George III 1817 Gold Sovereign
1817: A New Coin to Resolve Old Problems
The early 1800's were a difficult time for Britain. Great Britain was a global power in almost everything, but there were other countries and people who wanted to play the game of Empires, and they were more than willing to face the might of Britain's massive military force.
The French Revolutionary Wars (1792–1802) and the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were lengthy campaigns and required a considerable amount of money to finance. Britain paid many other countries (like Austria, Russia and Prussia) for the support of their armies and Wellington's own army alone was costing the today equivalent of £5 million per month in wages.
Even the considerable coffers of the Bank of England started to feel the effects. The biggest problem was that armies will usually only accept "specie", which means money in the form of gold or silver coins. Paper money and any other promises were just not acceptable, as the value of them was contingent on who won! This led to a serious shortage of precious metals in Europe and a general problem with the availability of coins in Britain, especially lower value coins.
As soon as the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815, the British Government started work on restoring financial stability. It was called the "Great Recoinage of 1816" and the main change was to replace the gold Guinea (which could vary in value according to the price of gold) with a new gold which would be fixed at a value of one pound sterling, and then introduce lower value coins in silver. The silver coins, for the first time, would not be worth their face value in silver.
The name of the new coin would be the "Gold Sovereign". At that time standard (22 carat) gold was fixed at £46 14s 6d per troy pound, so a little maths meant a £1 coin needed to weigh 123.2744783 grains or 7.988030269g. That became the weight of the 1817 Gold Sovereign and has been the same weight ever since.
The new Sovereign was first minted in 1817, and it is that same coin that is being offered for sale now. The Obverse (front, heads) carried a portrait of King George III, designed and engraved by one of the King's favourite artists, Benedetto Pistrucci.
The Reverse (back, tails) shows one of the most famous coin images ever: St George and the Dragon. The reverse was also the work of Benedetto Pistrucci (1783-1855), an Italian engraver who became chief medallist at the Royal Mint. The George and the Dragon design is still the most common reverse image used on gold sovereigns today.
The entire image is depicted inside a Garter. The Garter is associated with The Most Noble Order of the Garter, which is an order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system. It bears the motto of the Order: HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE, which translates to 'Evil be to him that evil thinks'.
It is interesting to note that on the 1817 image, St George is slaying the dragon using the shaft of a broken spear (the other part is on the floor to the left). Modern sovereigns usually have St George holding a sword.
Only 3,235,239 sovereigns were struck in 1817. It is very unlikely that a large number exist today, as many have been melted down over the last two centuries. No-one knows for sure how many 1817 Gold Sovereigns are are still left in existence, but it is known to be a rare coin.
Sovereigns issued from 1817 to 1837 are often described as 'Early King' sovereigns. King George III, King George IV and King William IV are all depicted on sovereigns minted during these years.
The Monarch: George III (1760-1820)
Born on 4 June 1738 to Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha in the house of Hanover, George III reigned for over 59 years. It is the record longest reign for a King, only beaten overall by Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria.
George had 15 children - nine sons and six daughters. In the latter part of his life George suffered from a mental illness and his son George became Prince Regent from 1811-1820 and ruled on his behalf. On George III's death in 1820, the Prince Regent became King George IV.
Note the Latin spelling of George on his coins: Georgivs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q: Is this 1817 Gold Sovereign original and genuine?
A: Yes, and we guarantee it. With high value coins and investments such as the 1817 Gold Sovereign, collectors and investors often worry about counterfeits, but actually gold coins are very difficult to forge due to gold's unique properties of density and colour. Gold is extremely dense and to use another metal and gold-plate it would result in a coin that is under-weight, over-diameter or half-again as thick, something that would be spotted very easily by a expert. You can buy from us 100% worry free.
Q: Why use 91.67% gold and not pure gold?
A: In the past, gold coins have been the normal circulation coins. Pure gold is very soft and would wear very quickly, so mints would add another metal, usually copper, in the ratio 11/12ths gold and 1/12th copper. This alloy is 22 carat or 91.67% gold and is considerably harder and more durable than 24 carat gold.
Q: Is the 1817 Gold Sovereign Coin exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT)
A: Yes, the 1817 Gold Sovereign Coin is exempt from Capital Gains Tax. You should ask your advisor of the implications of this, but only coins that are legal tender in the UK qualify for this. The 1817 Gold Sovereign is legal tender for £1 so meets this criteria. Always consult an accountant or legal/tax advisor for the current legislation regarding gold investments.
Q: Is the 1817 Gold Sovereign subject to VAT?
A: The 1817 Gold Sovereign is exempt from VAT.