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The 2019 Gold Sovereign Coin

The British gold Sovereign is perhaps the most globally recognised coin and enjoys one of the richest histories of any gold coin design. First issued in 1489 during the reign of King Henry VII, it has since undergone various changes as it has been issued to various Kings and Queens throughout the ages.

First produced as a symbol of national strength and wealth, the coin was designed to project prestige, and as such, took the name of the ‘Sovereign’ and depicted the king on his throne, proud and grand in appearance with the Royal Arms of England and a Tudor double rose on the reverse.

A significant origin for a coin that became known as ‘the chief coin in the world’, the gold Sovereign went on to experience various changes as the British Empire evolved – and even now as we celebrate the release of the 2019 gold sovereign coin, this beautiful item continues to attract modern collectors.

The gold Sovereign is now a modern classic and precious metal investors, avid collectors and history buffs alike will be pleased to know that the royal mint 2019 gold sovereign is now in stock! But before you secure your purchase, take a look at the unique heritage behind this fascinating coin.

Origins of the Gold Sovereign

First minted over 500 years ago, it’s no surprise that the 2019 gold Sovereign coin commands a great deal of respect as a coin that offers more than just a sound investment, but also a great deal of cultural and historical significance.

If you follow the coin’s chequered history that spans huge changes to the British Empire, you’ll find that the Sovereign has played a fundamental role in the country’s evolution. It offers a symbol of quality when it comes to the gold bullion market.

Interestingly, the first gold Sovereign coin was the largest in value at 23 carats (95.83 per cent) gold. It was also much larger in size than modern versions such as the gold Sovereign (2019) that has been recently released.

Struck on the 28th October 1489, this new coin was requested by King Henry VII as a statement of England’s power and stability. As such, it featured the king himself in full coronation regalia.

Despite being an impressive origin to a coin that still exists today (albeit in a very different form) production of the first gold sovereigns eventually came to an end in 1604.


After England defeated Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, the coin was struck again in 1817. As Britain’s finances were unstable, it was believed that the ‘Great Recoinage’, as it was called, would be the appropriate reform to steady the economy and bring uniformity to the national currency. And in many respects this was successful.  

This coin, which was designed to bolster the national economy held a monetary value of 20 shillings (one pound) at the time. Also, the new 22 carat gold coin was much smaller in size and therefore could be used more practically during exchanges and trade. The gold sovereign weight was changed to 7.98 grams and this is still the case with contemporary designs, featured most recently with the royal mint 2019 gold sovereign.

St George and the Dragon

This design of St George and the Dragon is perhaps the most recognisable coin related image in the world.  It is also what many of us associate with the gold sovereign although the coin has had many different designs throughout time.

Designed by engraver Benedetto Pistrucci, this adaptation featuring the ancient tale of bravery and loyalty is still used today. Pistrucci’s design is featured on most bullion coins of the 20th Century and therefore holds an important place in the history of the British gold sovereign.

Global Expansion

The Royal Mint also built numerous branches across the British Empire where new coins were struck. The Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth each had their own mint, which linked the country to Britain. India, South Africa and Canada also had their own mints and subsequently their own unique history was tied with the development of the UK’s global expansion.

Coins from these Royal Mint locations outside of Britain featured distinguishing marks so that owners could tell where their gold coins had been produced. For example, gold Sovereigns from India have a small ‘I’ engraved into the designs that collectors can spot if they look hard enough.

Victorian Sovereigns

Some of the most significant and popular gold sovereign coin designs originate from the period when Queen Victoria reigned during the 1800s. She was of course one of the most popular monarchs of the nation and enjoyed numerous unique designs dedicated to her throughout the time she ruled over the British Empire.

To match the different periods of the Queen’s maturity, the gold Sovereign coin design was adapted accordingly. The Victoria 'Young Head' (1838 until 1887) design depicted a youthful illustration of Queen Victoria capturing the beginning of her reign.

There was also the Victoria 'Jubilee Head' (1887 to 1893) design that portrayed Queen Victoria as a matronly and imperious figure, as the Empire powerfully stretched across the world.

Finally, the Victoria veiled ‘Old Head’ (1893 to 1901) design focused on the ageing, beloved queen engraved with a veil over her headdress.

Financing WWI

The gold Sovereign played a very important part in WWI. Specifically, it was used to finance the war effort and support the Bank of England’s reserve during a time when the nation needed it most. The large amounts that the government held in store as well as gold that commonly circulated among the people was all put towards the funding of the war effort.

This period also saw the end of the gold Sovereign too for a short time, as circulating coins were traded for new Treasury notes. Citizens were called upon to trade in their gold coins for new Treasury notes and as such they eventually replaced the coin as a method of monetary transaction.

It wasn’t until 1957 when demand for the coin spiked that the gold Sovereign was reintroduced.

Today’s Gold Sovereign

The Royal Mint began manufacturing Sovereign coins again in 1957 as bullion coins. And today these beautiful historical items are used as a form of investment rather than for everyday use. Collectors, investors and anyone interested in the history of the British Empire however will still be able to enjoy this fascinating coin with such a rich and diverse history.

As the 2019 gold Sovereign coin is now in stock, we can once again look back at how this important coin played such a key role in Britain’s history throughout the ages. And now you’ve had a reminder of just how significant this coin design is, why not go ahead and add the 2019 gold Sovereign coin to your collection?

Article Last Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2019