The new 2020 Gold Proof Sovereign was released yesterday, but you may only have days to own one. Let me tell you why…
We’re in the golden age of the Proof Sovereign. As you may know, the Proof Sovereign has become the UK’s flagship annual release that’s highly sought-after worldwide.
As you can see, recent UK Gold Proof Sovereigns have an undisputed track record of completely selling out. Many with a matter of weeks.
Special one-year-only mint mark
In 2020 we mark the 200th anniversary of King George III’s death – the first monarch to appear on the modern Sovereign. To commemorate this, the Proof Sovereign features a special one-year-only royal cypher mint mark.
George III’s reign is one of the most important in the history of UK gold coins. That’s because it was in his reign that the iconic Sovereign was re-introduced, making him the first monarch to feature on the modern day sovereign, and one of the most famous gold coins in British numismatic history.
One-year-only mint marks are only applied to coins for the most significant events and anniversaries and this is certainly an important one. In fact, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a combined Royal and numismatic anniversary as significant as this in our lifetimes.
‘22 Carat Gold Pedigree‘
The 2020 Sovereign is minted from 22 Carat Gold and it is this historical pedigree that makes the coin so admired and sought-after around the world.
It is also one of the finest examples of British craftsmanship. The exceptional ‘proof’ finish is the result of the coin being struck up to 4 times using specially polished dies.
The time and effort required to produce the frosted relief and mirrored background of the coin is why a proof finish is considered the pinnacle of the mint-masters art – and the most sought-after by collectors.
And with an edition limit of JUST 7,995 worldwide – a lower edition limit than the 2018 Sovereign that also featured a special mint mark and COMPLETELY SOLD OUT in a matter of weeks – this year’s Proof Sovereign has all the elements to be the most collectable gold coin of the year.
If you’re interested…
You can secure the 2020 Gold Proof Sovereign now, but you’ll have to act quickly. You can secure yours today for a down payment of JUST £59.50 followed by nine further interest-free instalments – the most affordable way to own the new coin.
How an Italian engraver produced the most British coin of all time
Across the world, one coin is seen to epitomise all that it is British in a way that compares with nothing else. That coin is the Gold Sovereign. And at the centre of its international reputation is a quintessentially British design – St. George slaying the dragon.
Yet it is not, as you may first think, the work of a classical British artist, but instead that of the second son of an Italian federal court judge, who only came to England just two years before his portrayal of St. George and the Dragon first adorned a British coin in 1817.
In fact well before his arrival in England in 1815, Pistrucci was already well established as a leading gem engraver and producer of fine cameos amongst European high society. He rapidly made an impression on his arrival in London, winning the approval of the well-known antiquarian William Richard Hamilton.
Despite having no coin or medal experience, he was quickly commissioned by the Master of the Mint Wellesley Pole, brother of the Duke of Wellington, to produce a new portrait of George III as part of the Great Recoinage. His model, created in the unusual medium of red jasper, was re-engraved by Thomas Wyon for its final use on coinage losing, in Pistrucci’s eyes at least, much of the detail.
However, his work was clearly of sufficient quality to impress Pole, who followed up with a commission for the design that has forever since been the synonymous with the name Benedetto Pistrucci – St. George and the Dragon.
A design nearly lost the annals of history
Yet within just eight years it looked like Pistrucci’s design might disappear forever, as the Royal Mint changed the Sovereign reverse design to an heraldic shield, which was to remain in place for the next 46 years.
It was only a drive to improve the design quality of the coinage, led by new Deputy Master, Charles Fremantle that saw the re-introduction of St. George in 1871. However, both reverse designs were struck concurrently until 1887 when the Chancellor of the Exchequer declared that “by tradition and recommended by the great beauty of the design” Pistrucci’s design should once again appear on all Gold Sovereigns.
“The chief coin of the world”
By the mid-1850s the “new” Gold Sovereign had become a coin of true international status. Indeed an official list identifies no fewer than thirty-six colonies and dependencies in which the gold sovereign or half sovereign was recognised as legal tender.
More surprisingly, so great had become the reputation of the British sovereign that it was also in regular use in other countries outside the Empire, including Brazil, Egypt and Portugal.
However, it was the opening of the Sydney branch of the Royal Mint in 1855 following the discovery of gold in Australia that really marked the international growth of the Sovereign. Initially authorised to strike Sovereign’s to a different design, in 1871 Sydney finally started to strike coins of the same designs as the UK (just in time for the Pistrucci revival), only identified by a small “S” mintmark.
Further Australian Royal Mint branches followed in Melbourne in 1871 and Perth in 1899, before the Mint’s reach extended to other Empire countries with branches opening in Ottowa (1899), Bombay (1918) and Pretoria (1923) – all producing Gold Sovereigns.
It is no wonder that the eminent economist of the early 20th Century, Sir John Clapham, proclaimed the Gold sovereign as “the chief coin of the world”.
A worldwide modern icon – good enough for 007
The last international sovereign was struck in Pretoria in 1932. By then the international interest in Gold Sovereign, which started in Victorian times was well and truly established. And it is a reputation that continues right up to today.
Ian Fleming chose to equip James Bond with 50 Gold Sovereigns in his attaché case in the From Russia with Love, whilst Special Forces are still believed to carry Gold Sovereigns, as an emergency international currency.
In 2012 the Royal Mint once again authorised the striking of the St. George and the Dragon Gold Sovereign outside the UK under licence in India, so great is its popularity amongst the people there.
“The Royal Sovereign 1489 – 1989”, Ed GP Dyer
“A New History of the Royal Mint”, Christopher Edgar Challis
The Royal Mint Museum Website
The 2014 Gold Sovereign is available in a limited edition DateStamp™ Presentation of just 995 pieces –now sold out.
After months of speculation, 2013 well and truly got off with a bang following today’s unveiling of one of the year’s most exciting and eagerly awaited new issues – the UK Gold Proof Sovereign.
Nearly 200 years young
And after the change of reverse design on last year’s Diamond Jubilee Sovereign (only the fourth ever in the coin’s long and illustrious history), Benedetto Pistrucci’s almost 200 year-old Sovereign design makes a welcome return in 2013.
The one and only Sovereign design
For many collectors, Pistrucci’s classical depiction of Saint George slaying the dragon remains the definitive Sovereign design; it has in fact appeared on the coinage of every British monarch since George III. Fittingly, it is also 60 years since the pair first appeared on the first Sovereigns of the Queen Elizabeth II’s reign in 1953.
Another record Sovereign sell-out expected
Struck in 22 Carat Gold to the highest proof finish by the master craftsmen of The Royal Mint, the Sovereign has long been considered Britain’s most famous and sought-after coin.
Last year’s Gold Proof Sovereign sold out in record time and it’s widely anticipated that the 2013 coin will follow suit. There are however just 7,500 available worldwide so orders should be placed immediately.
Read up on the History of the Sovereign