St George has been the patron saint of England since medieval times, and it was towards the end of that period, in 1489, that Henry VII instructed The Royal Mint to produce ‘a new money of gold’ – the original Sovereign.
It wasn’t until 1817 that the classical image of St George and the dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci first appeared on Sovereign coins. The distinctive St George design was used on a new 22-carat gold coin valued at 20 shillings, or one pound, which was given the name Sovereign.
St George’s appearance on the Sovereign was not continuous: it was interrupted in 1825, when his image was replaced by more conventional heraldic designs, but St George returned once more to the coin in 1871. This principal gold coin went on to become recognised and traded as currency across the globe, referred to as “the chief coin in the world”. More than 100 million gold Sovereigns were estimated to be in circulation by the end of the 19th century.
When St George met his end on 23 April 303 AD at the hands of the pagan Emperor Diocletian, he could not have imagined that almost 1,700 years later, he would not only be the patron saint of England, but also the iconic figure who has appeared on the Sovereign for over 200 years.
To honour St George and his depiction on our flagship coin, we’ve selected some of our favourite Sovereign products to celebrate this St George’s Day:
The classic Sovereign is an essential for any coin collection. Year-dated for 2019, it is perfect to mark and remember a special event this year. Our 2019 Sovereign is struck in 22-carat gold and finished to Proof standard.
These unique and stylish Half Sovereign Cufflinks are set with two Gold Half Sovereign coins and feature the exclusive Royal Mint Tower hallmark; a symbol of true quality. The elegant, contemporary design puts a modern twist on a traditional accessory that dates back centuries.
The Sovereign has been struck to a Brilliant Uncirculated standard with a Matt finish for the very first time and is available in a range of gifting options. The Sovereign BU is the ideal way to gift a beautiful coin with a rich heritage, and pass on your passion for collecting coins by gifting the Sovereign to family and friends.
This particular sovereign comes in a very special ‘On This Date and Always’ packaging, featuring a ‘Happy Birthday’ gift card that you can personalise with your own message. Also available in Congratulations, Happy Anniversary and New Baby, the Sovereign BU is the ultimate celebratory gift.
Made from smooth, soft and supple Nappa leather and available in tan or black, the lining of this range of wallets is inspired by Benedetto Pistrucci’s George and The Dragon design, making it the ideal gift to combine beauty, tradition and practicality.
The beauty of a Sovereign is in its ability to transcend generations, with many passing this precious collectable on to the precious people in their lives, and the prestige associated with the coin positions it as an ideal gift to treasure for a lifetime.
To learn more about the history of the sovereign, click here.