Produced by the 1,100-year-old Royal Mint, the British Sovereign is the Mint’s flagship coin. It was named after the English gold sovereign which was last minted in 1603 and got its start during the Great Recoinage of 1816. Initially, this newest sovereign didn’t enjoy public popularity; banknotes were still the preferred method of payment. However, once paper currency was value was limited by law, the sovereign became not only a popular circulating coin, but was widely used in international trade.
The first gold sovereign of this period featured the bust of King George III. As subsequent monarchs came to the throne, the sovereign was redesigned to their likeness. George IV, William IV, Victoria and Elizabeth have all had sovereigns during their reigns.
The reverse was originally designed by sculptor Benedetto Pistrucci in 1816. It features Saint George on horseback. He clutches the reins in his hands and his cloak is flowing behind him. His right hand holds his sword, which he has successfully used to slay the dragon which lies beneath his horse. Pistrucci’s design is in the Neoclassical style, which was at the height of popularity at the time.
This version features a young Queen Elizabeth II, at the beginning of her reign.
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