The Gold Sovereign was originally issued in 1489 for Henry VII of England, and continues to be produced in the year 2014. The face value of this coin is one pound sterling, or twenty shillings. However, its true value is far higher because it is a piece of gold bullion, and there is no value marking on the coin itself.
Over the years, there have been some changes to the design on the reverse of the coin. There has also been a portrayal of Saint George killing a dragon, as well as other designs.
The earliest Gold Sovereigns were one-half of a troy ounce and features a purity of 23 carats. King Henry VIII had the purity reduced slightly to 22 carats, and this remains the purity level to this day. The weight of the coin was also steadily reduced to a level of .2354 Troy ounces, rather than the original one-half of a troy ounce.
While Gold Sovereigns were originally minted in 1489, and are minted today, there was a period when they were not being issued. Between the years of 1604 and 1817, Gold Sovereigns were not minted.
It is estimate that more than a billion sovereigns have been minted over the centuries. Unfortunately, most of these Gold Sovereigns have not survived. Payments made in Gold Sovereigns to other countries, for example, were often melted down by that country and converted to gold bars.
The British government would also reclaim older sovereigns and have them recoined into new ones. British law dictates that any sovereign must weigh at least 122.5 grains to be legal tender. Those sovereigns that wore down over the years and weighed less than this could be turned in and replaced with new legal tender.
All of these circumstances have worked together to create a situation where less than one percent of all the minted Gold Sovereigns remain in collectible condition today.
This makes the Gold Sovereign, and especially the older Gold Sovereigns, extremely valuable and collectible today.
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