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The Sovereign vs Britannia

Last Updated March 2023

Category: Invest


Gold Sovereigns and gold Britannia coins are amongst the United Kingdom’s most popular gold bullion coins, and are favourites with investors across the nation. Here, we detail the important distinctions between these two iconic coins to help you decide which investment is right for you.



The Royal Mint struck the first gold Sovereign in 1489 and it has survived retirement, rebirth and reform to become one of the most trusted bullion coins in existence. Britannia first appeared on coins around AD 119 and became the face of modern bullion in 1987. Since then, the coin has evolved and, with the recent enhancement of four advanced security features, Britannia is now considered the most visually secure bullion coin in the world.



1. The Price of The Sovereign vs Britannia

One of the most important considerations is, of course, the price of each coin. Weighing in at one troy ounce, our gold Britannia bullion coin is around four times heavier than The Sovereign, making it more expensive. Some investors, particularly those looking to make entry-level purchases, value the accessibility of The Sovereign, thanks to its lower price point. In comparison to the ease of entry into investing that The Sovereign provides, Britannia offers a greater economy of scale, because the cost of its production is lower as a percentage of its price.

2. The Liquidity of Gold Bullion Coins

The international popularity of both Britannia and The Sovereign makes them extremely sought-after and the size of the secondary market for these coins means that owners can sell them when they want to liquidise their investment.

The Sovereign was originally traded by merchants and later gained a reputation as one of the most tightly specified coins in existence. In the nineteenth century, it was recognised as the ‘chief coin of the world’, particularly across the Middle East, India and the Eastern Mediterranean, thanks to its long history as a trusted store of wealth.

In recent years, demand for the Britannia bullion coin has grown exponentially, particularly since the introduction of its four state-of-the-art security features in 2021. These make the coin very difficult to replicate or counterfeit, and has secured its position as one of the most visually secure bullion coins in the world.




3. Tax-Exempt Gold Bullion Coins

Due to their investment-grade status, both The Sovereign and Britannia are exempt from VAT for most non-VAT-registered individuals. In addition, due to their classification as legal tender, they are exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for UK residents. This means that if investors based in the UK sell The Sovereign or Britannia coins, any profit from the sale will be exempt from tax. This contrasts with some other bullion coins, as well as other investments and assets, including paintings, antiques and any property other than an individual’s main residence, on which any profit is liable for CGT.

4. Coin Design

Whereas the first Britannia bullion coin was produced in 1987, bullion editions of The Sovereign have been around for three decades longer, with the first Sovereign bullion coin being struck in 1957. Many collector-investors enjoy purchasing The Sovereign featuring different monarchs on the obverse of each coin. At The Royal Mint, as well as selling modern-day bullion Sovereigns bearing the effigy of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, we also offer a range of historic Sovereigns featuring portraits of monarchs such as Queen Victoria, George V and Edward VII. Britannia is seen as symbolising ‘the spirit of a nation’, whilst The Sovereign represents the power and enduring nature of the British monarchy.




5. Gold Coin Denominations

Both The Sovereign and Britannia coins are available in fractional denominations. The Sovereign bullion coin is usually available as a Quarter-Sovereign, Half-Sovereign, Sovereign and Double-Sovereign, whilst Britannia bullion coins are usually available in tenth-ounce, quarter-ounce, half-ounce and one ounce editions. When comparing the full-sized coins, The Sovereign is about four times lighter in weight than the Britannia 1oz coin and, therefore, is not as valuable in terms of precious metal content.


The Sovereign vs Britannia – A Personal Choice

Whilst many investors choose to own a combination of The Sovereign and Britannia bullion coins, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference and individual circumstances. Many new investors or those looking to make a modest investment will often opt for The Sovereign because of its lower price point and the flexibility it offers in terms of both buying and selling. Those looking to make a more considerable investment often tend to choose Britannia, as it offers the most value for money per ounce of gold.


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