2005 Gold Sovereigns
During 2004, we wondered whether the 2005 sovereigns would have the familiar St. George and Dragon design, or a special single year one-off design.
New Old Design
In 1989 and again in 2002, the Royal Mint issued gold sovereigns with a different design, in each case for one single year only. These appear to have proved popular. The 1989 was available as a proof only, indeed no ordinary uncirculated sovereigns were issued from 1983 to 1999. Although from memory it only sold normally when it was first issued, it has seen increasing demand from the growing numbers of sovereign collectors. As the supply is limited, the prices of these sovereigns have been increasing, they now change hands at about double the original issue price.
The 2002 sovereigns for the Golden Jubilee were of a shield design, reflecting the similar device used in the early period of Victoria's reign from 1838 to 1871. Once again these were popular, time will tell whether they reach the price levels of the 1989's.
Updated St. George
We discovered in October 2004, that the new 2005 design will be a re-worked and stylised version of the traditional St George & Dragon design which has been used on sovereigns, with a few breaks, since 1817. The silver crown issued in 1935 for the Silver Jubilee of George V featured a stylised deco version of St. George and the dragon, which is sometimes called the "rocking horse crown". Although we were not around when it was issued, we can guess that it was not universally popular when it was issued, and opinion is still divided about its artistic and aesthetic merits. The Isle of Man also produce sovereigns with a St. George and dragon design, or a Viking and dragon, these seem to be popular.
We can predict that the new design will divide opinion, as do all new designs. We tend to be quite positive and receptive to new ideas and designs, and expect to like the new design when we see it. We also believe that the introduction of new ideas and designs is good as it stimulates discussion and interest in collecting coins in general. The traditionalists will no doubt prefer the existing St George design, others will prefer the new design. It is just possible that the combination of old and new will unite these factions, but it is more likely to create and deepen divisions.
One comment we heard was that the new design looked like Lord Farquar from the movie Shrek, not having seen the film, we could not possibly comment.
This article was written shortly before the coin was originally released. We recently pondered why this coin was designed with a different reverse. Unlike the 1989 and 2002 issues, the 2005 design was not issued to commemorate an anniversary or event of any kind. Although we haven't uncovered any information as to why this new design was implemented, we are speculating that the Royal Mint, in common with many of its other regular issues, intended to feature a different reverse design for every year in an attempt to increase collector interest. However, the following year saw a reversion to the original St George design. The low quality finish apparent on many of the 2006 issues almost seems to suggest that the decision to discontinue the policy of changing the reverse design every year was a last minute decision by the Royal Mint and that they didn't have time to fix the dies properly (although this is only speculation on our part).