INVEST / COINS / MS60 British Sovereigns

MS60 British Sovereigns

The minting of British sovereigns goes back over 600 years—to the reign of King Henry VII. Featuring the portrait of the reigning king or queen, they are highly valued.

Are British gold sovereign coins a good investment?

Learn more about the value and history of these rare and beautiful historic coins.

The Story
A Royal British Legacy

The minting of British sovereigns (coins with the profile of the reigning king or queen on the obverse [front] side) goes back over 600 years—to the reign of King Henry VII. There have been gaps in production, along with changes in design, size, and purpose, but British gold sovereigns are still being minted today.

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The History
A Long and Storied Pedigree

Sovereigns in their current form have been minted since 1817. They are nominally one-pound sterling (£1) coins containing .2354 troy ounces of gold each. Their true value, of course, is determined by their gold content, and is much higher. 

The original English gold sovereign was last minted in 1603. However, it lent its name to the gold coin devised by England to stabilize its economy through the Great Recoinage of 1816 following the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The gold sovereign was a circulating coin used for commerce and exchange throughout the early part of its history. Though it is now a de facto bullion coin, it is still legal tender in Britain. Through its history, it has at various times been minted not only by the Royal Mint in the UK, but by mints in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and India.

The Design
Changing Faces Backed by Enduring Courage

The Reigning Sovereign in Artful Profile

Each gold sovereign bears the portrait of the king or queen reigning during its mintage on its obverse. The wording encircling the portrait varies, but is typically in Latin and features the name of the sovereign. The last sovereign featuring Queen Elizabeth II, for instance, bears the words “ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF,” which stands for Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith.

St. George and the Dragon

Italian sculptor Benedetto Pistrucci’s design of Saint George battling a dragon has, with some alterations and exceptions, graced the reverse of the gold sovereign since its inception in 1817. One exception is the coin for 2022, the year celebrating the platinum jubilee (70 years) of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The reverse on this coin features the Royal Arms of England design instead of Saint George. The coin minted in Queen Elizabeth’s gold jubilee year of 2002 was another exception. Regardless of the design, the year of mintage is typically located at the bottom of the coin.

Design Updates
As History Changes, So Do the Coins

Not only do gold sovereigns reflect the changing order with each new king or queen, they change within reigns. Five portraits have been used for Elizabeth II, for instance. There are thus too many variants to describe here. When you call to determine availability, be sure to ask about any details you’re interested in.

As An Investment
A Valuable Addition to Your Portfolio

British sovereigns were introduced to stabilize the monetary system of the ascending world power in 1817. The previous quarter century had been tumultuous and had depleted England’s treasury. The coin, with attendant policy changes and national efforts, did its job. Gold still does the same thing now; these coins’ stabilizing effect is not limited in time or geography. They will do for your portfolio today what they did for England’s exchequer in the 19th century.

Though current-era gold sovereigns have been minted for over two centuries, they are highly valued, tightly held, and not always easy to come by. Be sure to call to determine availability. An advisor at McAlvany Precious Metals will let you know which coins are in stock, along with pricing information.

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