British Gold Sovereign

  • Debut mint: 1817
  • Mint: The Royal Mint
  • Weight: 7.988g
  • Gold content: 22-carat gold (0.917 fineness, 0.2354 t/oz)
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The British Gold Sovereign is the UK’s most prolific gold coin with a one-pound sterling nominal value. It was first introduced in February 1817 following an indenture requiring the Royal Mint to mint coins of 7.988 grams with original exclusive circulation in Britain. The coin draws its name from the 1603 mint of the English gold sovereign, but can be traced to the 1816 Great Recoinage.

Benedetto Pistrucci, a sculptor of Italian descent who arrived in London in 1816 designed the reverse of the gold sovereign with St. George on the back of a horse. St. George is clutching the bridle’s rein with his left hand without an armor albeit with a helmet. Criticism over the scanty dressing of the saint led to the modification of the reverse. The British Gold Sovereign coin is a 22-carat gold (0.917 fineness, 0.2354 t/oz) alloy spanning 22.05mm wide and 1.52mm thick, which has been minted and circulated by the British Royal Mint globally.

The gold sovereigns minted between 1817 and 1820 bear the decorated head of George III while those of 1821-1825 have the decorated head of George IV. Both coins have the monarchs facing left and the St. George with the Dragon on the reverse. The 1825-1830 and the 1831-1833 then 1835-1837 bear the heads of George IV and William IV respectively with the shield on the reverse. Victoria’s young head features in the 1831-1887 gold sovereigns while her jubilee and veiled heads appear in the obverse of the 1871-1893 and 1893-1901 obverses respectively.

Edward VII’s head appears on the coinage minted between 1902 and 1910. The first and second head versions of King George V appear on the 1911-1928 and 1929-1932 versions respectively while King George VI’s head is on the obverse of the rare 1937 sovereign. Sovereigns minted between 1957 and 2005 contain the images of Queen Elizabeth II with varying portraits occasionally. Except for the 2002 version, which has the shield in its reverse, all the other Queen Elizabeth II versions bear the St. George with the Dragon image. No VAT or sales tax is charged for trading in the British Gold Sovereign coin.

Additional information


The Royal Mint

Country of Origin

United Kingdom




7.988 gm




22.05 mm


22 carat gold