Old name, new money – The Sovereign returns

The guinea was the major coin of the eighteenth century, but during the long war with France the banks began to issue notes in place of coins.

The issuing of bank notes helped Britain to pay for its long war, but it caused inflation and national insecurity and a spate of forgeries took hold. You can view many of the old records of cases brought at the time on The Old Bailey website.

Following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815 the decision was taken to undertake a ‘great reform of the coinage’. Gold was adopted as the ‘sole Standard Measure of Value’ and bank notes were taken out of use.
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The first sovereign – a coin designed to impress

In a new weekly series of articles focused on bringing The Royal Mint’s history to life, we focus on our flagship coin, the sovereign.

The original sovereign was struck on the 28 October 1489 by The Royal Mint in the Tower of London.

The Sovereign of 1489

The Sovereign of 1489

Henry VII ordered the striking of the largest gold coin yet issued in England. The King wished to issue them as gifts to foreign dignitaries to impress upon them the strength of the Tudor dynasty.

He would have had no idea that the coin he issued would, in time, become renowned around the world.
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