This 1853 Queen Victoria young head shield sovereign was minted in London. In 1853, there were two varieties of shield sovereigns, both types are of the second portrait, issued from 1848 to 1872.
This second type gold sovereign is known as the second (large) head portrait and is struck in 22 carat gold. The engraver's initials are incuse in the truncation. This gold coin was issued for circulation coinage with a nominal value of one pound.
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Until we came to show the Michael A Marsh reference numbers in the listings on this page, we had not realised for some reason that Michael Marsh's book "The Gold Sovereign" only makes passing reference to the fact that some sovereigns in this series have the engraver's initials WW on the truncation of Queen Victoria's neck incuse rather than raised. Spink show these as a separate and distinct variety. You can read more about this variation on our Raised and Incuse WW Initials - A Marsh Anomaly page
All shield sovereigns from 1838 to 1852 have raised initials, all first type shields from 1856 to 1863 have incuse (cut-in) initials, while the three dates from 1853 to 1855 occur in both varieties. We cannot think why Michael treated both varieties as the same. He states in both the 1980 and 2002 Golden Jubilee editions "These letters also appear incuse on some coins". Michael quite rightly went into great detail on a number of other coins, such as the 1859 Ansell variety which has an almost unnoticeable double ribbon line. Compared with the Ansell, we believe that the incuse WW initial are important enough to be recognised as a distinct and separate sub-type.
In addition to the variations mentioned above there are also coins with errors. These only appear in the coins with initials in relief; one where the V in VICTORIA has been replaced by an upside down A and one which has been over struck with an F over the E in DEF. A proof coin was also struck in 1853 in the incuse variation. This proof coin in FDC achieves high prices. We did not know about the irregularities between William Wyon's initials until we read about them in "The Gold Sovereign" book by Michael Marsh. Shield sovereigns from 1838 to 1852 have raised initials, all first type shields from 1856 to 1863 have incuse (cut-in) initials, while the three dates from 1853 to 1855 occur in both varieties. We cannot think why Michael treated both varieties as the same. He states in both the 198 and 22 Golden Jubilee editions "These letters also appear incuse on some coins". Michael quite rightly went into great detail on a number of other coins, such as the 1856 Ansell variety which has an almost unnoticeable double ribbon line. Compared with the Ansell, we believe that the incuse WW initial are important enough to be recognised as a distinct and separate sub-type.
I had the pleasure and good fortune to have a lengthy telephone conversation with Michael about 6 months before his death. He expressed an intention to publish an updated version of The Gold Sovereign, incorporating research he had done since the publication of the Golden Jubilee edition, and also some material which, although known at the time of publication, he did not feel he had researched sufficiently for publication. He explained that he had not been in the best of health, and was hoping to be able to continue before too long. During the conversation, I formed an intention to try to find time to visit him to discuss sovereigns, and I offered him the use of one of our photographs for the next edition. Sadly none of this came to pass.
The young head portrait of Queen Victoria on the obverse by William Wyon features the date underneath the portrait with the engraver's initials WW incuse in the truncation.
The second (large) head portrait has a slightly larger head, is not as raised as the first series and the reverse legends are repositioned. The difference between the two variations is the engraver's signature, W.W., which is raised on the first 1853 type, and incuse on the second 1853 type.
The reverse of the 1853 second (large) young head portrait sovereign was designed by engraver, Jean Baptiste Merlen. It features the Ensigns Armorial shield design, with branches of laurel leaves on each side. The laurel branches are tied with ribbons into a bow with an arrangement of a rose, a shamrock and a thistle below with small flower stops on each side. The legend on the reverse of the second (large) young head portrait has been repositioned.
|Alloy||22 carat gold|
|Actual Gold Weight||0.2354 Troy oz|
|Obverse Designer||William Wyon|
|Reverse Designer||Jean Baptiste Merlen|
|Mintage||10,597,993 (includes all variations)|
|Marsh Reference||All variations are 34|
|Spink Reference||All variations are 3852C|
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