Illustrious History of the British Gold Sovereign Coin

The British gold sovereign was introduced more than five hundred years ago under the orders of King Henry VII and has since enjoyed an illustrious history. During the height of the British Empire in the 16th Century, the gold sovereign was the most widely distributed gold coin in the world and was recognized as a symbol of power and prestige.

The first gold sovereign was struck in 1489 and inherits both its name and design from the Royal Household. Today, the sovereign is the world´s oldest surviving coin and some issues bear the familiar Tudor double rose and the depiction of Benedetto´s Pestrucci´s famous representation of St George slaying the dragon.

When King Henry made the decision to manufacture gold sovereigns they were intended to be used as much for propaganda tools as they were for currency. It was a declaration of a new King that had come to power and that he would be the ruler of the four corners of the earth. From 1850, the royal sovereign coins were subsequently minted in countries far and wide including Canada, South Africa, Australia and India.

Great British sovereign

The sovereign came to hold even more prominence once King Henry VIII defeated Napoleon in the early 19th Century. The victory at Waterloo marked Britain as the world superpower despite the war leaving Britain in financial dire straits prompting the Great Recoinage of 1817 which saw the reintroduction of the gold sovereign valued at 20 shillings (the sovereign had earlier been dismissed by James I)

The sovereign was made with 22 carat gold and weighed 7.9880 grams and at the time was minted with the most advanced processes. The London Mint even had a machine that wheedled out coins that were too heavy or too light. This rigorous quality control enhanced the Sovereign’s reputation for reliability and adopted by countries which were not part of the British colonies – such as Brazil.

During the First World War, the British government appealed to citizen´s to turn in their sovereign coins to help fund the war effort. Silver was turned into bullets and practically overnight the sovereign coin went out of circulation and replaced by paper notes. That would be the last time the sovereign was used as official currency though is still recognized as legal tender in Britain.

Demand for sovereigns

Once paper money had been introduced the sovereign disappeared until popular demand from investors and collectors brought it back in 1957. Gold sovereigns are just as in demand today and the Royal Mint reported it had sold out of the 2014 issue within the first week of the coins going on sale. The Greeks invested heavily in sovereigns during the financial crisis a couple of years ago.

Gold sovereigns remain a sound financial investment and with gold prices forecast to fall to an average of $1220 in 2014, this year is a prime opportunity for you to add gold to your investment portfolio. For the latest prices on gold sovereign coins visit today.