The Gold Sovereign is perhaps the World’s most famous gold bullion coin. The modern British Sovereign gold coin was first issued in 1817. The British Sovereign is a 22 Karat gold bullion coin. The metallic composition is 11 parts gold and 1 part copper. This works out to 92% gold and 8% copper. This gold-copper alloy is known as “Crown Gold.“ The gold content of the Sovereign is 0.2354 Troy ounces or 7.322 grams. Thus the Gold Sovereign is “about“ one-quarter of an ounce of pure gold. A “Half Sovereign“ has also been issued since 1817 and contains one-half the gold content of the “full Sovereign.“ Like the Krugerrand gold bullion coin, the British Sovereign gold coin bears no currency value.
The obverse (“heads“) side of the British Sovereign gold coin shows the portrait of the reigning British monarch at the time the coin was issued. The modern coin shows the portrait of monarchs from George III to Elizabeth II. The names of the monarchs are given in an arch around the edge of coin accompanied with a title or appellation in Latin. For example, “ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF“ which translates to “Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of Faith.“
The reverse (“tails“) side of the British Sovereign gold coin varies between renditions of “Saint George Slaying the Dragon“ and the heraldic shield of the monarch on the obverse. The modern version of the coin minted under George III shows “Saint George Slaying the Dragon“ designed by the Italian artist and engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. The reverse side shows the date at the bottom. Note: the date is not necessarily the date of mintage – it is the date the die was made.
Here are a few interesting facts about the British Sovereign gold coin. The British Sovereign was first issued in 1489 for Henry VII of England. One billion Gold Sovereign coins have been minted to date. Gold Sovereigns were issued until 1914 when Britain abandoned the gold standard. After that, sovereigns were produced by branch mints at Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Bombay, Ottawa, and Pretoria. The last issue of the gold coin was in 1932 at Pretoria until production resumed in 1957 and continues to date. In the movie “From Russia with Love“ James Bond is given a special briefcase by Q that contains 50 gold sovereigns hidden in the lining. At the time Bond sees little need for the coins. Toward the end of the movie Bond is cornered by an assassin. Bond tells the villain about the gold coins in the briefcase – but when the greedy bad guy opens the case it explodes - and Bond lives to make another movie.
Diameter: 22.05 mm.
Thickness: 1.0 to 1.4 mms.
Gross Weight: 7.9881 grams.
Gold Weight: 7.3224 grams (0.235421 troy ounces).