1937 King George VI Gold Proof Sovereign
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Part of a mint of only 5,001 pieces, the 1937 King George VI Gold Proof Sovereign serves as a rare example of gold coinage that featured George VI's portrait during his lifetime, making this coin a must for any keen collector.
An Iconic Image
On the reverse of the regal portrait of the new King George VI, this coin features the recognisable image of Saint George slaying the dragon in an engraving by the famous Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci. This image, created in 1817 during the reign of George III, has been used for sovereigns since their inception.
On ascending to the throne, Albert Frederick Arthur George chose to take George VI as his regnal name, in keeping with his father, so of course the choice to follow the tradition of keeping the figure of Saint George as an accompaniment to the Kings' portrait was a clear decision.
A Distinguished Artist
The master behind a number of coin effigies - including his brother before him during his short tenure as Edward VIII - Humphrey Paget OBE was tasked with creating the portrait of the new King George VI in record time due to the sudden abdication of Edward VIII. The resulting image is seen on the 1937 King George VI Gold Proof Sovereign, and remains the only figure of George VI to appear on gold coinage during his reign.
This portrait follows an unusual break of convention in coin portraits of the monarchy. Traditionally, each monarch follows the next by switching the perspective of the portrait from their predecessor. In the case of Edward VIII and George VI, they both face towards the left. This is purely because of Edward VIII's preference for his left profile, and thus, he broke a tradition spanning centuries of British royalty. George VI chose to face left in his coin portraiture however, reinstating tradition, which has been continued by his daughter, our current monarch Queen Elizabeth II, who faces right.
A Changing World
The early twentieth century saw a change in the worth of using gold coins in circulation, and during the interwar years, gold had less value as currency, and so consequently, the only coins struck in gold during his reign were the coronation set. The lack of new coinage being minted during his reign meant that the legend 'GEORGIVS VI D : G : BR : OMN : REX F : D : IND : IMP' would be incorrect after changing his position to Head of the Commonwealth after India obtained independence in 1947.
The changes in the positions of the King were not the only change during his time on the throne, as several changes to other coinage circulated in his reign occurred to help pay the countries war debts.
The George VI Proof Sovereign contains 7.32 grams of pure gold, with a total weight of 7.98 grams, a fineness of 916.7 and a diameter of 22.05mm. With ever rising gold prices, and the government leaving the Gold Standard in 1931, this meant that the preference became keeping gold out of currency, and instead using it to pay war debts and bolster the economy.
Commemorating a Coronation Year
The George VI 1937 Proof Sovereign originates as part of a set of four coins minted for the King's Coronation year. The set consists of a Gold Five Pound (sometimes known as a Quintuple Sovereign), a Gold Double Sovereign, a Gold Full Sovereign, and a Gold Half-Sovereign. Each of these coins displayed the same obverse and reverse, scaled to the appropriate size.
The coin we are offering in this listing is the 1937 King George VI Gold Proof Sovereign alone. If you are interested in obtaining the entire set, or perhaps a stunning 1937 King George VI Gold Proof Five Pounds: NGC PF64* Cameo, then be sure to check our current catalogue for other pieces in this sought-after collectors set.
Sought After by Collectors
These coins continue to rise in value as they have become particularly sought after in recent years. Public interest has been escalated through popular media such as the television series, The Crown, which has brought with it a renewed interest in the British monarchy and its history.
Although now worth more than its original value, the 1937 King George VI Gold Proof Sovereign is exempt from Capital Gains Tax, as well as being not subject to VAT in either the UK or European Union.
Further reading: George VI's 1937 Gold Proof Sovereign Set.
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