The 2018 Sovereign brings this historic coin into a new century. The 2017 issue marked the 200th anniversary of the modern sovereign’s original issue in 1817. The issue will consist of proof and bullion full and half versions. The full sovereign will weigh 7.988 grams with an actual gold weight of .2354 Troy oz., while the half sovereign will weigh 3.99 g, of which 3.6575 is gold. Both coins will be struck from .9167 fine gold.
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When it comes to coins that are rich in history, the Sovereign is in a class of its own. The original sovereign was minted in response to King Henry VII’s order on Oct. 28, 1489. The King ordered the Royal Mint to make “a new money of gold.” The result was the largest coin ever produced in England, not only in terms of size but also in terms of value. The elegant coin projected a message of the king’s dignity and the political stability that the monarchy provided. The coin continued to be minted until the reign of King James I.
The Sovereign returned with new designs in 1817 when Britain adopted gold as the “sole Standard Measure of Value.” In modern parlance, they adopted the gold standard. The new Sovereign was less than half of the weight of the original, yet the new coin’s beauty and splendor were then and continue to be today regarded as superior to it.
The St. George design on the reverse, which continues its rich tradition on the 2018 issue, has featured on the Sovereign every year since with only four exceptions, 1889, 2002, 2005 and 2012. Three of those four marked historic occasions, while the fourth, Timothy Noad’s simply offered a modern interpretation of the classic design. The 1989 issue marked the 500th anniversary of the 1489 commission of King George. In 2002, the Royal Mint celebrated the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, more commonly referred to as the Golden Jubilee. In 2012, the Royal Mint marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with a special commission. Although the design by Paul Day was unique, it retained the theme of St. George slaying a dragon.
For centuries, the Sovereign has symbolized strength, stability, and honor. Modern coins pale in comparison to this rich history of this series, which is fitting given the prominent role that Britain has played and continues to play in world affairs. For collectors who appreciate connections of past and present, continuity and stability, and an unblemished commitment to the ultimate triumph of good over evil, the Sovereign is the unparalleled leader.
The reverse features a powerful design by Benedetto Pistrucci. St. George, the patron saint of England, slays a dragon. St. George is on horseback in ancient military style, with his well-defined muscles on full display. His cap waves behind him and his horse kicks rears back with its front legs in the air. The powerful figure holds his sword in his right hand preparing to finish off the wounded dragon, which represented Satan in the Middle Ages. The date is inscribed below, as are the initials of the designer, “B.P.”
On the obverse is a portrait of reigning British monarch Queen Elizabeth II. Designed by Jody Clark, it shows her majesty wearing a royal diamond diadem. She wears that crown to and from the State Opening of Parliament every year. Her portrait is encircled by her name and a Latin abbreviation of her title. Together, they read, “ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF,” which means, “Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.”
The Royal Mint is expected to release the 2018 Sovereign in January.
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