11 Jul 2014
Relive the heyday of our 22 carat gold, iconic flagship coin, in glorious Proof editions
There are few coins which so perfectly encapsulate the full grandeur and pride of the British Empire as the gold sovereign. It is a coin which is steeped in history; originally minted under the reign of King Henry VII in 1489, it gets its name from the image of the ruling sovereign engraved on the obverse of the coin. It continued to be minted and used in currency until it stopped being made in 1604.
It was then re-introduced into the country in 1816 as part of the ‘Great Re-Coinage’ following the Industrial Revolution. The new 19th century sovereign coin was designed by Italian Pistrucci. This design featured the image of the patron saint of England, St George, slaying the dragon from legend and so retained all of the patriotic majesty as the original. The new gold sovereigns circulated until the early 20th century, when the custom of using gold coins as currency began to cease across Europe.
Sovereigns traditionally held a nominal value of 20 shillings, or one pound sterling. Quarter sovereigns and half sovereign coins also circulated as coins over lower value. Once the gold coins were revived in the 1950s however, they were regarded as bullion coins and have been ever since. This means that they are used more as investment coins and as such, are struck to a much higher quality than those which would have been found in circulation hundreds of years ago.
The gold sovereign coins available today once again bear Pistrucci’s image of St George and the dragon. This is in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who had the majestic image engraved on the first coins of her reign 60 years ago in 1953.
Today, every 22-carat gold sovereign is struck with meticulous care by Royal Mint craftsmen. There is a range to choose from, including quarter, half and full sovereign coins. They are also minted to Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof standard. Bullion sovereigns come in colourful packaging while the Proof quality gold sovereigns come in handsome presentation cases, making either coin an extremely attractive, opulent gift. All are subject to stringent mintage limits and are the choice, year on year, for collectors as well as those seeking a rare gift of gold.
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