The Sovereign: Witness to History
Although 2017 signals the 200th anniversary of The Sovereign’s revival, the coin’s story can be traced back five centuries. The Sovereign was originally issued in 1489 when Henry VII ordered the creation of a ‘new money of gold’.
The early nineteenth century was a defining moment for the coin. The Napoleonic Wars had drained the United Kingdom of silver, leaving Britain’s coinage in a poor state. The British government passed laws to strengthen its currency and the Gold Standard was introduced, formalising the coins that would be made and the standards to which they would be struck. The modern Sovereign was born.
Master of the Mint, William Wellesley Pole, wanted the new national coins to be unrivalled in design. He knew that the fiery but gifted Benedetto Pistrucci, who had come to London under the patronage of the Prince Regent, was the only man for the job.
Pistrucci created the St George and the dragon design, now recognised internationally on The Sovereign as a symbol of quality and accuracy. To celebrate this important anniversary we return to the engraver’s original vision, with the full garter border and Old French inscription ‘HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE’ or ‘Evil unto him that thinks evil of it’.