Marking 100 Years Since The Royal Mint’s Flagship Sovereign Coin Boosted Britain’s War Effort

01 Nov 2013

The Royal Mint today announces the release of The Sovereign 2014 Collection.

Struck in 22 carat gold, this world-famous coin once again bears on its reverse the legendary St George and the dragon design, first created for The Sovereign of 1817 by Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci.  The launch of The Sovereign 2014 Collection marks 100 years since this iconic coin played a major part in the success of Britain’s war effort.

Throughout the 19th century, The Sovereign came to be known as “the chief coin of the world”, and was so revered and trusted that it was a recognised currency across the globe.  However, at the outbreak of the First World War, Britain needed money to finance the war effort, leading to appeals to the patriotism of British citizens to give up their Sovereigns for their country. Banknotes were introduced into regular circulation, and within a few years, The Sovereign ceased to be used in everyday transactions.

In preparation for the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War that will be remembered in 2014, The Royal Mint has delved into its archives and released posters from the time urging the public to donate their gold coins for the war effort.   The Royal Mint has also created a richly detailed booklet to accompany this year’s release that explores the once “golden age” of The Sovereign and its rich and varied history.   Production of The Sovereign as a circulation coin stopped completely in 1917.

Kevin Clancy, Director of Royal Mint Museum said: 
“The Sovereign had underpinned an Empire, but the First World War brought the circulating gold coinage to an end almost overnight.

“This year’s Sovereign Collection is therefore especially symbolic for us here at The Royal Mint and we have delved into the archives to tell the remarkable story of this 500 year old coin. We can trace the first gold Sovereign back to 1489 when it was struck for Henry VII”.

Although The Sovereign would disappear from circulation after the outbreak of the First World War, its desirability did not waver and in 1957 such was the call for The Sovereign that The Royal Mint re-commenced striking of the coin for those keen to own gold.

Known for being one of history’s most famous coins, The Sovereign is recognised globally as a symbol of uncompromising standards and minting excellence.  It is now a highly collectible coin, with its annual “release” from The Royal Mint much anticipated by collectors the world over. It has also come to play a key role as a gift to mark a birth or christening.

The classic Pistrucci design will feature across the entire Sovereign 2014 Collection, struck in either Royal Mint Proof quality or Brilliant Uncirculated quality in 22 carat gold.  The Collection includes a prestigious Five-Sovereign Piece, The Double Sovereign (a coin which has twice the weight and twice the gold content of a standard Sovereign), a Half-Sovereign, a Quarter-Sovereign and the prestigious Sovereign itself – the flagship coin of The Royal Mint.

With editions strictly limited in numbers, each coin is accompanied by a numbered certificate of authenticity and a booklet telling the story of The Sovereign of 1914.