1981 Proof Gold Sovereign
The 1981 gold Proof Sovereign hosts the famed reverse design by Benedetto Pistrucci, in which St George slays the dragon on horseback. The obverse features the 2nd Portrait of HM The Queen by Arnold Machin RA. Just 50,000 of these 1981 Sovereign coins were minted.
Released for the year 1981, these coins are ideal for marking the year of a special occasion such as a 40th birthday.
The 1981 Gold Proof Sovereign Coin
The obverse (heads) presents the 2nd portrait by Arnold Machin RA of HM The Queen. An updated version of this same portrait has also appeared on British stamps since 1967. The 2nd Portrait by Machin replaced the original Elizabeth II portrayal by Mary Gillick, to help new British decimal currency stand out when it was released in 1968.
The reverse (tails) of the Sovereign hosts the signature 1817 'St George and the Dragon' design by Benedetto Pistrucci. In the 1800s, Italian engraver Pistrucci was instructed to create designs for George III's silver and gold coins by William Wellesley-Pole, 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 coin includes the inscription, 'DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF', which translates to 'By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith'. The inscription 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 History of the Sovereign
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, it traditionally featured a heraldic reverse. This was later abandoned in favour of a 'St George and the dragon' design by Benedetto Pistrucci. The Sovereign ceased being in circulation during the First World War, 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.
Buy a 1981 Gold Sovereign
This pre-owned 1981 gold Proof Sovereign is struck in 22 carat gold, weighs 7.988g and contains 7.32g of fine gold. Today, the Sovereign is considered to be one of the world's oldest coins still in production and a pinnacle of minting excellence.
The year 1981
The year 1981 witnessed; the engagement and marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, the beginnings of the Rupert Murdock empire with his purchase of The Times, the first London marathon, riots in Brixton and across the UK, Arthur Scargill elected as leader of the National Union of Mineworkers, and 105 tornadoes hitting Britain in a single night. In entertainment we witnessed; Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Cats' open on the West End, Bucks Fizz winning Eurovision with 'Making Your Mind Up', the first Indiana Jones film 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and the launch of MTV in the USA. 1981 was a remarkable year in history, now immortalised in coinage.
The Legend of St George and the Dragon
Dating back to the reign of William of Malmesbury, during the third century, inspiration for the 'St George and the dragon' story was drawn from a Roman soldier who refused to give up his Christian faith. There are many fabled stories associated with St George, the majority of which honour him as a brave hero with English ideals and a symbol of Christianity. The most well-known tale sees St George as a heroic rescuer on horseback sent to rescue a young maiden or princess 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 from our Royal Wootton Bassett premises.
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