The 200th Anniversary of The Sovereign : Brilliant Uncirculated Gold Sovereign, Struck on 1 July 2017
The Sovereign is arguably the most instantly recognisable of all British coinage. This 2017 Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) gold Sovereign hosts the classic reverse design by Benedetto Pistrucci, in which St George slays the dragon on horseback. The obverse features the 5th Portrait of HM The Queen by Jody Clark. This 'Strike on the Day' coin celebrates the 200th anniversary of the 'modern' Sovereign. Just 1,817 of these individually boxed plain-edge Sovereign coins were minted.
Designing a 200th Anniversary Sovereign
How do you pay tribute to one of the most famous British coin designs of all time? Being in such high regard, the Sovereign is sometimes struck on the day of significant national events and important royal events. To mark the 200th anniversary of the 'modern' Sovereign, a 'Strike on the Day' Sovereign was minted on 1st July 2017, exactly 200 years on from the royal proclamation that revived The Sovereign in 1817. The unusual mintage of 1,817 coins is a nod to 1817, the year the famous Pistrucci Sovereign design was first issued on royal proclamation.
This limited edition Sovereign, finished to Brilliant Uncirculated standard, is also the only coin in the range featuring the Order of the Garter reverse with a plain edge rather than the standard milled edge.
- The 5th Portrait of HM The Queen by Jody Clark is presented on the coin's obverse (heads). The 5th 'couped' Portrait by Clark shows a close-up of Elizabeth II, posed in the Royal Diamond crown, which she wore for her coronation. Jody Clark was the first Royal Mint employee for over 100 years to design a coinage portrait of a Monarch. Clark was also the youngest to be awarded the honour.
- The coin's obverse includes the shortened inscription, 'DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF', which translates to 'By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith'. The phase refers to HM Queen Elizabeth II's position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Elizabeth II has held the role since her accession to the throne in 1952.
- The reverse (tails) of the Sovereign hosts the instantly recognisable 1817 'St George and the Dragon' Sovereign design by Benedetto Pistrucci. Over 200 years ago, Italian engraver Pistrucci was instructed to create designs for George III's silver and gold coins by The Master of The Mint. He soon became known as an exceptionally talented engraver and artist. Although best known for the Sovereign, Pistrucci also undertook a 30-year-long commissioned project by the British government to design the Waterloo Medal.
- The reverse includes the original 1800s inscription, 'HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE', which translates to 'Shame on him who thinks this evil'. The motto is taken from the Order of the Garter and has not been featured on the Sovereign since 1820. The Most Noble Order of the Garter, founded in medieval times, is the most senior knighthood in the British honours system. It is outranked only by the Victoria Cross and the George Cross. St George is the patron saint of the Order of the Garter.
The History of the Sovereign
The Sovereign is considered by many to be the flagship of The Royal Mint and a symbol of the majesty and dignity of The Crown. The first ever Sovereign coin was commissioned by Henry VII in 1489, and by each Tudor Monarch until the reign of James I, when the Sovereign disappeared for two centuries. Revived in 1817 as part of the great coinage reform at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, its traditional heraldic reverse was abandoned in favour of a 'St George and the dragon' design by Benedetto Pistrucci.
However esteemed, the Sovereign fell to the plight of the First World War. It ceased being in circulation when the public were asked to surrender gold Sovereigns to; support the war effort, pay off international debts, and build up the Bank of England reserves. It is unlikely that there is anyone alive today who can remember carrying Sovereigns in a silver purse, ringing them in at shop counters, and weighing the coins with pocket scales.
Buy a 2017 BU Sovereign
This pre-owned 2017 Brilliant Uncirculated Sovereign is struck in 22 carat gold and weighs 7.98g. Today, the Sovereign is considered to be one of the world's oldest coins still in production and a pinnacle of minting excellence.
From 1817 to 2017
The year 2017 witnessed significant change including; Robert Mugabe's forced resignation as the President of Zimbabwe after his thirty-seven year rule, Emmanuel Macron becoming France's youngest President, and Saudi Arabia's new crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman easing the country's conservative restrictions. Over in Hollywood, an embarrassing Oscars mix-up saw 'La La Land' wrongly given the Academy Award for Best Picture instead of 'Moonlight'. Meanwhile, in the UK; all eyes were on the trigger of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, beginning the Brexit proceedings to leave the European Union (EU), and Prince Harry proposed to actress Meghan Markle.
By comparison, 200 years ago, 1817 was most remembered for; the opening of Waterloo Bridge, the publication of Jane Austen's first and last novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion six months after her death, the hoax of Princess Caraboo, protests in the textiles industry over new machines, and of course, the Sovereign resurrection.
The Legend of St George and the Dragon
A classic tale of 'good vs evil' in a legend dating back to third century Britain. The story of 'St George the Dragon Slayer' draws on the anecdote of a Roman soldier who refused to give up his Christian faith. By the 13th century, St George was being portrayed with the red cross of the crusader. The most well-known tale sees St George as a heroic rescuer on horseback sent to rescue a young maiden sacrificed to a dragon, which he slays to save her life. It is widely believed that the dragon was slain at Uffington's Dragon Hill, a Bronze-age site just 20 miles away from The Britannia Coin Company's Royal Wootton Bassett premises.
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