It is not surprising that gold gets a lot of attention. With their decision to continue printing paper money freely – and in unlimited quantities – the US Federal Reserve has contributed to the devaluation of the dollar. Subsequently the world economy is also weaker.
Investing in gold therefore seems like the only reasonable choice as once again the feisty yellow metal proves it moniker as the only “real money”. Gold Sovereign coins have even more reason to be taken as such: they were actually coins in circulation 100 years ago when the Great War started and they are still considered “precious” not so much thanks to their scarcity, but for their beauty and history as a store of value.
On Sunday, 18 June 1815 a French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by the armies of the Seventh Coalition, comprising an English army under the command of the Duke of Wellington combined with a Prussian army under the command of Gebhard von Blüch. The war in Europe ended near Waterloo, Belgium and it was the beginning of almost a century of peace and prosperity for Great Britain.
Sovereign coins in peace and war
The country celebrated the new era with the revival of a coin that was the emblem of English monarchy, representing the Crown’s “splendid isolation” policy for the following 90 years. This approach diminished in the early 1900s, as British interest was sparked by events in Europe, particularly the unification of Germany and the expansionist policies adopted by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Despite the Triple Entente alliance signed by King Edward VII, his son George was King during a catastrophic war that ended the gold standard in Europe.
During World War I, the British Army fought the largest and most costly war in its long history. Unlike the French and German Armies, British units were made up exclusively of volunteers at the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, the British Army was considerably smaller than the French and German regular Armies and ultimately under political authority: since the Glorious Revolution of 1688 the Crown had not technically been permitted a standing army in the United Kingdom and military force derived its existence from the Army Act, passed by Parliament each year (every five years since the late 1950s).
The men at the front had to struggle with supply problems and the shortage of food and disease was widespread in the damp, rat-infested conditions. Along with enemy action (canons, tanks and gas), many troops had to contend with new diseases: trench foot, trench fever and trench nephritis. As a result, when the war ended in 1918, British Army casualties of enemy action and disease were recorded as 673,375 dead and missing, with another 2 million wounded.
Sovereign coins as a gold investment
Since 1817 the Royal Mint has issued over 150 versions of Gold Sovereign coins. On the obverse side we find the portrait of the then monarch, and on the reverse Benedetto Pistrucci’s classic representation of the fight of Good against Evil.
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