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.”

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