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2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign Set : 200 Years of the Gold Sovereign

2017 Sovereign
(VAT Exempt)
2017 was a major anniversary year for the Gold Sovereign: It was the 200th anniversary of the minting of the first modern Sovereign back in 1817. The Royal Mint celebrated the occasion by reproducing the Reverse image of the the original 1817 coin onto the reverses of all the coins in the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set.
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The 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set consists of the 2017 Proof Gold £5 (Quintuple-Sovereign), the 2017 Proof Double-Sovereign (gold £2), the 2017 Proof Sovereign, the 2017 Proof Half-Sovereign and the 2017 Proof Quarter-Sovereign. The set contains more than two ounces of pure gold.

Most of the Elizabeth II gold sovereigns have copied the design created by Benedetto Pistrucci over 200 years ago, but there are some interesting variations between the 1817 sovereign and the contemporary designs which we have seen over the last few decades.

The most obvious is that the entire image is depicted inside a Garter. The Garter is associated with The Most Noble Order of the Garter, which is an order of chivalry founded by Edward III in 1348. It is the most senior order of knighthood in the British honours system. The 2017 Gold Sovereign Proof bears the motto of the Order: HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE, which translates to 'Evil be to him that evil thinks'.

The other difference is more subtle. In the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set, just as in the original, St George fights the dragon with a broken spear. On most modern sovereigns St George uses a sword, although you can still see the remains of the broken shaft on the floor. In some versions of the story, a long lance (named Ascalon) is used by St George.

Benedetto Pistrucci (1783-1855) was an Italian engraver who became chief medallist at the Royal Mint. 200 years ago, Pistrucci designed and engraved the St George and the Dragon artwork himself and was paid 100 guineas for his services, equivalent to about £8,000 today.  

The first of the modern sovereigns (dated 1817) carried the head of King George III, which was also engraved by Pistrucci. The obverses of the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set obviously feature Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Note that this new design is only on the 2017 proof sovereign family; the 2017 bullion gold sovereigns used the standard George and the Dragon image.

The Gold Sovereign Family of the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set

The 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set has the complete range of gold sovereign denominations minted in 2017, all carrying the special re-rendering of the St George and the Dragon image on the reverse

The 5-coin set is based around the eponymous 2017 Gold Proof Sovereign. Although its roots date back to 1489 and Henry VII, the first of the modern gold sovereigns appeared in 1817 during the reign of George III and soon established itself as one of the most important coins in the World.

The Half-Sovereign was also introduced a long time ago, back in 1544 during the reign of Henry VIII. However it was discontinued in 1604 (along with full sovereigns) and no more was minted until 1817. Production ended again in 1926 (1933 in Australia) and except for a few special issues during the Coronation years, it was 1980 when we saw half-sovereigns again.

The 2017 Gold Proof Double Sovereign is a gold two pound (£2) coin and it first appeared in 1820 for George III.  Double sovereigns were only made occasionally and not intended for circulation. In 1980 the Royal Mint started minting them yearly due to demand by both collectors and investors.

Double Sovereigns are Gold £2 coins, and they generally look like a larger version of the sovereign of the same year. It's not the same as the gold version of the circulation two pound design which have also become popular in recent years.

The 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set is completed by the magnificent Gold £5 coin. The Gold Five-Pounds is actually the Quintuple Sovereign, and are highly impressive coins. Hold one and feel the weight - it's an amazing experience. Despite the high cost of a gold coin weighing almost 40g they are very popular and very collectable. A gold £5 can be a gold sovereign type or a gold £5 crown; the weights are the same but there is a small difference in diameter. The £5 coin in the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set is of the gold sovereign type.

Description of the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set

The designs of the coins in the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set are common to all coins.

The Obverse (front, heads) of all the coins use the fifth portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark. Her Majesty used the the Royal Diamond crown which she wore for her coronation. The image has been used on gold sovereigns since 2015.

Breaking with the trend of commissioning external artists, Jody Clark became the first Royal Mint employee for over 100 years to design a coinage portrait of a Monarch. Clark (1981-) was also the youngest (at 33) to do so.

The Reverse (back, tails) depicts the original 1817 design of Pistrucci's St George slaying the dragon.

The 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set was originally issued in a Royal Mint case with a numbered Certificate of Authenticity (COA). All coins are legal tender in the UK; you should ask your accountant/financial advisor what Capital Gains Tax advantages you can gain from this.

The Monarch: Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II is the current and longest reigning British monarch ever. Born as Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary of York on 21 April 1926, the first child of George, Duke of York, and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, Duchess of York. Princess Elizabeth's grandfather, King George V, was Monarch.

When George V died in January 1936 it was Elizabeth's uncle who ascended the throne as Edward VIII. Edward famously abdicated in December 1936 and it was left to Elizabeth's Father George to reluctantly become King George VI. This instantly promoted Elizabeth to Heir Presumptive.

On 6 February 1952 she became Queen Elizabeth II in the House of Windsor. Her Coronation was on 2 June 1953.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Which coins are in the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set?
A: The set consists of the 2017 Proof Gold £5 (Quintuple-Sovereign), the 2017 Proof Double-Sovereign (Gold £2), the 2017 Proof Sovereign, the 2017 Proof Half-Sovereign and the 2017 Proof Quarter-Sovereign.

Q: Are your 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set Coins genuine?
A: Yes, and we guarantee it. With high value coins and investments such as the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set, collectors and bullion investors often worry about counterfeits, but actually gold coins are very difficult to forge due to gold's unique properties of density and colour. Gold is extremely dense and to use another metal and gold-plate it would result in a coin that is under-weight, over-diameter or half-again as thick, something that would be spotted very easily by a expert. You can buy from us 100% worry free.

Q: What is the difference between Gold Proof Coins and Gold Bullion Coins?
A: Both coins will carry the same amount of gold.

Proof coins have a mirror-like finish. They are almost hand made, with appreciable care, struck several times to get an outstanding image. Proofs are aimed at numismatists (coin collectors). This extra care incurs considerable additional cost and a proof will cost much more than the gold content of the coin. It will also attract a high re-sale price if you do decide to sell it and there are strong markets for these coins.

Bullion coins are primarily for gold investment. They may have the same image as the proof, but the coin is made by machine, and only struck once using production dies. The coin is not so visually appealing as a proof and may have scuffs and scratches from the manufacturing process. But if you're just looking for gold, then this is the cheapest way to buy.

Q: Does the Limited Mintage of the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set matter?
A: This can affect the future value of your sovereign set as it increases the scarcity of the sets, and it can make a big difference. The 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set was only minted in 2017, none have been made since and no new ones will ever be made again. Once the Royal Mint has sold out, the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set can only be obtained from the free market where rarity usually has a premium price. On the other hand, more collectors generally enter the market over time. It is basic Supply and Demand. Scarce sets can appreciate in price considerably over a period of time and can make very good investments.

Q: Why is the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set 91.67% gold and not pure gold?
A. In the past, gold coins have been the normal circulation coins. Pure gold would wear very quickly and so the mints would add another metal, usually copper, in the ratio 11/12ths gold and 1/12th copper. This alloy is 22 carat or 91.67% gold and is considerably harder and more durable than 24 carat gold. As Gold coins are no longer intended for circulation, this is no longer a requirement. Pure Gold is actually quite soft, so you should handle the coins carefully as they can easily scratch and dent. Probably best to leave the coin in a protective capsule.

Q: Why are the coins in the 2017 Gold Proof 5-coin Sovereign set such a strange weight?
A: Nowadays, 0.2354 troy ounce or 7.9881g may not make much sense, but it did once. In 1816 there was the "Great Recoinage". The main gold one-pound coin was changed from the gold Guinea (which was actually no longer valued at one pound) to the new 'Gold Sovereign'. At that time standard (22 carat) gold was fixed at £46 14s 6d per troy pound, so a little maths meant a £1 coin needed to weigh 123.2744783 grains or 7.988030269g. The weight was the same for the 2017 Gold Sovereign, and will almost certainly be the same on future gold sovereigns.


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