King Charles III.

Inscriptions:

  • CHARLES III
  • DEI GRA  REX - stand for "Dei gratia rex," is a Latin title meaning "By the Grace of God, King" 
  • FID DEF - translates to "fidei defensor," is a Latin title that translates into "Defender of the Faith" in English. The phrases have been used regularly on British coinage since the 16th century.
  • MJ -  Martin Jenning's initials under the King's neck. (click image to enlarge)

Read more about the Royal Mint's unveiling of the King's effigy here.

The Government of the United Kingdom has guaranteed the bullion coin as legal tender and is Tax-Exempt from Capital Gains for the residents of the United Kingdom.

Coin Photos provided courtesy of the Royal Mint








Reverse

2024 Full Gold Sovereign - King Charles - Reverse side

The reverse side of the British Sovereign coin depicts St. George slaying the dragon, created by Benedetto Pistrucci.

Pistrucci's design features Saint George on horseback.  His left hand clutches the rein of his horse's bridle; he is not wearing armor other than on his lower leg and the helmet on his head.

Flowing behind St. George is his cloak; his right shoulder bears a balteus for suspending the sword that he clutches in his right hand.

He is otherwise naked, while the saint's horse is over the dragon. The dragon lies wounded by St. George's sword and is dying.

Inscriptions:

  • Year of Issue
  • Benedetto Pistrucci's initials, "B.P." below the dying dragon

The coin's edge is reeded.

Coin Photos provided courtesy of the Royal Mint








Five (Quintuple) Gold Sovereign
Coin Information

First Introduced:........................1820

IRA Approved:............................No

Grade:........................................Uncirculated

Face Value:................................Five Pound Sterling

Gold Content:.............................1.17 troy oz.

Total Weight:..............................39.94 grams

Purity:........................................916.67

Karat:........................................22 karat

Diameter:...................................28.40mm

Thickness:..................................2.00mm

Designers Obverse:.....................Ian Rank Broadley FRBS (1998-2014)

Designers Obverse:.....................Jody Clark (2015 - 2022)

Designers Obverse:.....................Martin Jennings (2022 - Present)

Designers Reverse:.....................Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse 1817 to present)

Mint Mark:..................................No

Edge:.........................................Reeded






Double Gold Sovereign
Coin Information

First Introduced:........................1820

IRA Approved:............................No

Grade:........................................Uncirculated

Face Value:................................Two Pound Sterling

Gold Content:.............................0.47 troy oz.

Total Weight:..............................15.976 grams

Purity:........................................916.67

Karat:........................................22 karat

Diameter:...................................28.40mm

Thickness:..................................2.00mm

Designers Obverse:.....................Ian Rank Broadley FRBS (1998-2014)

Designers Obverse:.....................Jody Clark (2015 - 2022)

Designers Obverse:.....................Martin Jennings (2022 - Present)

Designers Reverse:.....................Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse 1817 to present)

Mint Mark:..................................No

Edge:.........................................Reeded






Full Gold Sovereign
Coin Information

First Introduced:.........................1489

Date Issued in Current Format:....1817

IRA Approved:.............................No

Grade:........................................Uncirculated

Face Value:................................One Pound Sterling

Gold Content:.............................7.32 grams / 0.235 troy oz.

Total Weight:..............................7.987 grams

Purity:........................................916.67

Karat:.........................................22 karat

Diameter:...................................22.05mm

Thickness:..................................1.52mm

Designers Obverse:.....................Ian Rank Broadley FRBS (1998-2014)

Designers Obverse:.....................Jody Clark (2015 - 2022)

Designers Obverse:.....................Martin Jennings (2022 - Present)

Designers Reverse:.....................Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse 1817 to present)

Mint Mark:..................................No

Edge:.........................................Reeded






Half Gold Sovereign
Coin Information

Introduction:..............................1544

IRA Approved:.............................No

Grade:........................................Uncirculated

Face Value:................................£0.50

Metal Content:............................0.1177 Troy oz.

Total Weight:..............................3.99 grams

Purity:........................................916.67

Diameter:...................................19.30mm

Thickness:..................................0.99mm

Designers Obverse:.....................Ian Rank Broadley FRBS (1998-2014)

Designers Obverse:.....................Jody Clark (2015 - 2022)

Designers Obverse:.....................Martin Jennings (2022 - Present)

Designers Reverse:.....................Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse 1817 to present)

Mint Mark:..................................No

Edge:.........................................Reeded






Quarter Gold Sovereign
Coin Information

Introduction:............................2009

IRA Approved:...........................No

Grade:......................................Uncirculated

Face Value:...............................£0.25

Total Weight:............................1.99 grams

Metal Content:..........................0.059 Troy oz.

Purity:......................................916.67

Karat:......................................22 karat

Diameter:................................13.50mm

Designers Obverse:..................Ian Rank Broadley FRBS (2009-2014)

Designers Obverse:..................Jody Clark (2015 - 2022)

Designers Obverse:..................Martin Jennings (2022 - Present)

Designers Reverse:..................Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse 1817 to present)

Mint Mark:...............................No

Edge:......................................Reeded






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Gold Sovereign Bullion Coin
Mintage Figures



Year.......Sovereign........Half Sovereign.......Quarter-Sovereign


1957.......2,072,000


1958.......8,700,140


1959.......1,358,228


1960.......unknown


1961.......unknown


1962.......3,000,000


1963.......7,400,000


1964.......3,000,000


1965.......3,800,000


1966.......7,050,000


1967.......5,000,000


1968.......4,203,000


1969.......Not Minted


1970.......Not Minted


1971.......Not Minted


1972....... Not Minted


1973....... Not Minted


1974.......5,002,566


1975.......1  (One Sovereign coin was struck in 1975 as the final coin from Tower Hill in London before the facility closed.)


1976.......4,045,056


1976.......Not Minted


1978.......6,555,000


1979.......9,100,000


1980.......5,100,000


1981.......5,000,000


1982.......2,950,000............2,500,000


From 1983 and 1999, all Sovereign coins were minted in proof form, no bullion coins were minted.


2000.......129,069...............146,822


2001.......49,462.................94,763


2002.......75,264.................61,347


2003.......43,230.................47,818


2004.......30,688.................34,924


2005.......45,542.................30,299


2006.......33,012.................75,000


2007.......27,628.................75,000


2008.......58,894.................75,000


2009.......60,292................50,000..................50,000


2010.......243,158..............16,485..................8,985 


2011.......253,773..............50,000..................50,000


2012.......432,925..............250,000................250,000


2013.......261,581.............250,000.................10,000


2014.......261,216...............9,900.................. NA


2015.......113,177..............5,000................... NA


2016.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2017.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2018.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2019.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2020.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2021.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2022.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


2023.......NA.....................NA....................... NA


• NA - Not Available

• For earlier Full & Half Gold Sovereign mintage figures visit: SVCollector.com & BullionbyPost.com




Gold Sovereign - Sources: 

The Royal Mint

The Chard "Sovereigns" page 

Wikipedia.org - Sovereigns page

Coins of Europe Catalog 1901-2013/2014






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