Neil S Berman - Expert Numismatist & Gold Coin Dealer
Gold Coins Trade through History
British Gold Guinea & Sovereign
British Gold Guinea & Sovereign. 1660-1914. The first milled gold coins were of Charles II, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, in denominations of five, two and one guineas, which circulated in England along side of the more common Spanish gold of the period. In fact, some of the coins of Queen Anne of 1703 are marked VIGO and George II in 1745 and 1746 LIMA to indicate they are made from gold actually captured from the Spanish. The first Sovereigns or Gold Pounds as they were called were struck for George IV in 1823.
The obverse of the most common Sovereign coins featured the portrait of the reigning Queen Victoria in three types, and Kings Edward VII and George V. The reverse shows Saint George and the Dragon, each with numerous varieties from many mints. All the coins weight 7.99 grams of .916 (22 Karat) gold containing .2568 troy ounces of fine gold.
The coins were used where ever there was a British presence, which is basically everywhere in Europe, North and South America, Southern and Central Africa, the Middle and Far East, China, Indochina, and Japan, India and Australia. In fact there were so many made that there is no type of sovereign that is really rare. Only by date does the collector run into problems. This is because five hundred million coins were minted in London and perhaps another five hundred million in the branch mints in Bombay, Pretoria, Ottawa, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The outbreak of World War I in 1914 ended the use of gold inside Britain although the coins continued to be used by the government until 1925, ending a quarter century years of economic dominance. The coin is still used to some degree in the Middle East today, where they are extensively forged, and as a bullion coin world wide everywhere.