In 1489 King Henry VII instructed The Royal Mint to produce ‘a new money of gold’ to help stabilise the legitimacy of his new ruling dynasty. The largest coin yet seen in England, both in size and value, it was given the name Sovereign. A powerful political statement, it was struck in turn by each of the Tudor monarchs until the reign of James I, before disappearing for 200 years.
In 1817, The Sovereign was revived as part of the great coinage reform that followed the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Although only about half the size of the original, the new coin more than matched the beauty of its predecessor. The traditional heraldic reverse was abandoned in favour of St George and the dragon by the Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci - a numismatic classic that has become synonymous with The Sovereign and endures to the present day.
The financial demands of the First World War brought about the end of The Sovereign as a circulating coin. Today it survives as a bullion and commemorative coin – one of the world’s oldest coins still in production. Every example of the ‘chief coin of the world’ is testament to uncompromising standards and unrivalled accuracy – the pinnacle of minting excellence.
Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS portrait
The idea of replacing the Maklouf portrait came about during a competition to design the obverse of the 1997 Golden Wedding crown. The standard of entries for the conjoint portrait of The Queen and Prince Philip was so high that it was decided to explore the possibility of a new coinage portrait for circulating coins, too.
The winning design by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, introduced in 1998, makes for an interesting contrast with its predecessor, being less idealised and more strongly realistic. Ian Rank-Broadley explained there was: “No need to disguise the matureness of The Queen’s years. There is no need to flatter her. She is a 70-year-old woman with poise and bearing.” The portrait also appeared as large as possible within the framework of the coin, as he wanted to maximise its impact on smaller coins like the new 5p, 10p and 50p pieces.
The first gold Sovereign to feature this special portrait was the 1998 Proof and the last was the 2015 Proof Sovereign.
|Alloy||22 Carat Gold|
|Reverse Designer||Benedetto Pistrucci|
|Obverse Designer||Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS|
|Pure Metal Type||Gold|