United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns: Buyer’s Guide for 2023

In terms of British bullion coinage for the majority of the last millennium, United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns are especially the gold standard. These stunning objects constantly spark the curiosity of and draw the attention of gold coin collectors.

Since King Henry VIII‘s rule six centuries ago, the British Royal Mint has been producing these Gold Sovereigns.

inscription on uk gold sovereign gold coin

The five different continents all around the British Empire on which the ” sun never set” are responsible for the minting of these coins, throughout the intervening centuries.

History and Background of United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns

Following the years from the late 1400s to 1604, the series of production of the United Kingdom Gold Sovereign continued originally.

In 1817, the first of the more recent Gold Sovereigns appeared.

A restrike of the currency, which had been in circulation from 1917 to 1957, took place in 1925 when Winston Churchill worked to bring the British Empire back under the stabilizing effect of the Gold Standard.

The ever-popular bullion standard coin experienced a comeback in the years 1949 to 1951 as the Royal Mint produced them using 1925 dies with a portrait of His Late Majesty King George V rather than his concurrently ruling son King George VI. 

The country started reliably producing Gold Sovereigns again in 1957. These magnificent coins circulated widely up to 1932 because the empire continued to adhere to the Gold Standard.

The production quantity of these beautiful coins was more than a billion pieces. The Royal Mint produced lots of coins in Gold Sovereigns.

According to national rules in effect at the time, the U.S. also melted down many millions of them into gold bars. The United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns have had an average lifespan of fifteen years. 

Since the late 1400s, these coins have remained the only widely recognized and accepted form of payment for whole five centuries of modern history, serving as a standard for international trade.

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There are many different sizes and denominations of United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns.

On the day of mintage, the coins typically had a bust or picture of the current monarch. 

They are therefore both appealing historical mementos and reliable and solid gold bullion investments.

From 1911 until 1932, the process of minting took place. On the obverse of each of these coins was a bust of George V that was facing to the left. 

There were Latin inscriptions that said, “George the Fifth, by God’s Grace, King of all the Britons, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India.”

Later from 1932 till now, these historical coins were important matters in the form of bullion coins, as per the Gold Standard official guidelines.

Around 1982, the coins started to be produced in proof- and bullion-quality. Also, the Royal Mint had many overseas divisions, including London, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Ottawa, Bombay, and Pretoria. The second historical series of these coins began circulating in 1817.

The minting process of the coin on a global scale production is historically significant to the United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns. This coin was prevalent in several places such as Australia, Canada, Britain, India, and South Africa.

United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns Physical Characteristics

The British Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales, is the only facility still producing United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns. Currently, they are available in denominations of one pound, two pounds, and five pounds. The first Gold Sovereigns used the back of a crown and shield pattern encircled by a heraldic wreath.

united kingdom gold sovereigns coin design

The Medieval depiction of the great Saint George slaying the dragon was popular in the series. Benedetto Pistrucci, a coin and gem engraver who rose to become the Royal Mint’s Chief Medalist, created St. George and the Dragon iconography for this 1817 series. Throughout the reigns of King William IV, Queen Victoria, King George IV, and Queen Elizabeth II, these reverses have changed. The modern United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns consist of George and the dragon motif.

Coin Design

The “obverse” of a coin refers to its front side. The current obverse of United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns features a picture of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. In her illustrious 63-year reign, this is the Queen’s second specifically commissioned portrait. For the first time, the portrait is purposefully imprinted off-center to increase collector interest in the coins.

The “reverse” of a coin is the side that is on the back. The depiction of St. George the Dragonslayer on the United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns is classical. 

He is heroically mounted atop his horse and in the process of slaying the dragon. In 1817, the great Benedetto Pistrucci gave the new design for the sovereign second series.

Specifications of Coin

Gold Sovereign is still producing these coins, in the sizes of one, two & five pounds. The long-running series of coins known as United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns have historically been most popular in one-pound denomination sizes. They have the following measurements:

  • Mass:  .2354 troy oz
  • Diameter: 22.05 mm
  • Thickness:  1.52 mm
  • Purity: 91.70% gold

United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns Pricing

United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns come with a basic one-pound face value. The two and five-pound denominations serve as bigger sizes.

These coins are legal money throughout Great Britain. These gold coins have a lower face value, but their true worth is much higher. 

Even the one-pound sovereign coins have approximately a quarter ounce of gold within them. This is why their market value is mostly based on the spot price of gold in world markets.

When measured in an investment portfolio, the market value of these coins is proportional to their value in gold.

Due to their historical collectibility and ongoing demand from collectors, these coins sell at a premium over spot gold. Every trading day, the market value of the coins fluctuates along with the price of gold.

Can IRA Accounts Hold United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns?

The most crucial concern regarding United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns for retirement investors is whether or not these beautiful coins, in any or all of their different forms, are permitted to be included in American IRA accounts. 

The coins consistently contain almost a quarter ounce.9170 fine gold, according to a long-standing tradition. It includes bullion pieces, and in such accounts, is up to the discretion of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service

Establishing such an account requires that you initially fill the precious metals IRA account with at least $5,000 worth of sanctioned gold and/or silver bullion. 

After this, you can always opt to add additional in $1,000 or higher minimum increments. If you currently own an IRA account now, you can reasonably quickly transfer it over into a precious metals IRA.

Your IRA account administrator will deliver your new bullion to a third-party IRS-approved vaulting company after receiving it. The IRS permits this company to store IRA bullion coins and bars.

Despite being one of the most dependable and long-lasting gold coin series with a history dating back more than five centuries, the IRS forbids them in all of their sizes, dates, and denominations. 

This is mostly due to the coins’ 91.7% gold purity, which is below the required 99.5% purity standard.

Even if they held the required gold purity, their protracted ability to be collected would guarantee that the IRS would invalidate their placement in these accounts. 

These beautiful and historic gold bullion pieces make fantastic complements to other retirement and investment portfolios and collections, even though they might not be included in your personal IRA account.

Also, you can buy new issues directly from the Royal Mint in Wales through their user-friendly website, while previous releases can be purchased from the reputable coin and bullion dealers all over the world.


Clearly, the above guide on the United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns tells us about the purity, beauty & heritage of these coins. Furthermore, we can add these properties for its collectivity.

Hence, if you have an interest in purchasing United Kingdom Gold Sovereigns, go to Augusta Precious Metals or visit our list of  Best Gold IRA Companies page.