British sovereigns are categorized among rare coins. They are gold coins that were minted by the Royal mint of the United Kingdom at different times in history. The British sovereigns have a nominal value that is equivalent to one pound sterling. The British Sovereigns are at the moment used as bullion coins but not essentially as a means of exchange. These rare coins are named after the English gold coin which was lastly minted in the year 1604. The name British sovereign was revived in through the 1816 Great Recoinage.
The minting of the new British Sovereigns began in the year 1817. At this time of minting, the gold content of the sovereigns was fixed at 113 grains which was equivalent to 7.322 grams or 0.2354 troy ounce. These specifications have been maintained even up to the present. The British sovereigns were originally minted in the UK between 1817 and 1917. They were also minted in 1925 and then again from the year 1957. They were also occasionally minted in several other countries like Canada, Australia, South Africa and India. The United Kingdom also struck other coins in addition to the British sovereigns. These include double sovereigns (two-pounds), half-sovereigns (ten-shilling) and quintuple sovereign coins (five pounds).
In the year 2009, the UK Royal Mint struck and released a new coin (the quarter-sovereign) in the British Sovereign series. This coin has some similarities to the original Rose’s Gold English crown. The British Sovereigns that were minted in the year 1817 had some standard specifications of weight of 7.9881 grams, a diameter of 22.05 mm, a thickness of 1.52 mm, and 91.67% fineness equivalent to 22 carat. The gold content as stated earlier was 113 grains which was the equivalent to 7.322 grams or 0.2354 troy ounce.
Regarding the design of the British Sovereigns, the original reverse type of the gold coins was the crown motif and shield which was supplemented to the Sovereign by a heraldic wreath. This design was succeeded by coins that had a portrait of Saint George while killing a dragon. This later design was the work of Benedetto Pistrucci. This design is still used on the British Gold Sovereigns even though the reverse designs were designed differently during the reigns of George IV, William IV, Victoria and Elizabeth II.
The British Sovereign appears like a small coin but it still has the £1 face value that it had in 1895. It also has the £150- purchasing power that it had in 2007. It is important to note that gold is metal which is relatively dense. A very small coin like the British sovereign can thus contain about ¼ ounce of metal. The reason why the production of the £5 quintuple Sovereigns and £2 double Sovereigns was limited is because of the ease in which the gold can be removed from these coins which were larger. This gold could easily be removed through filing, by use of chemicals, or by use of other techniques such as drilling of small hole in the coin and then hammering the hole in order to conceal it.
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