1989 3-Coin Sovereign Proof Set: 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign
This limited edition presentation, featuring the Double Sovereign, Sovereign and Half Sovereign from the celebrated 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign collection is a rare opportunity to collect this sought after Royal Mint design. Here's what you need to know about the 1989 3-Coin Sovereign Proof Set.
Five Hundred Years of Gold Sovereigns
The very first gold sovereigns were struck in 1489, during the reign of Henry VII: the first King of the Tudor dynasty. These early English sovereigns were much larger than those issued today but their prestigious legacy meant the name was reclaimed when the modern coin 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. It is this storied history that the Royal Mint celebrates in its commemorative sovereigns, none more so than the 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign collection.
Tudor-Inspired Designs by Bernard Sindall
All three coins in the 1989 3-Coin Sovereign Proof Set feature reverse and obverse designs by British artist, Bernard Sindall. He is remembered for his charming depictions of native animals for the Rhodesia and Nyasaland halfpenny and penny, as well as for the 1957 Ceylon five rupees coin.
For the 1989 500th Anniversary Gold Sovereign, Sindall was inspired by the earliest hammered sovereigns. Surviving examples feature a complex design, filled with symbols of royalty and imagery associated with the Tudor monarchs, most prominently the instantly recognisable Tudor Rose.
A One-Off Seated Portrait of Elizabeth II
The obverse of those first sovereigns featured a seated portrait of Henry VII. Coins from the 1989 500th Anniversary Gold Sovereign set displays a similar image of Elizabeth II, facing forward from King Edward’s Coronation Chair and holding the Sovereign's Sceptre and Rod of Equity and Mercy.
The 1989 sovereign was the first time that the Queen was shown seated on her coinage and marked a rare departure from the use of the current definitive portrait for collector’s issues. The inscription that circles the portrait in ornate gothic lettering reads: 'ELIZABETH · II · DEI · GRA · REG · FID · DEF'.
A Royal Reverse
Unlike most modern sovereigns, the reverse of the 1989 500th Anniversary Gold Sovereign does not feature Benedetto Pistrucci’s St George and the Dragon design. Instead, the coins feature the shield of the British Royal Arms, ensigned by an open King’s Crown, set upon the double Tudor Rose.
The reverse inscription is also notable. Reading 'ANNIVERSARY · OF · THE · GOLD · SOVEREIGN · 1489 · 1989', this is the first and only time that ‘sovereign’ has appeared on a British coin though foreign mints sometimes used the word. Ordinarily, Royal Mint sovereigns do not bear their denomination.
Double Sovereign, Sovereign and Half Sovereign
The 1989 3-Coin Sovereign Proof Set includes a Half Sovereign (or Half Pound), a full Sovereign and a Double Sovereign, also known as a Two Pound piece. The coins all show the same 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign pattern and are composed of 22 Carat Gold, equal to a fineness of 916.7.
Denomination, Diameter, Weight and Composition
- Double Sovereign 28.40 millimetres 15.98 grams 22 Carat Gold
- Sovereign 22.05 millimetres 7.98 grams 22 Carat Gold
- Half Sovereign 19.30 millimetres 3.99 grams 22 Carat Gold
All three coins in this set are presented in proof finish: the highest available quality. This means you can appreciate Sindall’s intricate designs in their full glory. These 500th Anniversary gold sovereigns are presented in their original leatherette case with their numbered Certificate of Authenticity
Royal Mint Commemorative Sovereigns
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 sovereign annually in both bullion and proof finishes. Fresh designs are eagerly anticipated and older editions are becoming more valuable, notably the 1989 Sovereign.
Gold sovereigns, including the Half Sovereign and Double Sovereign included in this three coin set are legal tender in the UK. This means that sovereigns in the 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign collection are both VAT and Capital Gains Tax free: an added benefit for investors.
Sought After 1989 Gold Proof Sovereigns
While Bernard Sindall was not the most prolific coin engraver, his 1989 Sovereign is among the most sought after of the Royal Mint’s recent sovereign releases. This can be attributed to the unusual design choices for both obverse and reverse, dies for which were only ever used on the 1989 coin.
Only 7,936 sets were issued in this limited edition presentation, meaning that the 1989 3-Coin Sovereign Proof Set has become hard to find. However, we are pleased to offer a three coin 500th Anniversary of the Gold Sovereign set as well as a 1989 4-Coin Sovereign Proof Set for purchase.
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