The Royal Mint's 2021 Sovereign, marking the Her Majesty the Queen's 95th birthday, combines centuries old craftsmanship with understated new details to produce an attractive and prestigious collectors item.
Keeping reading for all you need to know about the historic design of the eye-catching 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign family, as well as the other striking standards available and the projected value of these highly collectable coins.
The Chief Coin of the World
Described by the Royal Mint as their 'Flagship Coin' and by others as the 'Chief Coin of the World', the Gold Sovereign is instantly recognisable to any collector. Sovereigns were first minted in England in 1489 during the reign of the first Tudor King, Henry VII. They were resurrected in the nineteenth-century, following the Coinage Act of 1816 which officially put Great Britain on the gold standard. Once Sovereigns were a symbol of Empire, circulating across the globe. This proud heritage lingers about the commemorative Sovereigns issued annually by the Royal Mint for a host of eager buyers.
The beautiful and varied designs appeal to some while the 22 Carat purity is the primary value to others. Modern full Sovereigns are struck to the same specifications as they were in 1817: 7.98 grams of 22 carat gold. A trace of copper strengthens the Sovereign and lends it a distinct pinkish tone. With the reintroduction of additional gold coins, based on the Sovereign, like the Quarter-Sovereign and the Double-Sovereign, this storied coin now has even broader appeal. Increasingly limited mintages, particularly of Gold Proof Sovereigns, ensure rarity and value.
An Important Royal Birthday
The 2021 Sovereign is a celebration of Her Majesty the Queen's 95th birthday. The Queen will celebrate both her real birthday (21 April) and her official birthday (13 June) in 2021 and mark 69 years since the beginning of her reign. Over nearly seven decades, five different effigies have appeared on Elizabeth II's coinage. The 2021 Sovereign features the fifth and latest, introduced in 2015.
The fifth effigy is the work of Jody Clark who joined the Royal Mint in 2012. His design, created digitally from photographs, became the first royal coinage portrait to be created by a Royal Mint engraver in more than 100 years. According to Clark, his aim was to produce an accurate but warm portrayal of Britain's longest reigning monarch.
Jody Clark's portrait of Elizabeth II is the fifth official effigy to feature on UK coinage.
For the Her Majesty's 95th birthday, the 2021 Sovereign has been given some subtle new details. The milled or reeded edge has precisely 95 ridges in an discreet nod to the occasion. In addition, coins in the 2021 Sovereign family all carry a unique privy mark in the form of a crown made up of the numerals '95'. The 2021 Sovereign is a refined design to mark an important royal milestone.
Saint George and the Dragon
The digitally rendered reverse of the 2021 Sovereign is complemented by a two hundred year old obverse, remastered for the twenty-first-century. Anyone with a passing interest in Sovereigns will, no doubt, recognise Benedetto Pistrucci's seminal George and the Dragon, a design that has survived on coins since it was engraved for the new Sovereigns of 1817.
Called the 'handsomest coin in Europe' when it was first introduced, the motif is dynamic, featuring a wounded beast, trampled by a magnificent steed ridden by a war-like but scantily dressed St George. The image of St George, patron saint of England, triumphing over the dragon, was an inspired choice, particularly as Pistrucci employed it in the wake of British victory at Waterloo.
The design was adapted for Silver Crowns issued in 1818, replacing St George's pike with a sword, and it is this variation that has established a perennial presence on British coinage. It appeared on Sovereigns issued by Queen Victoria and, on its 200th anniversary, appeared on the 2017 Sovereign. For recent issues, including the 2021 Sovereign, Pistrucci's centuries old dies have been digitally remastered using high-tech imaging and design equipment. This ensures that the fine detail of the great engraver's masterful work is reproduced in all its glory.
Benedetto Pistrucci's timeless Saint George design, as it appears on a 1902 Gold Sovereign.
The 2021 Sovereign Family
The 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign family is made up of five coins, ranging from a Quarter Sovereign to a Five Sovereign Piece. As with all Sovereigns minted since 1817, the 2021 issue is composed of 22 carat (91.7%) gold. In accordance with tradition, none of the 2021 Sovereigns display their value on the coins surface: their denomination is established by their weight and size which is in proportion to face value.
The 2021 Gold Proof Quarter Sovereign
- Diameter: 13.50 millimetres
- Maximum Coin Mintage: 1,760
- Nominal Face Value: 25p / Twenty Five Pence
- Weight: 1.997 grams
- Actual Gold Weight: 0.0588 troy ounces
The Quarter Sovereign was introduced by The Royal Mint in 2009, though patterns for such coins were struck in the nineteenth-century. The Royal Mint's Quarter Sovereigns have never been circulated – they were designed for collectors – but recent issues, including the 2021 Gold Proof Quarter Sovereign, are legal tender as Britain's smallest modern gold coin.
The 2021 Gold Proof Half Sovereign
- Diameter: 19.30 millimetres
- Maximum Coin Mintage: 3,260
- Limited Edition Presentation: 1,500
- Nominal Value: 50p / Fifty Pence
- Weight: 3.99 grams
- Actual Gold Weight: 0.1177 troy ounces
The Half Sovereign was first issued in 1544 by Henry VIII. It was reintroduced in 1817. From this point, Half Sovereigns have had a consistent diameter (19.30 millimetres), thickness (0.99 millimetres) and weight (3.99 grams of 0.1177 troy ounces of gold). The 2021 Gold Proof Half Sovereign is no different in this regard and also bears the same reverse design as the 1817 issue: Pistrucci's George and the Dragon.
The 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign
- Diameter: 22.05 millimetres
- Maximum Coin Mintage: 9,850
- Limited Edition Presentation: 7,995
- Nominal Value: £1 / One Pound
- Weight: 7.981 grams
- Actual Gold Weight: 0.2354 troy ounces
The beauty, significance and collectability of the Sovereign does not need restating. The Royal Mint's 2021 Gold Proof Full Sovereign features in all of the Gold Proof Sovereign presentation sets released this year. Just under 10,000 of the 2021 Sovereign will be issued, ensuring that, while many collectors will be able to own this sought-after piece, it will sell out very quickly and increase in value fast.
The 2021 Gold Proof Double Sovereign
- Diameter: 28.40 millimetres
- Maximum Coin Mintage: 1,000
- Nominal Value: £2 / Two Pound
- Weight: 15.98 grams
- Actual Gold Weight: 0.4708 troy ounces
Rare proof Double Sovereigns were minted alongside the Tudor sovereign and the reintroduced Sovereign of 1817. A precursor and relation of the modern Two Pound Coin, the Double Sovereign holds twice the nominal value of the Sovereign and is also double the weight. As with its older predecessors, the restricted mintage of the Gold Proof Double Sovereign imparts significant value.
The 2021 Gold Proof Five Sovereign Piece
- Diameter: 36.02 millimetres
- Maximum Coin Mintage: 550
- Nominal Value: £5 / Five Pound
- Weight: 39.94 grams
- Actual Gold Weight: 1.1771 troy ounces
The largest and scarcest coin in the 2021 Sovereign family is the Five Sovereign Piece, otherwise listed as the 'Quintuple Sovereign' or 'Gold Five Pound'. Pattern £5 pieces were struck in the early nineteenth-century, including the famous Una and the Lion, but this weighty coin (39.94 grams, 1.1771 troy ounces) first circulated in 1887. The 2021 Five Sovereign is only available as a proof coin in the 2021 Five Coin Gold Proof Set.
Other Striking Standards
Individual coins in the 2021 Sovereign family are available in three different striking standards:
- Proof: Struck up to six times and hand-finished, these coins are the highest quality available, prized by those with an eye for detail and incredible craftsmanship.
- Brilliant Uncirculated (BU): Polished by hand but struck fewer times than Proof pieces, BU coins achieve a subtler finish than circulating or Bullion coins for an entry-level price.
- Bullion: Coins for the investor. Tradable, tax exempt and highly liquid, bullion standard coins combine iconic, collectible designs with a means to diversify your portfolio.
Whether you prefer the fine detail of the Proof 2021 Sovereign, the accessibility of the BU piece or are choosing to invest in the Bullion option, coins from this commemorative issue are an excellent choice. The standard will, of course, impact the price and resale value of your Royal Mint 2021 Sovereign. As they have the highest quality finish and are issued in the smallest numbers, the 2021 Gold Proof Sovereigns will be the most sought after.
2021 Proof Sovereign Sets
Gold Proof 2021 Sovereigns can be purchased individually with the exception of the Five Sovereign Piece which is only available in a special Five Coin Gold Proof Set. In all, three different 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign sets are available from the Royal Mint:
- The Five Coin Gold Proof Sovereign Set: Features all five coins in the 2021 Sovereign Family in the high-quality finish guaranteed by the Proof standard. If you want to see the 2021 Sovereign design in all its glory and values then the Five Coin Proof Set is the obvious choice. Available in a Limited Edition Presentation of just 500 sets.
- The Four Coin Gold Proof Sovereign Set: Contains all proof issues in the 2021 Sovereign family with the exception of the Five Sovereign Piece.
- The Three Coin Gold Proof Sovereign Set: Includes the Sovereign, the Half Sovereign and the Quarter Sovereign. A Limited Edition Presentation of only 750.
The Five, Four and Three-Coin Proof Sets all come in an attractive presentation box along with a commemorative booklet, exploring the history and significance of the Sovereign.
Collecting and Investing
Sovereigns have long been a shrewd choice for new and seasoned buyers. Part of the appeal is the relative affordability of Gold Sovereigns thanks to their lower gold content, compared to other gold coins like larger and more expensive Britannia. That said, In January 2020, an extremely rare Edward VIII Sovereign became the first British coin to be bought for more than £1 million. Unusual design features, quirks of history and pristine condition can lead to impressive valuations.
Commemorative Sovereigns, issued by the Royal Mint more recently, are also now realising significant sale prices. Examples of the sought after 1989 Gold Proof Sovereign, struck to mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VII's first sovereign, are currently selling for above £3,000. A more recent release, the 2017 Gold Proof Five-Coin Sovereign Set, commemorating 200 years of the modern Sovereign, can now command prices of above £6,000, more than doubling its initial sale price in just three years.
In 2020 the edition limit for that year's Sovereign was severely cut and similarly small Maximum Coin Mintages are in place for 2021. The 2020 Sovereign sold out on the Royal Mint's website very quickly and its likely that the 2021 Sovereign family will sell fast too. Our advice is to decide now which of the different denominations, striking standards and sets appeal and then make your move as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
The 2021 Sovereign is the Royal Mint's latest commemorative Sovereign. It was specially released for 2021 to mark Her Majesty the Queen's 95th birthday. Details of the design, including a special '95' privy mark, nod to the occasion. As well as the classic Sovereign, the Royal Mint have also released 2021 variations of the Quarter-Sovereign, Half-Sovereign, Double-Sovereign and Five-Sovereign Piece. These collectable coins are available in three different striking standards, plus sets.
The 2021 Sovereign family is a set of five coins: the Quarter-Sovereign, the Half-Sovereign, the original Sovereign, the Double-Sovereign and the Five-Sovereign Piece. They feature a unique design for 2021 to celebrate the Queen's 95th birthday. According to tradition, none of the 2021 Sovereign family display their value on the coins surface: their denomination is established by their weight and size. The 2021 Sovereigns are available individually and in sets in three different standards.
The 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign is the highest quality striking of the 2021 Sovereign released by the Royal Mint. Struck up to six times and hand polished, Gold Proof Sovereigns achieve the best possible finish, allowing the fine detail of this remarkable coin to be viewed to its best advantage. You can buy coins from the 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign family individually or in Three-Coin, Four-Coin and Five-Coin Sets though the Gold Proof Five-Sovereign Piece is only available in the Five-Coin Set.
It's understated details that distinguish the 2021 Sovereign from previous Royal Mint commemorative Sovereigns. The 2021 Sovereign marks Her Majesty the Queen's 95th birthday. The coin features a milled edge with 95 ridges as well as a special privy mark: a crown with the numerals '95'. This celebratory 2021 Sovereign bears the date of issue and is released in extremely limited numbers. Previous issues have sold out so we recommend acting fast to secure this unique piece.
You can purchase coins from the 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign family individually but also in three different presentation sets. Available are a Five-Coin Set, a Four-Coin Set and a Three-Coin set, all released in limited numbers. The only way to acquire the extremely limited Gold Proof Five Sovereign Piece is to acquire the Gold Proof Five-Coin Set of which only 500 will be released. All sets come in an attractive presentation box with a commemorative booklet.
As with all commemorative coins released by the Royal Mint, coins in the 2021 Sovereign family are available in three different striking standards: Proof, Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) and Bullion. You can choose the fine detail of the Proof 2021 Sovereign, the accessibility of the BU piece or the investment potential in the Bullion option. As they have the highest quality finish and are issued in the smallest numbers, the 2021 Gold Proof Sovereigns will be the most sought after.
With a competitive range of sets, denominations and striking standards, coins from the 2021 Sovereign family are accessible to those of any budget. We expect that the 2021 Gold Proof Sovereign Five-Coin Set will appeal to serious collectors while the Brilliant Uncirculated individual Sovereigns will make an excellent Christmas present for those looking to commemorate a significant year. The 22-carat gold composition of these coins also makes them a great choice for investors.
Commemorative Sovereigns like the 2021 Sovereign combine iconic designs with 22-carat purity. This makes the coins in the 2021 Sovereign Family appealing both to collectors and investors. Thanks to their lower gold content, Sovereigns are more affordable that other gold coins like the large and expensive Britannia. This low entry point, collectability of the designs, limited issues and the track record of previous Sovereigns increasing in value makes the 2021 Sovereign a smart choice.
The 2021 Sovereign is destined to appeal to new and seasoned collectors. Like previous commemorative Sovereigns, 2021's issue is minted in limited numbers but with some subtle new details that distinguish it from its predecessors. This includes a unique privy mark to celebrate the Queen's 95th birthday. The instantly recognisable coins in the 2021 Sovereign family are available in several different standards, denominations and sets making them accessible to most collectors.