As I’m sure you know, this year we celebrate the milestone 95th birthday of our monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
This is a crucial moment in our country’s history. She is longest reigning head of state that the UK, and in fact the world, has ever seen. Amazingly, 81% of the British population has been born following her coronation, so she is the only monarch that the majority of us have ever known.
This makes her reign one of the most important and impressive in Britain’s history.
To mark this momentous occasion The East India Company has issued a special limited edition Gold Proof Sovereign that’s frankly the most important gold coin in the world right now.
You’ll understand when you see the design and the edition limit. These two things are going to make this Sovereign one of the most sought-after gold coins in history, and the very pinnacle for all collectors looking to mark the Queen’s birthday…
Nostalgic Mary Gillick Portrait
It goes without saying that Sovereigns are one of the most collected coins in the world. Known in the 19th century as ‘the chief coin of the world’ it has maintained its global reputation for accuracy, integrity and beauty.
Whilst the reverse of this Sovereign depicts the iconic image of St George slaying the dragon, it’s the obverse that’s going to have collectors rushing to secure this coin.
You see, The East India Company has been given special permission to use the very first official portrait of the Queen by Mary Gillick on this coin’s obverse, making this the first time it has been seen on a Sovereign for over 50 years.
Significantly, the Gillick portrait was the first effigy of Her Majesty to be used on UK coin. This nostalgic effigy, emphasising the Queen’s youth and vitality, represents the beginning of her reign and is the perfect tribute to her impressive reign and legacy.
Over Ten Times Rarer than the UK Proof Sovereign
Importantly, the East India Company Gold Proof Sovereign is struck to the same exacting standards as the UK sovereign – in 7.98 grams of 22 Carat Gold. All that differs is the design and – crucially – the edition limit.
It has a strict single coin worldwide edition limit of 750, which when compared to the significantly higher UK 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign edition limit of 7,995 makes this coin over TEN times more limited.
What’s more the UK 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign was also issued specially to mark the 95th birthday of Her Majesty the Queen, and it completely SOLD OUT at the Mint inside nine weeks of release!
The Most Important Gold Coin in the World Right Now
It’s clear that there is high demand this year for commemoratives marking the Queen’s birthday – and it’s only February!
Whilst I suspect we will see many more commemoratives for Her Majesty’s 95th birthday, this Sovereign is undoubtedly the most significant. Frankly, it’s the most important gold coin you can find right now in the world.
The scarcity of these Sovereigns alone will make them highly sought-after amongst collectors, but when you consider the historic use of the Mary Gillick portrait – not seen on a coin for 50 years! – I’m sure they will be at the top of every collector’s must-have list.
Especially if the sell-out of the UK 2021 Sovereign is anything to go by, these coins will be snapped up in a flash.
If you’re interested…
It’s clear that any collector looking to secure one of these rare coins will have to take urgent action.
As an Official Distributor of The East India Company, we are lucky to have a limited number of these significant Sovereigns available for Westminster Collection collectors.
But with so few available, and demand for Queen Elizabeth II commemoratives already at an all-time high, we do not expect that we have enough coins to go around. Therefore, these coins are offered on a strict first-come, first-served basis.
2017 sees the Gold Sovereign’s bicentenary, and to mark the occasion a special one-year-only design has been unveiled, recreating Pistrucci’s original 1817 engraving. It’s a truly fitting tribute and acknowledges the rich history of the coin which I’ve been exploring in these blogs. If you missed the previous posts you can start from the beginning here, but now here’s the final chapter in the sovereign’s history so far…
In Part V, I explored the decline in production of Gold Sovereigns as a result of World War I and the worldwide economic crisis, which lead to the end of the Sovereign. Until 1957 when it was revived once again…
Apart from one special limited edition commemorative issue for King George VI’s coronation in 1937, no Sovereigns had been struck since 1932. In 1953, Sovereigns were produced for Queen Elizabeth II for the Coronation Sets but they were for national collections, not collectors.
The Sovereign’s revival
Then in 1957, worldwide demand for the coins became so great that The Royal Mint resumed production of bullion gold Sovereigns for circulation. Not only would this satisfy demand, it would also blunt the premium that was making it so lucrative to counterfeit the coins.
These early ‘restoration’ Sovereigns of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign feature Mary Gillick’s portrait of the young Queen on the obverse, engraved especially for her new coinage.
The portrait design was changed in 1968 prior to Decimalisation in 1971, to a portrait by Arnold Machin. This portrait still features on postage stamps all these years later.
A new market emerges
Queen Elizabeth II’s reign has been a time of change for the Sovereign. A new market has emerged – the collector’s market.
In 1979, The Royal Mint produced the first proof version of the Sovereign of her reign. This higher grade version was limited to just 12,500 pieces and proved very popular with collectors.
With a newfound interest from collectors, it is not surprising that we have seen more design variations of the Sovereign than ever before.
A third portrait design by Raphael Maklouf was used from 1985 to 1997 and a fourth by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS replaced this until 2015 when Her Majesty’s portrait was updated by The Royal Mint engraver, Jody Clark.
The UK’s Premier Gold Coin
We have also seen the introduction of commemorative one-year-only designs, which started in 1989 with the issue of a special 500th anniversary Sovereign, featuring a design similar to the first Sovereign in 1489. These special commemorative designs have become more and more popular.
Since then, there have been one-year-only designs for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 2002, the modern St. George and the Dragon in 2005, the Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the Queen’s 90th birthday in 2016.
These limited editions have seen a surge in Sovereign collecting, cementing its position as the UK’s premier gold coin.
It’s universal appeal shows no sign of slowing. In recent financial crises, people all over the world clamoured for Gold Sovereigns.
The Sovereign’s reputation for quality and reliability remains and will remain for years to come and now the next chapter in the Sovereign story has been written…
Announcing the new UK Bicentenary Gold Proof Sovereign
To mark the Bicentenary of the “modern” Gold Sovereign in 2017, The Royal Mint have just released a brand new Gold Proof Sovereign reprising Benedetto Pistrucci’s original engraving from 1817.
With a low edition limit of just 10,500 worldwide, a special one-year-only design change and a fine proof finish, the 2017 Bicentenary Gold Sovereign has all the elements to be one of the most collectable British gold coins of the 21st century. And now you can own one.
With the new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II due to be revealed on Monday, I thought I’d revisit a blog I posted in 2013, which saw the 60th anniversary of the Queen on our coinage.
Back then you voted Mary Gillick’s 1953 portrait of the Queen the best, by a very slim margin. Will the new portrait become the nation’s favourite? Let’s take a look at the previous designs…
The first Queen Elizabeth II coins were struck in 1953 and since then four different effigies adorned our coins.
1953 – 1967: Mary Gillick
The first coins of Queen Elizabeth’s reign bore Mary Gillick’s portrait of the young Queen, engraved especially for the new coins.
Her uncrowned portrait of the Queen is still used on the Maundy Money distributed each year by Her Majesty.
With the upcoming decimilisation, it was decided to refresh the Queen’s portrait with Arnold Machin’s new sculpture of the Queen. Commissioned in 1964, it first appeared in 1968 on the new 5p and 10p coins. A version of the design with tiara was also introduced on stamps in 1967 and remains to this day.
1985 – 1997: Raphael Maklouf
In creating his new effigy of Her Majesty, Raphael Maklouf aimed “to create a symbol, regal and ageless”.
His “couped” portrait depicts Queen Elizabeth II wearing the royal diadem favoured by her on the way to and from the State Opening of Parliament.
1998 – current: Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS
The current Queen’s head on our coinage was designed in 1997 by Ian Rank-Broadley. Created to fill the full circle of the coin, its larger size was a deliberate response to the smaller 5p and 10p coins in circulation. A noticeably more mature portrayal of Her Majesty, Rank-Broadley aimed to show the Queen with “poise and bearing”.
If you’re interested…
Collect all 8 of the ‘new portrait’ coins when you find them in your change with The Queen’s New Portrait Coin Collecting Pack. Available now for just £3.99 (+p&p).