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  • 1838 Gold Full Sovereign Victoria Young Head Obverse By William Wyon
  • 1838 Gold Full Sovereign Victoria First Shield Reverse Jean Baptiste Merlen
  • 1838 Gold Full Sovereign Victoria Young Head Obverse By William Wyon
  • 1838 Gold Full Sovereign Victoria First Shield Reverse Jean Baptiste Merlen
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1838 Gold Full Sovereign Victoria Young Head London Mint

The 1838 gold sovereign was the first of Queen Victoria's reign, although we have seen something about the existence of an extremely rare 1837 pattern.

There is another (even rarer) design that was issued this year. It is very similar but the leaves of the laurel branches are arranged slightly differently. The tops of the branches come closer to the crown that tops the shield. A coin with this design on the reverse could be worth £6000.

See the rest of the 1838 Sovereign Collection.


(VAT Exempt)
Totals are approximate until metal prices are confirmed on the next LBMA fix.

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Hammered gold coins called 'sovereigns' had been minted on and off between 1489-1604, whereupon James I (VI) changed the name of the 20/- gold piece to a 'Unite'. The reform coinage sovereign of 1817 onwards was issued as a normal circulation type coin, and also as a proof. 

There are two specimens of this sovereign in the Smithsonian Institution, and they are two of the coins which Smithson received from the British Government, and with which he endowed the Washington DC Institution which bears his name. According to the website, most of the coins shipped to the USA were promptly melted down and reminted into US coins, probably double eagles. This will go some way to explaining why this date is scarcer than its mintage figures would lead one to expect. However, similar considerations probably apply to most early dated sovereigns, many will have been melted and recycled, leaving only a relatively small proportion of the original mintage still extant.


The obverse features the first and smallest young head portrait of Queen Victoria facing left and wearing a double ribbon in her hair.

The inscription reads


and the date (1838) appears below the portrait. young head portrait of Queen Victoria


The reverse shows a new crowned first shield design, including a branch of laurel at either side of the shield tied together at the bottom with a ribbon.  

Beneath this, the reverse displays the thistle, rose and shamrock (symbols of Scotland, England and Ireland) with a small flower stop on each side.

The inscription reads


completing the monarch's legend, which begins on the obverse.


Weight / SizeFull
Gold Weight Troy Ounces0.235
Fineness / Carat0.917 / 22
Mintage Figure2,718,694
Spink Reference3,852
Obverse DesignerWilliam Wyon
Reverse DesignerJean Baptiste Merlen
Issuing Monarch Victoria (1837-1901)
Mint / BrandThe Royal Mint
CountryUnited Kingdom
Terms & Delivery

Terms of Sale - Key Points

You can find more information on payment and identification requirements.

Bullion coins are provided as is and on occasion may have some minor scratches or edge knocks. These are not regarded as faulty or damaged goods as their precious metal content and value as a bullion coin is not affected. Any coin sold for a value less than a 180% intrinsic is considered a bullion coin.

Gold investment products are VAT free. Silver investment products are inclusive of VAT at the current rate unless otherwise stated.

All investment products are based on the live precious metal price. Prices will be fixed once the item has been added to the basket and recalculates just before checking out. 

If your product is not a graded coin and is considered a bullion item it should be noted that these are bought and sold on low premiums over their precious metal content and not solely for aesthetic purposes, therefore some products may have edge knocks and/or marks. These edge knocks and marks do not alter the specifications of the coins.

Please note that all investment products are exempt from the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and therefore customers do not have the right to cancel their order once the order has been accepted. If customers no longer wish to go ahead with their investment purchase, there is an option to sell the products back to Chard (1964) Ltd instead. View our current buy back prices.

View our full Terms & Conditions.

Delivery Information

We aim to dispatch orders within 48 hours of receiving cleared funds. Our standard delivery methods are as follows

Orders over £60 - Fully Insured Delivery.

  • Within the UK and BFPO - Next day fully insured and tracked. Delivery starts from £6. 
  • International - Royal Mail International Signed / Royal Mail International Tracked / Royal Mail International Tracked and Signed For. Items sent via this method will normally arrive between 3-7 working days. Delivery starts from £15.

Orders under £60

  • Within the UK and BFPO - Royal Mail 2nd Class. Your order will normally arrive within 2-3 working days. Delivery starts from £3.50.
  • International - Royal Mail International Standard. Your order will normally arrive between 3-7 working days. Delivery starts from £6.

If you wish to have your order sent by an alternative method (e.g., Saturday Guaranteed) please contact +441253343081 for more information. Please note, we will not dispatch high value orders over a bank holiday weekend.

For international delivery, please check with your local customs office for more information on custom duty and taxes.

Full delivery information can be found by clicking here

Postal Insurance

We offer fully insured delivery on all special delivery options. We do need to pass on the cost of this insurance as it soon adds up shipping high value gold and silver products. 

  • Orders < £1500 there is no additional fee
  • Orders > £1500 we charge a fee in order to cover the increasing costs of insurance. For every £1500 we apply a £1 fee. 

If you require any assistance please do not hesitate to call the showroom on +441253343081 and one of our team can discuss your purchase. 

Related Blogs

If you would like to read more about some of the finest pieces that numismatics has to offer, then we recommend the following: 

Heads - Portraits on the Obverse of British Sovereigns 

1957 Gold Sovereign Production Restarted 

The Modern Sovereign: From 1817 

Unites, Laurels and Guineas: 1604 - 1662

Gold Gives Way to Paper