Mapping the history of the sovereign gold coin.

The history of gold sovereigns

The very first gold Sovereign was struck during Henry VII’s reign. On 28th October 1489, the king ordered the officers of his Royal Mint to produce “A new money of gold.”

Up to that point, gold coins had been in circulation for over a hundred years, so the Sovereign certainly wasn’t the first gold coin to be minted in England. It was, however, the largest and most valuable ever seen at that time. On the obverse of the coin there was a portrait of Henry VII on his throne, wearing his coronation gown. The royal arms featured on the reverse, with a magnificent double rose that symbolised the union of York and Lancaster after the Wars of the Roses.

This large, handsome coin clearly sent out a message of stability and prestige after the turmoil of the wars. Succeeding monarchs all chose to strike new versions of the Sovereign themselves, indicating their own power and strength. It wasn’t until the reign of James I, crowned King of England and Scotland in 1603, that the practice died out.

Learn more...

The Royal Mint - The history of the Gold Sovereign

The Telegraph - Guinea, sovereign, shilling: a short history of the British coinage

Wikipedia - Sovereign (British coin)