To celebrate the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, the reverse
design of the 2012 gold sovereign will sport a new, modernistic St.
George and Dragon design by British sculptor Paul Day.
The Royal Mint revealed the design Oct. 19 for the 2012 gold
sovereign, calling it “a new design for one year only.”
The traditional St. George and Dragon design by Benedetto
Pistrucci is replaced only for special occasions, having stepped aside
for commemorative designs most recently in 2002 for the queen’s golden
jubilee. A few tweaks have been made to the design and a special
modern design unrelated to any event was used in 2005.
Day won a design contest among five artists to create the “fresh
interpretation” of the famous scene, his first coin design.
The reverse shows a ferocious dragon being dispatched by a knight
in Gothic armor. Day said he opted for a “romantic version” of the St.
George and the Dragon theme, showing a medieval knight of Arthurian
legend, “something quite traditional and true to our culture. I have
given the dragon a more threatening attitude and size, so that it
represents a real menace: its wings have a harp-like quality, in
contrast to the realism of the knight and horse, while the lance
divides the surface into two.
“I have always been attracted to detail which requires a closer
look to be unpicked and fully understood,” Day said. “I have
deliberately left very little empty space. This is to make the reverse
as engaging as possible and in complete contrast to the obverse.”
The obverse carries the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen
Elizabeth II, which has been in use since 1998.
The design appears on five different versions of the sovereign
offered in 2012 — quarter sovereign, half sovereign, sovereign, and £2
and £5 coins.
Only the three smaller sizes will be offered in bullion versions
with unlimited mintages, while all five have been offered in Proof
versions with varying mintage limits and packaging options.
Though sovereigns have been around since 1489, the modern
sovereign, with Pistrucci’s famed design, made its debut in 1817
during the reign of George III.
All of the sovereign coins are composed of .9167 fine (22-karat) gold.
The quarter sovereign weighs 1.997 grams, measures 13.5
millimeters in diameter and the Proof version has a mintage limit of
The half sovereign weighs 3.994 grams, measures 19.30 millimeters
in diameter and the Proof version has a mintage limit of 4,894 pieces.
The sovereign weighs 7.988 grams, measures 22.05 millimeters in
diameter and the Proof version has a mintage limit of 8,144 pieces.
The £2 double sovereign weighs 15.976 grams, measures 28.4
millimeters in diameter and has a mintage limit of 1,944 pieces.
The £5 coin weighs 39.94 grams, measures 36.02 millimeters in
diameter and has a mintage limit of 999 pieces.
In Proof, the quarter sovereign, half sovereign and sovereign are
available individually in a deluxe presentation case complete with a
numbered certificate of authenticity.
The Royal Mint has destined 6,500 quarter sovereigns for this
option, which costs £130 and, as of Nov. 10, was nearly sold out.
The half sovereign in this option is limited to 2,250 pieces, each
The sovereign is limited to 5,500 pieces for this option, which
Two different three-coin sets were offered but are already sold out.
One set containing an example of each of the three smaller
versions, is presented in a wooden display box. This option was
limited to 700 sets for £825 each.
Another three-coin set offered the half sovereign, sovereign and
double sovereign, also in a wooden display box. This option, limited
to 750 sets, was sold for £1,650 each.
A five-coin set is the only way to acquire the £5 coin. Presented
in a walnut-veneer case, with an individually numbered certificate of
authenticity, the five-coin set is limited to 999 sets and costs £4,000.
Prices for the coins are listed in British pounds. The prices in
U.S. or Canadian dollars will fluctuate with the exchange rate; the
price will be locked in upon ordering.
Shipping and handling are an additional charge.
To order the coins, write to the Royal Mint, FREEPOST, NAT23496,
P.O. Box 500, Llantrisant, Pontyclun CF72 8YT, visit the Royal Mint
website at www.royalmint.com or
telephone the Royal Mint Customer Services Team toll free at
866-519-7298 in the United States or at 866-924-0861 in Canada. ■