The History of the Half-Sovereign

Last Updated September 2023

Category: Collect

The Half-Sovereign is a significant British coin that became established as a 10-shilling piece. Often used in jewellery, such as a Half-Sovereign ring, it has its own intrinsic value and rich history.


Timeline of the Half-Sovereign


1544 – The Half-Sovereign is Named

Although the gold Sovereign was first introduced in 1489 during the reign of Henry VII, it was not until 1544, during the reign of Henry VIII, that the name ‘Half-Sovereign’ is used. The Half-Sovereign has been through many changes since its introduction, surviving disappearances from British coinage and making triumphant comebacks.


1604 – Half-Sovereign Production Stopped

The Half-Sovereign was consistently struck for most British monarchs until the early part of James I’s reign, as both Sovereigns and Half-Sovereigns were discontinued at the start of his reign.



After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain looked to reform its coinage after the turbulence of decades of war. This created the circumstances for the return of both The Sovereign and Half-Sovereign.


1893 – Pistrucci Design Introduced

The reverse of the new Sovereign featured the now iconic St George and the dragon design by Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. However, the Half-Sovereign carried a Royal Coat of Arms until 1893, when Pistrucci’s design, which often appears on Half-Sovereigns struck today, replaced the design.



1915 – Production Halted

In the early twentieth century, the use of gold was strongly discouraged, as the UK needed all available gold bullion to fight the First World War. Sovereign and Half-Sovereign production at The Royal Mint in London halted in the coming years, dropping from many millions at the start of the war to zero in 1918.


1982 – Half-Sovereigns Reintroduced

The Half-Sovereign reappeared in the early 1980s. Since then, it has been a popular gift at christenings and other special occasions and has been in demand for use in the manufacture of jewellery, such as the Half-Sovereign ring.


2022 – Last Half-Sovereign of Queen Elizabeth II

The Half-Sovereign 2022 is struck in 22 carat gold to The Royal Mint’s bullion standard. It is the final Half-Sovereign to feature Jody Clark’s definitive coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and boasts an exclusive reverse design of the Royal Arms in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee by Timothy Noad.



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