Sovereign (Pre-Decimal), Coin Type from United Kingdom - detailed information

Sovereign (Pre-Decimal), Coin Type from United Kingdom (issued 1817 - 1968)
Coin TypeSovereign (Pre-Decimal)

The sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of one pound sterling. Prior to 1932 it was a fully circulating coin within Britain's then Gold Standard currency.

Sovereigns have been minted in the United Kingdom from 1817 to 1917, in 1925, and from 1957 to the present. In the past Australia, Canada, and South Africa all occasionally minted the coins.

In Victorian times it was the practice of the Bank of England to remove worn sovereigns and half sovereigns from circulation and to have them recoined. Consequently, although a billion sovereigns have been minted in total, that figure includes gold that has been coined and recoined a number of times. In addition, when coins were sent to places such as the United States for international payments between governments, they were frequently melted down into gold bars because of the Federal regulations then in force. When gold coins were finally withdrawn from circulation in 1933 in the US, many thousands of British gold sovereigns were consigned to the melting pot in this way.

It is estimated that in circulation a sovereign could have a lifespan of up to 15 years before it fell below the "least current weight", that is, the minimum amount of gold below which it ceased to be legal tender.

English law allows a sovereign to be legal tender so long as it weighs 7.93787 g (0.280000 oz), or more; and the difference between this and the full standard weight of 7.98805 g (0.281770 oz) (approx. 0.6%) represents the margin allowed for abrasion.

It was actually the half-sovereign that had the most circulation in Victorian Britain. Many sovereigns languished in bank vaults for most of their lives. In 1889 and 1890 Orders in Council were made permitting members of the general public to hand in any gold coins that were underweight and have them replaced by full-weight coins. A proclamation was subsequently issued in November 1890 that any gold coin struck before 1837 would cease to be legal tender with effect from 28 February 1891. This recycled gold was subsequently reminted into 13,680,486 half sovereigns in 1892 and 10,846,741 sovereigns in 1900. (Both figures are for the London branch of the Royal Mint.)

Sovereign obverse (heads) dies were also used in the nineteenth century to create farthings once they had become worn. (An obverse die could typically produce 100,000 coins.)

Composition: 0.9167 gold, 0.0833 copper.

Obverse

Effigy of the monarch, legend.

Obverse Inscription
Reverse

Reverse Inscription
EdgeMilledEdge InscriptionNone
Notes

If you keep your coins in 2x2 cardboard holders, the best size for one sovereign coins is 22.5mm.

References to additional information:

[Book] Marsh, Michael A., M.A. Marsh Publications 2002. The Gold Sovereign.

Coin Type: Sovereign (Pre-Decimal) - (148) Coins (Page 1 of 2)
Coin NameMintageEffigyLegend
Sovereign 1817 3,235,239 Portrait by Benedetto Pistrucci (Laureate Head) GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: 1817
Sovereign 1818 2,347,230 Portrait by Benedetto Pistrucci (Laureate Head) GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: 1818
Sovereign 1819 3,574 Portrait by Benedetto Pistrucci (Laureate Head) GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: 1819
Sovereign 1820 931,994 Portrait by Benedetto Pistrucci (Laureate Head) GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D: 1820
Sovereign 1821 9,405,114 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1822 5,356,787 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1823 616,770 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1824 St George 3,767,904 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1824 Shield (Pattern) unknown King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1824
Sovereign 1825 St George 4,200,343 King George IV - Laureate Head GEORGIUS IIII D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1825 Shield 4,200,343 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1825
Sovereign 1826 5,724,196 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1826
Sovereign 1827 2,266,629 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1827
Sovereign 1828 386,182 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1828
Sovereign 1829 2,444,652 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1829
Sovereign 1830 George IV 2,387,881 King George IV - Bare Head GEORGIUS IV DEI GRATIA 1830
Sovereign 1830 William IV unknown King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII D:G: BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1831 598,697 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1832 3,737,065 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1833 1,225,269 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1835 723,441 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1836 1,714,349 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1837 William IV 1,172,984 King William IV - Bare Head GULIELMUS IIII BRITANNIAR: REX F: D:
Sovereign 1837 Victoria unknown Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1837
Sovereign 1838 2,718,694 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1838
Sovereign 1839 503,695 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1839
Sovereign 1841 124,054 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1841
Sovereign 1842 4,865,375 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1842
Sovereign 1843 5,981,968 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1843
Sovereign 1844 3,000,445 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1844
Sovereign 1845 3,800,845 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1845
Sovereign 1846 3,802,947 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1846
Sovereign 1847 4,667,126 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1847
Sovereign 1848 2,246,701 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1848
Sovereign 1849 1,755,399 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1849
Sovereign 1850 1,402,039 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1850
Sovereign 1851 4,013,624 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1851
Sovereign 1852 8,053,435 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1852
Sovereign 1853 10,597,993 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1853
Sovereign 1854 3,589,611 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1854
Sovereign 1855 8,448,482 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1855
Sovereign 1856 4,806,160 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1856
Sovereign 1857 4,495,748 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1857
Sovereign 1858 803,234 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1858
Sovereign 1859 1,715,142 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1859
Sovereign 1860 2,555,958 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1860
Sovereign 1861 7,624,736 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1861
Sovereign 1862 7,836,413 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1862
Sovereign 1863 5,921,669 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1863
Sovereign 1864 8,656,352 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1864
Sovereign 1865 1,450,238 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1865
Sovereign 1866 4,047,288 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1866
Sovereign 1868 1,653,384 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1868
Sovereign 1869 6,441,322 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1869
Sovereign 1870 2,189,960 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1870
Sovereign 1871 Shield 11,581,250 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1871
Sovereign 1871 St George 11,581,250 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D:
Sovereign 1872 Shield 16,049,708 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1872
Sovereign 1872 St George 16,049,708 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1873 Shield 3,846,215 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1873
Sovereign 1873 St George 4,598,215 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1874 Shield 1,893,713 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1874
Sovereign 1874 St George 3,792,713 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1875 Shield 2,122,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1875
Sovereign 1875 St George 4,010,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1876 St George 7,055,866 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1877 Shield 1,590,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1877
Sovereign 1877 St George 1,487,002 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1878 Shield 1,259,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1878
Sovereign 1878 St George 3,262,275 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1879 Shield 1,366,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1879
Sovereign 1879 St George 4,126,013 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1880 Shield 4,511,800 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1880
Sovereign 1880 St George 8,161,880 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1881 Shield 3,684,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1881
Sovereign 1881 St George 3,684,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1882 Shield 3,764,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1882
Sovereign 1882 St George 3,764,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1883 Shield 1,535,450 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1883
Sovereign 1883 St George 3,158,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1884 Shield 4,537,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1884
Sovereign 1884 St George 6,306,635 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1885 Shield 4,442,500 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1885
Sovereign 1885 St George 5,160,223 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1886 Shield 4,568,500 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1886
Sovereign 1886 St George 4,568,500 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1887 Shield 2,915,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA DEI GRATIA 1887
Sovereign 1887 St George, Young head 2,915,000 Queen Victoria - Young Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITANNIAR : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1887 St George, Jubilee head 3,054,077 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1888 7,294,424 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D :
Sovereign 1889 13,251,455 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1890 11,811,424 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1891 11,675,068 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1892 13,430,470 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1893 Jubilee head 3,147,352 Queen Victoria - Jubilee Head VICTORIA D : G : BRITT : REG : F : D
Sovereign 1893 Veiled head 10,159,433 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA DEI . GRA . BRITT . REGINA . FID . DEF . IND . IMP .
Sovereign 1894 11,016,485 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA DEI . GRA . BRITT . REGINA . FID . DEF . IND . IMP
Sovereign 1895 9,209,186 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA DEI . GRA . BRITT . REGINA . FID . DEF . IND . IMP
Sovereign 1896 10,334,997 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA DEI . GRA . BRITT . REGINA . FID . DEF . IND . IMP
Sovereign 1897 7,662,565 Queen Victoria - Veiled Head VICTORIA DEI . GRA . BRITT . REGINA . FID . DEF . IND . IMP
Showing 1 to 100 of 148 Coins.
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Sovereign (Pre-Decimal): Details
CountryUnited Kingdom
CurrencyPound Sterling (pre-decimal)
Sub-types Sovereign (pre-Victorian)
Sovereign (Shield)
Sovereign (St George)
From1817
To1968
Face Value1 (x Pound)
CurrentNo (demonetised 1971)
Material0.9167 Gold
Designer
TechnologyMilled (machine-made)
ShapeRound
Size22.050 mm
Thickness1.520 mm
Mass7.988 g
Sovereign (Pre-Decimal): Photos
ImageDetails
Coin - Sovereign, George III, Great Britain, 1820
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: St George, within garter (1817 - 1825).
Source
Proof Coin - Sovereign, William IV, Great Britain, 1831
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Source
Coin - Sovereign, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1843
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Crowned shield (1838 - 1887).
Source
Coin - Sovereign, Edward VII, Great Britain, 1902
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: St George (modern) (1871 - 1968).
Source
Coin - Sovereign, George III, Great Britain, 1820
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George III (1817 - 1820).
Source
Proof Coin - Sovereign, William IV, Great Britain, 1831
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King William IV (1830 - 1837).
Source
Coin - Sovereign, Queen Victoria, Great Britain, 1852
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: Queen Victoria, "Young Head" portrait (1838 - 1887).
Source
Coin - Sovereign, Edward VII, Great Britain, 1902
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King Edward VII (1902 - 1910).
Source
Coin - Sovereign, Canada, 1918
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George V (1911 - 1928).
Source
Proof Coin - Sovereign, Australia, 1930
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George V, "small head" (1929 - 1932).
Source
Proof Coin - Sovereign, George VI, Great Britain, 1937
Copyright: Museums Victoria / CC BY
Author:
Notes: King George VI (1937).
Source