It was once said that the sun never set on the British Empire. So enormous were British land holdings that the UK and its colonies stretched from Britain through much of Africa and Asia, across the Pacific and into the New World. The creation of that empire was the result of the desire to find new resources abroad, and its ability to remain together was the result of strong trade ties. Aiding those ties was Britain’s adoption of the gold standard with the introduction of the gold sovereign coin.
While the UK had been on a de facto gold standard since the early 1700s, it only officially adopted the gold standard in 1821. The sovereign, introduced in 1817, was named after the gold sovereign coin that had last been minted in 1604. Its face value was a nominal one pound (20 shillings), differentiating it from the 21-shilling guinea coin that had been the primary gold coin in circulation until that time.
The sovereign quickly became a popular coin for international trade, circulating as both a full sovereign and a half sovereign. Both coins were made from a 22-carat gold alloy that became known as crown gold. With Britain’s suspension of the gold standard in 1914 the sovereign disappeared from circulation, never to return. Since that time the sovereign has been minted as a bullion and collector coin.
Over a billion sovereigns were produced over the course of its production and, while many were undoubtedly melted down in the past for their gold, many still remain in existence. The coin is still a highly desirable bullion coin today for investors and collectors alike. Premiums on sovereign coins will generally run around 6-8% over spot, while premiums on half sovereign coins will run 15-20%.
Like most older circulating coins, the sovereign is not eligible for investment through a gold or precious metals IRA. Only modern bullion coinage that has a minimum fineness of .995 or greater is eligible for IRA investment. But if you’re interested in owning a piece of history, holding the coin that was synonymous with the gold standard, or even just owning a great bullion coin, you can’t go wrong with the gold sovereign.
91.67% gold (22 carat)
- Sovereign: 7.98805 g
- Half Sovereign: 3.99 g
- Sovereign: 0.2354 troy oz.
- Half Sovereign: 0.1177 troy oz.
- Sovereign: 22.05 mm
- Half Sovereign: 19.3 mm
- Sovereign: 1.52 mm
- Half Sovereign: 1mm