The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of one pound sterling. Struck from 1817 until the present time, it was originally a circulating coin (see pre-decimal Sovereign) accepted in Britain and elsewhere in the world; it is now a bullion coin not intended for circulation, the intrinsic value of which is much higher than its face value.
In most recent years, it has borne on the reverse Benedetto Pistrucci's design of Saint George and the Dragon, created in 1817. Occasionally, the Royal Mint also releases one-year types with different designs, as a celebration for major events (usually Royal in nature)..
There are several denominations of the Sovereign: Five Sovereigns (Quintuple Sovereign, five pounds gold), Double Sovereign, Full Sovereign, Half Sovereign and Quarter Sovereign; the current five sovereign piece - with face value of £5 is a continuation of the pre-decimal gold five pounds, and has been issued as a decimal coin since 1980.
The designs of all denominations are identical, as - according to tradition - this type of coin has never had its value and denomination spelled out anywhere on the coin. The various denominations are normally only distinguished by size and weight, these being exactly in proportion to their face value; however, five pound pieces issued after 2009 are an exception in that they have the designer's full name PISTRUCCI in the exergue and not just his initials.
Since 1817, the composition has always been 22 carat (91.67%) gold.