The British gold half-sovereign is a British and English gold coin. The British Sovereign has a face value double that of the British gold-half sovereign. In other words, the British Gold Half Sovereign’s value is equal to 120 old pence, 10 shillings or half pound sterling. It was introduced by Henry VIII in 1544. However, it was discontinued in 1604 till 1817 when the British coinage underwent significant revision. Its production recommenced until 1926 before restarting once more in 1980. Australia used the British Gold Half Sovereign extensively until 1993.
The 1544 gold half-sovereign was smaller than the sovereign with the King sitting in the state chair holding his orb and scepter while a huge rose was at his feet. The inscription, “HENRIC 8 GRA AGL FRANCIE HIBER REX” surrounds the obverse. The reverse contains a shield bearing the English and French arms quartered with a dragon and lion supporting it on either side. The legend is, “IHS AUTEM TRANSIES PERIM EDIUM ILLORUM IBAT” and “HR”. Edward VI reigned for only six years, but launched four different gold coins with only the half-sovereign coin bearing his youthful head. King James I also struck the gold half-sovereign before its discontinuation in 1604.
The gold half sovereigns issued between 1817 and 1820 during the reign of King George III bore King George II’s effigy facing to the right with the date below it on the obverse. The reverse of the gold half sovereign coin features an angular shield upon the royal crown and the UK’s Ensigns Armorial. All British Gold Half Sovereigns minted from 1817 and later are 19.30 millimeters wide and 0.99 millimeters thick. They all weigh in at 3.99 grams, are made of crown gold alloy (22-carat) and contain an actual gold weight of 3.6575 grams (0.1176 t/oz with 0.916 fineness).
Kings George IV, William IV, Queen Victoria, Edward VII, and George continued issuing gold half-sovereigns. Although the 886 AD, London-based Royal Mint has held rights of minting and distribution, its various branches across the world including Sydney, Perth, and South African continued minting half-sovereigns. Being legal tender, trading in British gold half-sovereign is VAT exempt.