2003 Proof Gold Sovereign
The Sovereign is one of the most easily recognisable coins in Britain. This 2003 gold Proof Sovereign hosts the classic reverse design by Benedetto Pistrucci, in which St George slays the dragon on horseback. The obverse features the 4th Portrait of HM The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley. Just 15,000 of these individually boxed 2003 Sovereign coins were minted.
The 2003 Gold Proof Sovereign Coin
The obverse (heads) presents the 4th Portrait of HM The Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley. The 4rd 'couped' Portrait by Rank-Broadley shows a close-up of Elizabeth II, which is more realistic than flattering. The portrait appears as large as possible to ensure it stands out on new and smaller circulating coins like the 50p, 10p and 5p.
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 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 shortened inscription, 'DEI GRA REGINA FID DEF', which translates to 'By the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith'. The phase 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 Sovereign is considered by many to be the flagship of The Royal Mint and a symbol of the majesty and dignity of The Crown. 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. Since the minting of the modern Sovereign began in 1957, over 80 million gold Bullion and Proof Sovereigns have been struck.
However esteemed, the Sovereign fell to the plight of the First World War. It ceased being in circulation 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. It is unlikely that there is anyone alive today who can remember carrying Sovereigns in a silver purse, ringing them in at shop counters, and weighing the coins with pocket scales.
Buy a 2003 Gold Sovereign
This pre-owned 2003 gold Proof Sovereign is struck in 22 carat gold, weighs 7.98g 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 2003
Beyond the walls of The Royal Mint, 2003 witnessed; the Concorde make its final passenger flight after 27 years, the end of soap Brookside, and England win the Rugby World Cup in Australia. 2003 was also a year of conflict with; the beginning of the Iraq War, the toppling of leader Saddam Hussein's statue, and world leaders Vladimir Putin, George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair talked of 'weapons of mass destruction'. Meanwhile, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones was granted a knighthood, and Rowan Williams was enthroned as the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury. 2003 was a poignant year in history, now immortalised in coinage.
The Legend of St George and the Dragon
A classic tale of 'good vs evil' in a legend dating back to third century Britain. The story of 'St George the Dragon Slayer' draws on the anecdote of a Roman soldier who refused to give up his Christian faith. By the 13th century, St George was being portrayed with the red cross of the crusader. The most well-known tale sees St George as a heroic rescuer on horseback sent to rescue a young maiden 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 away from The Britannia Coin Company's Royal Wootton Bassett premises.
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