The Sovereign in the First World War | The Royal Mint

The Sovereign in the First World War

Since 1817 The Sovereign had been a 22 carat gold coin worth £1 or 20 shillings.

By the early twentieth century, it was firmly established as a part of Britain’s circulating currency. However, gold was playing a much less important role in the nation’s coinage. When the First World War broke out, The Sovereign had already survived several attempts at its withdrawal but even the ‘chief coin of the world’ could not survive the effects of the war.

Within days of the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, the Government asked the public to hand in its gold Sovereigns. The Government used the precious metal to pay off its international debt, support the Bank of England’s reserves and finance the war effort.

Only a day after the outbreak of war, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, explained just how important it was:

“Anyone who, from selfish motives of greed or from excessive caution or cowardice, goes out of his way to attempt to withdraw sums of gold and appropriate them to his own use – let it be clearly understood that he is assisting the enemies of his native land, and he is assisting them more effectively probably than if he were to take up arms.”

The Sovereign during the First World War in numbers

 Bombay MintLondon MintMelbourne MintOttawa MintPerth MintSydney Mint
1913  0 24,539,672 2,323,180 3,717 0 2,249,000
1914 0 11,501,117 2,012,029 14,900 4,815,996 1,774,000
1915 0 20,295,280 1,637,839 0 4,373,596 1,346,000
1916 0 1,554,120 1,272,634 6,119 4,096,721 1,242,000
1917 0 1,014,714 934,469 58,875 4,110,286 1,666,000
1918 1,294,372 0 4,809,493 106,570 3,812,884 3,716,000
1919 0 0 514,257 135,957 2,995,216 1,835,000


The 1914 Sovereign is a commemorative coin that marks the end of the golden age of The Sovereign. This beautiful coin is a tribute to the brave men and women who fought for their country, as we remember the sacrifices they made and give thanks for the peace we enjoy today. 


The 2014 Proof Sovereign would be a special gift for anyone who is interested in the nation’s political or military history, or someone who has personal links with the events of the First World War. 

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