1. The Birth of the Sovereign
In October 1489, King Henry VIII’s Royal Mint received an order to produce a new gold currency, leading to the creation of the very first sovereign coin.
2. The Iconic Design
The sovereign, weighing 15.55g and measuring 40mm in diameter, boasted a fineness of 23.3 carats. Its impressive size and striking appearance conveyed a message of stability and prestige. One side featured a portrait of Henry VII, while the reverse displayed a magnificent double rose.
3. The Reign of Sovereigns
Sovereigns were issued for monarchs such as Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I until the reign of James I, who ruled England and Scotland. After 115 years, the modern gold sovereign was reintroduced in 1817.
4. The Value of Sovereigns
A sovereign was equivalent to 20 shillings or £1, while a guinea was worth 21 shillings. Additionally, a £2 gold piece equated to 2 sovereigns, and a £5 gold piece was worth four sovereigns.
5. The Modern Sovereign
In 1817, the modern sovereign became an official currency. It was made of 22-carat gold, had half the weight and diameter of the original, and featured a reverse design showcasing St. George and the dragon.
6. Timeless Design
The sovereign’s reverse design has remained largely unchanged since 1817, with only a few variations introduced over the years. This classic design still adorns gold sovereigns today.
7. Victoria Young Head Sovereigns
Produced from 1838 to 1887, the Victoria Young Head sovereigns showcased two different reverse designs simultaneously. Rather than featuring a portrait of young Victoria, both coins displayed a shield until St. George and the Dragon was reintroduced from 1871 to 1887.
8. Paper Money Replaces the Sovereign
In 1914, paper money replaced the sovereign in Britain, and although it continued to be issued by colonial mints until 1932, it never made a permanent return.
9. The Value of Sovereigns
While sovereigns have been used in jewelry making, their value diminishes when they are cut or soldered. Nonetheless, the historical significance of the sovereign exceeds its gold weight.
10. Pawning Your Sovereign
If you wish to pawn your sovereign, visit our Manchester Central store where we can evaluate your items within 30 minutes and provide you with cash on the spot!