The World's Most Complete Sovereign Reference
We are striving to research and provide a far more complete reference than those that currently exist. This involves many man hours and as such the referencing database is still a work in progress but please bear with us!
The Sovereign is a fascinating coin with a lot of variations and rarities, many of these have not been recorded by previous catalogers. We are not only looking to address this, but also provide the resource online for collectors, dealers and grading companies alike.
Being the first modern produced sovereign, the George III design is one of the most iconic collectible coins. First minted in 1817 with Pistrucci’s famed St. George and the Dragon, the coin would set the standard in design techniques in sovereign production from thereon. William Wyon’s George III bust design decorates the front of the coin.
Remaining true to the design produced during his Father’s reign, the George IV bears many of the same iconic design traits. The front of the sovereign displays a bear headed George IV bust design.
The reverse of the coin features Pistrucci’s famed St. George design, with George bearing a sword versus the more commonly used lance. Other variations of the sovereign bear the Hannoverian arms.
Much like the previous sovereigns, both variations of the William IV sovereign features a bare-headed bust of the king, with slight variations in minor details such as hair engraving and border teeth. The reverse features Jean-Baptise Merlen’s famed Hannoverian arm design.
Victoria - Young Head (Shield)
The Young Head Shield sovereign, or Shieldback, is arguably the most sort after design in the sovereign's existance. The shield reverse designed by Jean Baptiste Merlen sets this sovereign apart from the rest.
Minted between 1838 and 1887 the Shield sovereign contains many variations in it's dates and legends, for the most part due to poor quality control in the earlier years.
Victoria - Young Head (St. George)
The Young Head sovereign was minted from 1871 to 1887 inclusive, and struck in coin alignment rather than medal alignment. This coin features the reintroduction of Benedetto Pistrucci's famous St.George and the Dragon design first conceived in 1817.
Coins of this design were minted in London, Syndey and Melbourne mints.
Victoria - Australia
Owing to its production heritage in the Imperial Australian mints, the Australian Queen Victorian sovereign bears the traditional Victoria design with a uniquely Australian touch. The 1856 design reverse shows a banksia along with a prominently displayed mint mark advertising its production origins.
Victoria - Jubilee Head
The Jubilee Head sovereign features the effigy designs by Joseph Edgar Boehm and were minted from 1887-1893 only. This change in portrait was a long time coming and in fact was originally discussed as early as 1879.
There are many varieties unrecorded until recently in this series, and thanks to the works of fellow catalogers we now have a clearer understanding of them, though some fuirther clarification is still needed.
Victoria - Old Head
Replacing the unpopular 1887 Jubilee design, Thomas Brock’s 1893 design shows clear homage to Victoria’s title as Empress of India. The reverse design features Pistrucci’s famed George design on an upright axis (‘En Medaille’).
Edward VII’s reign would be commemorated in 1901 through design by famed engraver George William De Saulles. The reverse bears Pistrucci’s iconic St. George slaying the dragon design with other notable design features being milled edges and fine square teeth.
From 1911 to 1936, sovereigns produced across the empire would bear the bust of George V. The are two variations, with the 1929 variation incorporating an inner circle with double beading around the edges. The second variation would display a smaller bust with higher detail. The reverse would show Pistrucci’s St. George design.
The George VI sovereign is one of the rarest modern designs due to its limited production run in 1937 with only 5,500 being minted.
The front shows a young George VI bust facing to the left with the reverse showing Pistrucci’s St. George design. The coin also features a more smooth feel and appearance as opposed to the commonly used milled edges.
The most modern Sovereign, produced from 1956 to 1968, would bear the bust of Queen Elizabeth II. The front design, created by Mary Gillick, exhibits a bust of Elizabeth adorned with a laurel wreath.
The reverse again displays Pistrucci’s traditional St. George design. This design would be used until the 1968 decimalization of British currency. Two other variations would be designed, such as the Old Head variation in 1998 and a new model created by Jody Clark in 2018.