Half sovereign

Last updated
Half sovereign
United Kingdom
Value£0.5
Mass3.994 g (61.637  gr)
Diameter19.30 mm
EdgeMilled
Composition22 Carat Gold
Gold.1176  troy oz
Years of minting1817–present
Obverse
OBVERSE GEORGE V, 1915 Sydney. Uncirculated.jpg
DesignPortrait of reigning monarch (George V obverse shown)
Reverse
REVERSE GEORGE V, 1915 Sydney. Uncirculated.jpg
Design Saint George and the Dragon
Designer Benedetto Pistrucci

The half sovereign is a British gold coin with a nominal value of half of one pound sterling. It is half the weight (and has half the gold content) of its counterpart 'full' sovereign coin. [1]

Contents

The half sovereign was first introduced in 1544 under Henry VIII. After 1604, the issue of half sovereigns, along with sovereigns, was discontinued. [1]

In 1817, following a major revision of British coinage, new versions of half sovereigns and sovereigns were introduced. [1]

Production of British half sovereigns continued until 1926 and, apart from special issues for coronation years, was not restarted until 1980. [2] It was also used extensively in Australia, until 1933. [3]

Since the end of the gold standard, it has been issued only in limited quantities as a bullion or collectors' coin, with a sale price and resale value far in excess of its nominal value, though it continues to be legal tender. [1]

Modern half sovereigns, from 1817 onwards, have a diameter of 19.30 mm, a thickness of c. 0.99 mm, a weight of 3.99 g, are made of 22 carat (91 23%) crown gold alloy, and contain 0.1176 troy ounces (3.6575 g) of gold. [4] The reverse side, featuring St. George slaying a dragon was designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, whose initials appear to the right of the date. [1]

Background and authorisation

Henry VII revitalised England’s economy following a civil war and the Black Death. [5] He introduced the sovereign in 1489, which he valued at twenty shillings. [1] Before the new denomination, the only gold coins in circulation were angels and half angels. [6]

Henry VII left a large treasury – the modern equivalent of about £375 million – to his successor Henry VIII, however the inherited wealth was not sustained due to Henry VIII’s extravagant lifestyle and the war expenses needed to maintain a claim over France. [7] Before the Reformation, minting was still carried out by monasteries. Due to a shortage of bullion imported from overseas – Cardinal Wolsey, Chancellor of Exchequer began debasing coinage in 1526 in an attempt to align England’s currency with that of continental Europe. Henry VIII realised he was able to increase his revenue if he continued debasing coins – reducing their fineness, and by introducing new denominations. [1] This decision earned him the nickname "Old Coppernose", describing the copper showing through parts of his portrait that were of low relief on his basest coinage after only a short time in circulation. [5] The era 1542–1551 is now known as the Great Debasement. [5]

A silver halfgroat from the second coinage of Henry VIII. Silver is worn after time in circulation, and base alloy is visible. Coins such as this earned Henry VIII the nickname "Old Coppernose". Henry VIII, second coinage, silver halfgroat OBVERSE.jpg
A silver halfgroat from the second coinage of Henry VIII. Silver is worn after time in circulation, and base alloy is visible. Coins such as this earned Henry VIII the nickname "Old Coppernose".

The coinage of Henry VIII can be divided into five classes. The half sovereign valued at ten shillings was introduced in the third alongside the quarter-angel. [1]

The half sovereign continued to be used by Henry VIII’s successor Edward VI. During the reign of Elizabeth I, James I, and Charles I, ten shilling coins were issued in the denominations of half pounds and half unites. [6] Sovereigns and half sovereigns were not to re-emerge until 1817. [6]

George III ascended in 1760, and by 1801 was the monarch of a United Great Britain and Ireland. [5] Revolutionary war was breaking out, with 13 of the American colonies declaring themselves independent in retaliation to heavy taxation by Britain. [5] The Anglo-French war devastated the British economy, to which the Bank of England responded by issuing banknotes in place of gold coinage for the first time. There was also a surge in Spanish eight reales stamped with the King’s image and the issuing of copper tokens by British businesses. [5]

William Wellesly Pole was appointed Master of the Mint in 1812. [6] Due to the Napoleonic wars, large amounts of gold had left Britain. Pole responded by suggesting new gold coinage of ten shilling, twenty shilling, forty shilling and five-pound pieces, which constituted the Great Recoinage approved in 1816. [6] The modern sovereign and half sovereign featuring the famous design by Benedetto Pistrucci of St George slaying the dragon was proclaimed as currency in 1817, and minting commenced later that year. [1]

Mintage of the denominations has continued since, with no alterations in weight and fineness. [1]

Circulation years

1544–1547

Half Sovereigns were part of the third class of coinage introduced by Henry VIII in 1544. [1] As well as an increase in the value of gold of 10% in 1526, the standard fineness of coins was debased so that the sovereign valued at 22s.6d. weighed 192 grains (12.4 grams) compared to 240 grains (15.6 grams) when Henry VIII began his reign. [1] The half sovereign which weighs 96 grains (6.2 grams), replaced the ryal valued at ten shillings. [1] The debasement of gold coins went from 23 7/8 carat fine to 23 carats, and then 22 carats and finally only 20 carats fineness (0.96 fine). [6] [1] This was the first time gold had been minted below the standard of 23 carats of fineness. [8]

The half sovereign of Henry VIII measures at 30 mm in diameter and weighs 100 or 19 grains (6.22 grams). In 1544–1547, three different half sovereigns were minted at the Tower, Southwark and Bristol mints; therefore, each featured the mint marks of their respective mints. Marsh describes the obverse of these half sovereigns: "…featuring the portrait of a crowned King Henry VIII seated in his chair of state holding his sceptre and orb, the Tudor rose at his feet." The reverse features a crowned shield which is quartered, containing the arms of France and England held by a lion and dragon. [6] [1]

England, Henry VIII, 1509-1547 - Half Sovereign (obverse) - 1969.174.a - Cleveland Museum of Art.jpg England, Henry VIII, 1509-1547 - Half Sovereign (reverse) - 1969.174.b - Cleveland Museum of Art.jpg

1547–1553

Edward VI succeeded his father at only nine years of age. Half sovereigns were struck at the Tower and Southwark mints at this time and the half sovereigns exclusively feature his youthful portrait. Aside from featuring the portrait of Edward VI, the addition of "EDWARD 6" to the legend of some coins and featuring different mint marks, half sovereigns of this time do not differ from previous issues. [9] [6]

Half Sovereign of Edward VI Half Sovereign Edward VI 1551 681778.jpg
Half Sovereign of Edward VI

From 1549–550 half sovereigns minted at the Tower Mint, and Durham House featured an uncrowned bust of Edward VI on the obverse. London, Southwark and Durham House mints struck half-length crowned busts of the king. [8]

Edward VI wrote in his diary that he wished to rectify the debasement of coinage during the reign of his father, and in 1549 the fineness of the half sovereign was increased from 20 carat to 22 carat fineness. Coins of this issue have the Roman numeral "VI" instead of "6" after the King's name. [6]

From 1550–1553, fineness of gold coins was increased to 23 carats. The Half sovereign featured a crowned King Edward VI in armour, holding a sceptre and sword on the obverse. The reverse features a crowned shield of heraldic arms. The legend reads "SCVTVM FIDEI PROTEGET EVM" which is translated as "The shield of faith shall protect him", although, some half sovereigns have "TIMOR DOMINE FONS VITE" or "The fear of the Lord is the fountain of Life" from Proverbs 14:27, and also "LVCERNA PEDIBVS MEIS VERBVM TVVM" which means "Thy word is a lantern unto my feet" from Pslam 119:105. [6]

1603

The first coinage of James I commenced in 1603 and features a crowned bust on the obverse, and a crowned shield on the reverse and thistle mint mark. [8] The shield of arms featured on James I’s coinage features the lions of England and the fleurs-de-lis of France in the first and fourth quarters, the second quarter features the lion of Scotland and the third quarter the harp of Ireland. [6] The reverse legend reads “EXVRGAT DEVS DISSIPENTVR INIMICI” which translates as “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered” from Psalms 68:1. [6] In 1604, James I reduced the weight of gold coinage, and renamed sovereigns and half sovereigns to unites and half unites. [6]

Half sovereigns were to be replaced by James I's successor Charles II by the half guinea.[ citation needed ]

1816–1820

The reign of George III saw many changes in the numismatic landscape. Paper currency was used rather than gold for the first time, and the invention of steam power revolutionised coin manufacturing. [6]

What are considered the first modern half sovereigns were introduced in 1817, as they are the first milled half sovereigns, or as Marsh cites that Ruding describes them as: "[the coins] with a new invented graining on the edge of the piece", and also because there has been no change in the weight of 61.637 grains (3.994 grams) and 22 carat fineness since. [1] These coins were valued at 10 shillings and replaced the seven shilling piece or quarter guinea. [1]

The obverse of the half sovereign features the portrait of George III wearing a laurel wreath surrounded by the inscription “GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA”, which was designed by famous die cutter Benedetto Pistrucci. [1] On the Reverse which was designed by William Wyon, there is a crowned shield bearing the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom and the Hanoverian arms in the centre of the shield. [1] The reverse legend reads “BRITANNIARUM REX FID:DEF”. Coins were minted between 1817–1819, however, sovereigns of 1819 are extremely rare and no half sovereigns from this year have been recorded. [6]

1820–1830

The first type of half sovereign minted during the reign of George IV  features his portrait engraved by Pistrucci wearing a laurel wreath on the obverse and an ornately garnished crowned shield on the reverse which was designed by Johann Baptist Merlen. [8] [6] These coins which were issued in 1821 were quickly withdrawn due to their similarity in appearance to the sixpence, meaning that the sixpence could be gilded and passed off as a half sovereign. [1]

A second type was issued and differs in that the shield on the reverse is plain, whilst a third type features a bareheaded king. [8]

Another type is similar to the third but has an extra tuft of hair in the portrait and a heavier border. Pistrucci’s bust design was replaced by an engraving by William Wyon, as Pistrucci had upset George IV by refusing to copy the bust sculpture by Sir Francis Chantrey. [6]

1830–1837

Half sovereigns were not issued as a currency piece during the reign of William IV until 1834. [1] The small size half sovereign is 17.9mm in diameter and the obverse features a bare head bust of William IV, which was engraved by William Wyon from the bust of William IV by Sir Francis Chantrey. [1] There is a crowned shield and mantle on the reverse which was modelled and engraved by Jean Baptise Merlen. [8] [1] These coins were struck with both plain and milled edges. [8]

The large size half sovereign measures 19.4mm in diameter with a similar design. [8]

There was also an error dated 1836 struck from a Sixpence die. [8]   Mint ledgers from this reign record that £60,000 or 120,000 half sovereigns dated 1834 being recalled due to their similarity to the seven shilling or third guinea pieces, which were being gilded and used as counterfeit. [1]

Victoria, 1837–1901

Young head coinage, 1838–1887

1870 Half Sovereign featuring the type A4 young head bust of Victoria Modern coin , Half sovereign of Victoria (FindID 188013).jpg
1870 Half Sovereign featuring the type A4 young head bust of Victoria

The first half sovereigns of Victoria’s reign were issued in 1838. [1] The coins feature William Wyon’s youthful portrait of Victoria on the obverse, of which there are five variations and a shield reverse with the escutcheon containing the Hanoverian arms omitted as the right to the Kingdom of Hanover was exclusively for the male line of succession. [8] [1] The type A2 features the second head of Victoria with the date below on the obverse and the die number below the shield on the reverse. [8] The type A3 featured the third and larger portrait. Type A4 features the fourth young head which has a hair ribbon. Type A5 features the fifth young head which shows no front ear lobe. [8]

The Victorian era saw the introduction of branch mints for the first time, beginning with The Sydney Branch Mint, and growing to include The Melbourne Branch Mint. [1]

Jubilee coinage 1887–1893

The first half sovereigns with the new veiled bust were issued in 1887 for the Queen’s golden jubilee. [1] Coins were minted at the Royal Mint in London from 1887–1893 but not in 1888 or 1889, and at The Melbourne Branch Mint in 1887 and 1893, as well as The Sydney Branch Mint in 1887, 1889 and 1891. Coinage features an older crowned bust of Victoria on the obverse and shield reverse. [8]

Old head coinage 1893–1901

The obverse features an older featured veiled bust by engraver Thomas Brock, and the reverse features the famous design of St. George slaying the dragon for the first time on a half sovereign. [8] The Legend also has the addition “IND. IMP.” (Empress of India). [1] Coins were minted for the first time at The Perth Branch Mint. [1]

1901–1910

The first half sovereigns during Edward VII’s reign were issued in 1902 and continued until 1910. [8] [1] The coin features a bare head bust of Edward VII on the obverse and St. George reverse. Coins were minted in London, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. [6]

1910–1936

Half sovereigns of this reign were first issued in 1911 and continued until 1915, however, they continued to be struck at the branch mints at later dates, including the new branch mint of Pretoria in South Africa. [6] [1]  The coin features a bare head bust of George V on the obverse and a St. George reverse.[ citation needed ]

World War I saw that gold was withdrawn from circulation in order to pay for war materials and essential imports. [6]

1936–1952

Half sovereigns were not introduced into circulation at this time, however, there was a gold proof half sovereign issued for the Coronation in 1937. [1] The coin features a bare head bust of George VI on the obverse and St. George reverse, and only plain edge coins were minted. [8]

Australian half sovereign

The Royal Mint, Sydney 1888 The Royal Mint, Sydney 1888.jpg
The Royal Mint, Sydney 1888

In response to large amounts of unrefined gold circulating during the Gold Rush, The Sydney Mint was approved in 1853 and opened in 1855; thus, the Sydney General Hospital became the first overseas branch of the London Royal Mint. [10] The Sydney Mint issued the Australia reverse Sydney Mint half sovereigns from 1855–1866, the first year was a very low mintage and the coins are very rare. [1] The next issues were the British Imperial type from the Sydney Mint in 1871 and Melbourne in 1872. [1] The Perth Mint first issued half sovereigns in 1900 and the last issue was in 1918. [1]

Bullion and mintages were reclaimed by the British economy and sent via ship to Europe, including the sovereign. This meant that the lower valued half sovereign was in heavy circulation in Australia. [11]

OBVERSE QUEEN VICTORIA, first type, 1856, with filletted head of Victoria left by James Wyon. Good extremely fine or nearly uncirculated and rare in this condition.jpg REVERSE QUEEN VICTORIA, first type, 1856, with filletted head of Victoria left by James Wyon. Good extremely fine or nearly uncirculated and rare in this condition.jpg

Modern collector and bullion Coin

The half sovereigns of Elizabeth II continue to be minted as proofs and as bullion. [1] A new half sovereign is released annually, as well as special issues. [1] Sovereigns from various reigns continue to be of special interest to collectors, and often sell for a far greater price than their nominal value. [8]

OBVERSE Elizabeth II 2002 Half Sovereign Proof.jpg REVERSE Elizabeth II 2002 half sovereign proof.jpg

Benedetto Pistrucci's St George Slaying the Dragon

Benedetto Pistrucci's original sketch of St. George Slaying the Dragon Pistrucci sovereign sketch.jpeg
Benedetto Pistrucci's original sketch of St. George Slaying the Dragon

As Myatt and Hanley describe, the design of St George slaying the dragon is an example of a numismatic motif, with a similar design being used in 320 BC on a silver Macedonian coin and appearing on later Roman coinage. [3] St George was made England’s patron saint by Richard the Lionheart. [3] The design on sovereigns and half sovereigns issued during the reign of George III, features his namesake saint slaying the Napoleonic dragon of Waterloo. [3]

The Italian die-cutter responsible – Benedetto Pistrucci was appointed as an assistant engraver at the Royal Mint on June 26, 1816. [1] After the death of Chief Engraver Thomas Wyon in 1817, Pistrucci took over his duties, however, his Italian ethnicity prevented him from inheriting Wyon’s official title. [1] Pistrucci’s wax models of St George could not be reproduced by any of the Mint engravers, so his original design was used in 1817. [1] The design features a classic Greek warrior on horseback and was such a success with the public, it eventually did earn Pistrucci the title of Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint. [3]

The original design was continued into the reign of George IV, [1] however, whilst the design was used for sovereigns, it only commenced to be featured on half sovereigns in 1893 during the reign of Victoria. [8]

Orientation of effigees/busts

As J.J. Cullimore Allen states in Sovereigns of the British Empire,

"As is well known, it has long been the tradition that the effigee or bust of each succeeding monarch faces in the opposite direction to that of the predecessor. The result of this custom, as they affect the sovereign [and half sovereign], are as follows:

George III faces to the right

George IV faces to the left

William IV faces to the right

Victoria faces to the left

Edward VII faces to the right

George V faces to the left

Edward VIII faces to the left

George VI faces to the left

Elizabeth II faces to the right." [9]

There is a break in consistency of this custom from Edward VIII to George VI, however, the Royal Mint proceeded with the custom following the ascension of George VI as though there had been none. [9]

Specimens and mintages

Half Sovereigns of George III [1]
DateType/VarietyObverseReverseCoins Minted
1817Normal OBVERSE GEORGE III, new coinage, half sovereign, 1817 (S3786). Nearly uncirculated.jpg REVERSE GEORGE III, new coinage, half sovereign, 1817 (S3786). Nearly uncirculated.jpg 2,080,197
1817Proof (WR204)Not Known
1818Normal1,030,286
1818Proof (WR205)Not Known
1818/17Obv. Overdate 18 over 17Not Known
1820Normal (note: the zero sometimes varies in size) OBVERSE GEORGE III, new coinage, half sovereign, 1820 (S.3786). Minor surface marks, otherwise extremely fine.jpg REVERSE GEORGE III, new coinage, half sovereign, 1820 (S.3786). Minor surface marks, otherwise extremely fine.jpg 35,043
1820Patterns (WR206-7)Not Known
Type I Laureate Head Half Sovereigns of George IV [1]
DateType/VarietyObverseReverseCoins Minted
1821Normal OBVERSE GEORGE IV, laureate head, gold half sovereign, with ornate garnished crowned shield, 1821. Good extremely fine - extremely fine, with proof-like field, very rare.jpg REVERSE GEORGE IV, laureate head, gold half sovereign, with ornate garnished crowned shield, 1821. Good extremely fine - extremely fine, with proof-like field, very rare.jpg 231,288
1821Proof (WR 244)Not Known
Type II Laureate Head Half Sovereigns of George IV [1]
DateType/VarietyObverseReverseCoins Minted
1823Normal224,280
1823Proof (WR 245)Not Known
1824Normal591,538
1824Proof (WR 246)Not Known
1825Normal OBVERSE GEORGE IV, laureate head, gold half sovereign, with plain crowned shield, 1825 (S.3803). Extremely fine.jpg REVERSE GEORGE IV, laureate head, gold half sovereign, with plain crowned shield, 1825 (S.3803). Extremely fine.jpg 761,150
Type III Bare Head Half Sovereigns of George IV [1]
DateType/VarietyObverseReverseCoins Minted
1825Proof (WR 248)Not Known
1826Normal344,830
1826Proof (WR 249)Not Known
1826Hair curls differ (extra tuft of hair)Not Known
1826Proof. Hair curls differNot Known
1827Normal492,014
1827Proof (WR 250)Not Known
1827Hair curls differNot Known
1828Normal OBVERSE GEORGE IV, half sovereign, bare head left, 1828 (S.3804). Nearly extremely fine.jpg REVERSE GEORGE IV, half sovereign, bare head left, 1828 (S.3804). Nearly extremely fine.jpg 1,244,754
1828Proof (WR 251)Not Known
1828Hair curls differNot Known
1829Proof (WR 252)Unique
1829/1823 Mule. Pattern (WR 253)Not Known
Half Sovereigns of William IV [1]
DateType/VarietyObverseReverseCoins Minted
1831Small size proof plain edge (WR 267)Not Known
1831Small size Milled edge proof (WR 268)Not Known
1834Small size (17.9mm)133,899
1835Normal size (19.4mm) OBVERSE WILLIAM IV, half sovereign, 1835. Nearly uncirculated - uncirculated and rare in this condition.jpg REVERSE WILLIAM IV, half sovereign, 1835. Nearly uncirculated - uncirculated and rare in this condition.jpg 772,554
1836Normal size (19.4mm)146,865
1836Obv. struck from sixpence die (19.4mm)Not Known
1827Normal size (19.4mm)160,207
1837Proof (WR 269)
Type IA Shield Half Sovereigns of Queen Victoria, London Mint (No Mint Mark) [1]
DateType/VarietyOverseReverseCoins Minted
1838Obv. I Small bust273,341
1839Plain edge proof. Die axis ↑↓ (WR343)Not known
1839Plain edge proof. Die axis ↑↓ (WR344)Not known
1839Milled edge proof (WR345)Not known
1841Normal508,835
1842Normal2,223,352
1843Normal1,251,762
1844Normal OBVERSE QUEEN VICTORIA, young head, half sovereign, 1844 (S.3859). Nearly extremely fine.jpg REVERSE QUEEN VICTORIA, young head, half sovereign, 1844 (S.3859). Nearly extremely fine.jpg 1,127,007
1845Normal887,526
1846Normal1,063,928
1847Normal928,656
1848Normal410,595
1848/7Obv. I Overdate. 8 over 7Not known
1848Wide spaced date figuresNot known
1848Close grouped date figuresNot known
1849Normal845,112
1850Normal179,275
1851Normal773,575
1852Normal1,377,671
1853Normal2,708,796
1853Proof.Small date (WR346)Not known
1853Proof.Large date(WR347)Not known
1855Normal1,120,362
1856Normal2,391,909
1856/5Obv.1. Overdate. 6 over 5Not known
1857Normal728,223
1858Obv. 2. Slightly larger bust

Rev. Garnished shield with dot

855,578
1859Normal2,203,813
1860Normal1,131,500
1861Normal1,130,867
1862NormalNot known
1863NormalNot known
1871Obv. 2. Bust slightly turned

Rev. Garnished shield without dot

Not known
1876Obv. 4. Enlarged bustNot known
YearCoins minted
19822,500,000
1983–1999limited edition proofs only
2000146,822
200194,763
200261,347
200347,818
200434,924
200530,299

Counterfeiting

The half sovereign is a "protected coin" for the purposes of Part II of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coins of the pound sterling</span> British current and historic coinage

The standard circulating coinage of the United Kingdom, British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories is denominated in pennies and pounds sterling, and ranges in value from one penny sterling to two pounds. Since decimalisation, on 15 February 1971, the pound has been divided into 100 (new) pence. Before decimalisation, twelve pence made a shilling, and twenty shillings made a pound.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of the English penny (1485–1603)</span>

The History of the English penny from 1485 to 1603 covers the period of the Tudor dynasty.

Double florin British coin, struck 1887–1890

The double florin, or four-shilling piece, was a British coin produced by the Royal Mint between 1887 and 1890. One of the shortest-lived of all British coin denominations, it was struck in only four years. Its obverse, designed by Joseph Boehm and engraved by Leonard Charles Wyon, depicts Queen Victoria, whilst the reverse, featuring national symbols of the United Kingdom, was designed by Wyon based on the coinage of Charles II.

Florin (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British florin, or two-shilling piece was a coin worth 1/10 of one pound, or 24 pence. It was issued from 1849 until 1967, with a final issue for collectors dated 1970. It was the last coin circulating immediately prior to decimalisation to be demonetised, in 1993, having for a quarter of a century circulated alongside the ten-pence piece, identical in specifications and value.

Farthing (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British farthing historically abbreviated qua., was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/960 of one pound, 1/48 of one shilling, or 1/4 of one penny. It was minted in copper and later in bronze, and replaced the earlier English farthings.

Threepence (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British threepence piece, usually simply known as a threepence, thruppence, or thruppenny bit, was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/80 of one pound or 1/4 of one shilling. It was used in the United Kingdom, and earlier in Great Britain and England. Similar denominations were later used throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth countries, notably in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

The five pound gold coin is a British coin with a nominal value of five pounds sterling, produced in several periods since the early 19th century. Since 1990 it is also known as the five-sovereign piece or quintuple sovereign as it is equivalent to five sovereign coins and shares the alloy and design features of the sovereign.

Guinea (coin) British gold coin minted between 1663 and 1814

The guinea was a coin, minted in Great Britain between 1663 and 1814, that contained approximately one-quarter of an ounce of gold. The name came from the Guinea region in West Africa, from where much of the gold used to make the coins was sourced. It was the first English machine-struck gold coin, originally representing a value of 20 shillings in sterling specie, equal to one pound, but rises in the price of gold relative to silver caused the value of the guinea to increase, at times to as high as thirty shillings. From 1717 to 1816, its value was officially fixed at twenty-one shillings.

Crown (British coin) British coin introduced in 1707

The British crown was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/4 of one pound, or 5 shillings, or 60 pence. The crown was first issued during the reign of Edward VI, as part of the coinage of the Kingdom of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sovereign (British coin)</span> British gold coin

The sovereign is a British gold coin with a nominal value of one pound sterling (£1) and contains 0.2354 troy oz of pure gold. Struck since 1817, it was originally a circulating coin that was accepted in Britain and elsewhere in the world; it is now a bullion coin and is sometimes mounted in jewellery. In addition, circulation strikes and proof examples are often collected for their numismatic value. In most recent years, it has borne the design of Saint George and the Dragon on the reverse; the initials of the designer, Benedetto Pistrucci, are visible to the right of the date.

Benedetto Pistrucci Italian engraver (1783–1855)

Benedetto Pistrucci was an Italian gem-engraver, medallist and coin engraver, probably best known for his Saint George and the Dragon design for the British sovereign coin. Pistrucci was commissioned by the British government to create the large Waterloo Medal, a project which took him thirty years to complete.

The British farthing was a British coin worth a quarter of an old penny. It ceased to be struck after 1956 and was demonetised from 1 January 1961.

Sixpence (British coin) Former coin of the United Kingdom and other territories

The British sixpence piece, sometimes known as a tanner or sixpenny bit, was a denomination of sterling coinage worth 1/40 of one pound or half of one shilling. It was first minted in 1551, during the reign of Edward VI, and circulated until 1980. The coin was made from silver from its introduction in 1551 until 1947, and thereafter in cupronickel.

The coins of the South African pound were part of the physical form of South Africa's historical currency, the South African pound. Prior to the Union of 1910, various authorities issued their own pounds, some as independent entities. After the Union but before 1923, coins in circulation were mostly British, but the coins of Paul Kruger's South African Republic remained in circulation. In 1923, South Africa began to issue its own coins, adopting coins that were identical in size and value to those used in Great Britain: 12 pence (12d) = 1 shilling (1s), and 20s = 1 pound (£1). On 14 February 1961, the Union of South Africa adopted a decimal currency, replacing the pound with the Rand.

History of the halfpenny

The British halfpenny coin was worth 1/480th of a pound sterling. At first in its 700-year history it was made from silver, but as the value of silver increased the coin was made from base metals. It was finally abandoned in 1969 as part of the process of decimalising the British currency. "Halfpenny", colloquially written ha'penny, was pronounced HAY-pə-nee; "1 ½d" was spoken as a penny ha'penny or three ha'pence.

The threepence or threepenny bit was a denomination of currency used by various jurisdictions in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, valued at 1/80 of a pound or ¼ of a shilling until decimalisation of the pound sterling and Irish pound in 1971. It was also used in some parts of the British Empire, notably Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Jean Baptiste Merlen French engraver and medallist (1769–1850)

Jean Baptiste Merlen (1769–1850) was a French engraver and medallist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Double sovereign</span> British gold coin

The double sovereign is a gold coin of the United Kingdom, with a nominal value of two pounds sterling (£2) or forty shillings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jubilee coinage</span> British coins depicting Queen Victoria

Jubilee coinage or Jubilee head coinage are British coins with an obverse featuring a depiction of Queen Victoria by Joseph Edgar Boehm. The design was placed on the silver and gold circulating coinage beginning in 1887, and on the Maundy coinage beginning in 1888. The depiction of Victoria wearing a crown that was seen as too small was widely mocked, and was replaced in 1893. The series saw the entire issuance of the double florin (1887–1890) and, in 1888, the last issue for circulation of the groat, or fourpence piece, although it was intended for use in British Guiana. No bronze coins were struck with the Jubilee design.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Old Head coinage</span> 1893–1901 British coins

The Old Head coinage or Veiled Head coinage were British coins struck and dated between 1893 and 1901, which featured on the obverse a portrait by Thomas Brock of an aged Queen Victoria wearing a diadem partially hidden by a widow's veil. It replaced the Jubilee coinage, struck since 1887, which had been widely criticised both for the portrait of the Queen, and because the reverses of most of the coins did not state their monetary values. Some denominations continued with their old reverse designs, with Benedetto Pistrucci's design for the sovereign extended to the half sovereign. New designs for some of the silver coinage were inaugurated, created either by Brock or by Edward Poynter, and all denominations less than the crown, or five-shilling piece, stated their values.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 Marsh, Michael A. (2017). The Gold Sovereign. Exeter, Devon: Token Publishing (Revised Ed.). pp. 107–113.
  2. "British Half Sovereigns & Technical Specification".
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Myatt & Hanley, Bill & Tom (1980). Australian Coins, Notes & Medals. Melbourne, Australia: Castle Books.
  4. McDonald, Greg (2017). Pocket Guide to Australian Coins and Banknotes. Riverwood, Australia: Greg McDonald Publishing and Numismatics Pty Ltd. p. 43.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Whittington, Bob (2017). Money Talks. Scotland, UK: Whittles Publishing. pp. 76–95.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 Seaby, Peter (1985). The Story of British Coinage. London: Seaby Publishing. pp. 81–100.
  7. Whittington, Bob (2017). Money Talks. Scotland, UK: Whittles Publishing. pp. 76–95. ISBN   978-1849953160.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 Howard, Emma (2019). Coins of England & The United Kingdom. London: Spink & Son LTD. p. 237.
  9. 1 2 3 Allen, James John Cullimore (1965). Captain. London: Spink & Son, Ltd. p. 12.
  10. "Royal Mint, Sydney". Research Data Australia. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  11. Poovey, Mary (2003). The Financial System in Nineteenth-Century Britain. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 71.
  12. The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, section 27(1), as read with the Forgery and Counterfeiting (Protected Coins) Order 1981 (S.I. 1981/505), article 2 and Schedule
Preceded by
Ryal
Half Pound
1544–1926
Succeeded by