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.
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
VICTORIA DEI GRATIA
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
BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID: DEF:
completing the monarch's legend, which begins on the obverse.
|Weight / Size||Full|
|Gold Weight Troy Ounces||0.235|
|Fineness / Carat||0.917 / 22|
|Obverse Designer||William Wyon|
|Reverse Designer||Jean Baptiste Merlen|
|Issuing Monarch||Victoria (1837-1901)|
|Mint / Brand||The Royal Mint|
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