1981 Proof Gold Sovereign
We offer to you the 1981 Full Gold Proof Sovereign. A wonderful collector's piece, The Britannia Coin Company looks at all the elements needed to help you make your decision.
The Second Royal Portrait
The engraver behind the second portrait of Elizabeth II seen on the obverse of the 1981 Proof Gold Sovereign is Arnold Machin. Machin designed the first portrait of Her Majesty used on decimal coinage. His portrait did not come into use on British coins until 1968, although it had been approved by The Queen in June 1964. As with the Gillick portrait previously, Machin avoided cutting the portrait off at the neck and instead included the top of the dress. The diamond 'The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland' tiara - gifted to Queen Elizabeth II for her wedding by her grandmother, Queen Mary - replaced the wreath of her first portrait.
On the obverse of the coin, around the portrait inscription reads ‘ELIZABETH II DEI ∙ GRA ∙ REGINA ∙ FID ∙ DEF∙'. Translated from Latin, this phrase means ‘By The Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith'. This phrase acknowledges the Queen's position as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. She has held this role since her coronation in 1952, and a similar inscription has appeared on her official and commemorative currency since.
History of the Gold Sovereign
The Gold Sovereign has a history that spans back over 500 years. Although the original Sovereign dates to the reign of Henry VII in 1489, the Sovereign was retired and reintroduced in the Nineteenth Century into the specification that we recognise today. After the gruelling Napoleonic Wars, the currency situation in Britain culminated in the Great Recoinage of 1816. In 1817, the Sovereign was reborn during the reign of George III. The first modern gold sovereign was minted at The Royal Mints' new premises in Tower Hill with their newly acquired steam powered coin press, revolutionising coin production.
The Sovereign is an instantly recognisable coin for collectors everywhere. It is considered to be one of the most trusted bullion coins in existence, meaning they have a highly sought after status and are relied upon by investors around the world. This history of Empire and heritage means that the Sovereigns still issued by The Royal Mint annually hold the attention of collectors today.
Struck to Glorious Proof Standard
Proof coins are the highest quality commemorative coins produced. They represent true skill and expertise, making coins like the 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign truly exceptional examples for collectors everywhere.
The dies that are used to strike Proof coins are hand finished to ensure perfection. The blanks are fed into the press by hand, before being struck up to six times. Working at a lower speed, and with less pressure than other finishes, this preserves the finer details of the designs. Each Proof die may only strike a few hundred coins before it has to be re-polished. This means that the Royal Mint can only strike about 50 Proof coins per hour. This is an exponentially slower rate of production than that maintained for circulating coins.
Due to the more laborious processes involved, Proof coins are usually issued in limited numbers and the 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign is no exception. Only 32,960 were minted in this year. Although this number is high in comparison to modern mintage rates, it is much lower than the 5 million Brilliant Uncirculated Bullion that were minted in the same year.
Saint George and the Dragon
After the Napoleonic Wars ended, Britain was in need of an overhaul of its currency. This brought about the Great Recoinage of 1816. It was from this that the Sovereign was reintroduced into British currency, and this required a new design to fill the reverse of the coin. The design chosen is still featured to the present day, appearing on the 1981 Proof Gold Sovereign over 200 years later. The design chosen was the Saint George and the Dragon engraving by Benedetto Pistrucci, by far his most celebrated work. This was a welcome change to previous designs. It in turn both acknowledged and respected both the patron saint of Britain, and the current monarch on the throne, George III, who had just achieved great victory at the Battle of Waterloo over the French.
7.98 Grams of 22 Carat Gold
Since their reintroduction in 1817, each Gold Sovereign has been minted to exactly the same specification. The 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign is no exception to this rule.
Firstly, each Gold Sovereign has a diameter of 22.00 millimetres and a thickness of 1.52 millimetres.
Weighing at 7.32 grams or 0.2354 troy ounces of pure gold, the 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign is 22 Carat Gold. This is the equivalent to a purity of 91.6% or a fineness of .917.
The remaining weight in a Full Gold Sovereign is mostly copper, which also lends the Sovereign their characteristic reddish tone.
Collecting and Investing in Sovereigns
Now 40 years since this coin was minted, fewer and fewer 1981 Gold Proof Sovereigns are coming to the market. If you are working to complete a Proof Sovereign collection then it's important to acquire these dates when they become available.
As well as appealing to collectors of commemorative coins, Proof Sovereigns like the 1981 issue are an excellent way to diversify your investment portfolio for several reasons:
- The 22 Carat Gold composition of Gold Sovereigns offers the intrinsic security of precious metal as a way of storing wealth
- Their relatively low weight of 7.98 grams means that prices for Sovereigns are accessible and small portions of your collection can be liquidated much easier than gold bars
- The numismatic value and aesthetic beauty of coins like the 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign can give them a value above the gold price on the collector's market
- As they are composed of investment grade gold, 1981 Gold Proof Sovereigns are exempt from VAT in the UK and the European Union
- An additional tax benefit: Gold Sovereigns are technically legal tender in the UK, making them exempt from Capital Gains Tax.
Here at The Britannia Coin Company we can't recommend the 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign enough. Secure yours today and get free insured delivery on your order. Any questions? Call or email today and our expert staff will be pleased to assist.
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