Royal Mint launches Proof 2019 gold sovereign
- Published: Nov 12, 2018, 4 AM
Proof versions of the annual, classic British gold sovereign for 2019 are now available from the Royal Mint.
The 2019 coins, as with most sovereigns issued since 1817, feature the classic Benedetto Pistrucci design of St. George slaying the dragon.
Inside Coin World: Pick strawberries, get tokens: Strawberry pickers tokens, 1883 Liberty Head 5-cent coins and a die marriage of the 1878-CC Morgan dollar are among the topics of columns in the Nov. 26 issue of Coin World.
The Sovereign 2019 Proof Collection includes individual editions and exclusive sets, all available in limited numbers. These coins are sold at significant premiums to their precious metal content, and should not be confused with the bullion versions (with looser mintages and lower prices), which will not be released until a later date.
Royal Mint officials did not respond to questions about that release date by Nov. 9, and a distributor contacted by Coin World could not confirm the date, either, at the Royal Mint’s request.
Ushering in the sovereign
The gold sovereign has a storied history whose modern segment dates back just over 200 years.
In the early 18th century, the effects of the Napoleonic Wars and a shortage of silver meant that the United Kingdom’s circulating coinage was in poor condition. The re-coinage and exchange of 1816 and 1817 would transform the nation’s coins, and it accompanied greater scrutiny and efficiency than ever before. The Royal Mint had moved to a new location in Tower Hill, equipped to meet the new demands with modern steam-powered machinery.
Alongside this activity, legislation would formalize the gold standard, setting out the coins to be produced, and the standard to which they would be struck.
One key change was to reinstate the 20-shilling piece, but this time the coin of 20 shillings would be known as the pound or sovereign.
As the old 21-shilling gold guinea circulated alongside the new coin for a time, easy distinction between the two coins was essential.
The reverse design chosen for the sovereign was the instantly recognizable St. George and the Dragon created by Benedetto Pistrucci, now acknowledged across the world as a masterpiece. The sovereign has deviated from the iconic St. George at times, but it always returns to this 200-year-old design.
Pistrucci’s iconic design
Pistrucci came to London in 1815 under the patronage of the Prince Regent. He was relatively unknown in Britain, but his reputation attracted interest, and he quickly found sponsors and supporters of his work. Soon after his arrival, his engraving talent was recognized, and he was given the prestigious task of creating the designs for the new gold and silver coins of George III.
Pistrucci’s St. George and the Dragon design has become synonymous with the sovereign. He created an interpretation that defied the medieval image of St. George, instead opting for a Greek interpretation, bare and muscular, not weighed down with the usual chain mail and armor.
The obverse design on the 2019 coin features Jody Clark’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
Since joining the Royal Mint, coin designer Clark has worked on many notable projects, among them his creation of this fifth definitive coinage portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, introduced in 2015.
Sovereigns in modern times are composed of .9167 fine gold and weigh 7.98 grams.
The Proof 2019 sovereign coins are available in a range of options and sizes, with the quarter-, half- and double-sovereign coins joining the standard sovereign size.
The quarter-, half- and sovereign coins are available individually, or as components in various sets. The double-sovereign coin is available only as part of sets containing three, four or five coins (with the other constituents of those sets varying based on the set).
The Royal Mint website offers full specifications and pricing for the Proof versions.
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