1980 4 Coin Gold Proof Sovereign Set
The Royal Mint’s first modern gold proof Sovereign set, one of just 10,000 issued and one of only two four coin proof sets to feature Arnold Machin’s portrait of Elizabeth II.
The Chief Coin of the World
The very first gold Sovereigns were struck in the 1400s by the Tudor kings and their prestigious legacy was reclaimed when the modern Sovereign was introduced in 1817. Over the next century, Sovereigns became prized across the British Empire, trusted to contain a known and significant quantity of gold.
The Sovereign fell out of circulation in Britain with the start of the First World War. Since 1979, the Royal Mint has issued a new proof Sovereigns annually, attracting a dedicated group of collectors. Fresh designs are eagerly anticipated but older issues, particularly proof Sovereign sets remain popular.
The First Modern Proof Set
In the past, gold proof sets had been issued by The Royal Mint to mark coronations. A very scarce proof set was struck when George VI - Elizabeth II’s father - came to the throne in 1937 which has since become very popular with Sovereign collectors.
A very small number of proof coins were struck for Her Majesty’s 1953 coronation but not issued. Proof Sovereigns would not be regularly struck until 1979 and a proof set would not be offered until 1980. As the first gold Sovereign proof set, the 1980 Four Coin Proof Set is much sought after.
Arnold Machin’s Royal Portrait
All four coins in the 1980 Proof set feature Arnold Machin’s bust of Elizabeth II, known as the ‘decimal’ portrait. A British sculptor and designer, Machin is responsible for a number of coinage designs as well as the royal portrait that has appeared on British stamps since 1967.
Machin’s tiara-wearing effigy of Her Majesty featured on decimal coins from 1968 to 1984 as her second definitive portrait. This portrait only appeared on proof Sovereigns for five years and was only used for two four coin proof sets: those issued in 1980 and 1982.
1980 Proof Sovereign Specifications
The four gold coins in the 1980 Proof Set all feature Benedetto Pistrucci’s Saint George and the Dragon reverse. The Sovereigns included in the set are:
- 1980 Gold Proof Quintuple Sovereign or Five Pound piece, weighing in at 39.94 grams of 22 carat gold, equating to an actual gold weight of 1.1771 troy ounces
- 1980 Gold Proof Double Sovereign or Two Pound coin: 15.98 grams of 22 carat gold (0.4708 troy ounces)
- 1980 Gold Proof Full Sovereign: 7.98 grams and 0.2354 troy ounces of 22 carat gold - also available individually
- 1980 Gold Proof Half Sovereign: 3.99 grams and 0.1177 troy ounces
Later proof Sovereign sets feature a Quarter Sovereign too but these small gold coins weren’t introduced until 2009.
A Collectible Gold Proof Set
Only 10,000 of these 1980 Four Coin Sets were issued by The Royal Mint. Inevitably, some of these will have been broken up so its nice to see a complete set in great condition. The status of this product as the first of the modern proof sets has made them particularly desirable.
This 1980 Proof Sovereign set comes in its original packaging from The Royal Mint. This consists of an attractive green leather case with it original certificate. All four gold coins remain in their capsules as issued.
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