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Analysis of Alloy Content of Modern Gold Sovereigns

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 26 Feb 2018

Last Updated: 23 Jun 2021

Synopsis

Most people know that the gold content of a full sovereign coin is 22ct. Expressed as a percentage, this would be 91.66%, millesimally it is 916.6; sometimes shown rounded to 917. What most people, including experienced dealers, cannot tell you is the composition of the balance.

2020 gold full sovereign st george and the dragon benedetto pistrucci

Niton XRF Test Results

We used our Niton XRF machine to analyse the alloy content of a number of British Gold Sovereigns. The table below shows coins from a representative selection of dates and mints. Even though XRF machines are quite expensive, they do not give precise results, and are subject to tolerances and small levels of error. See for example our Substandard Krugerrand blog.

Alloy Analysis

We have not included a note of the tolerances (error limits), but the maximum value was 0.003%, applicable to a few of the gold figures. The smaller values have lower tolerances.

Date Mint Country Coin Type     Gold Copper Silver Iron Tin Other
1817 London U.K. Sovereign George III 912 40 45 2 0 0
1861 Sydney Australia Sovereign - 916 27 56 0 1 0
1871 London U.K. Sovereign Young Head St. George 915 76 8 0 0 0
1871 Sydney U.K. Sovereign Young Head St. George 919 76 5 0 0 0
1873 Melbourne U.K. Sovereign Young Head St. George 918 77 5 0 0 0
1887 Melbourne U.K. Sovereign Young Head St. George 914 75 6 0 0 0
1890 London U.K. Sovereign Jubilee Head St. George 919 75 7 0 0 0
1900 London U.K. Sovereign Old Head St. George 915 80 5 0 0 0
1932 South Africa U.K. Sovereign George V Small Head St. George 914 82 4 0 0 0
1957 London U.K. Sovereign First QEII 917 83 0 0 0 0
1974 London U.K. Sovereign QEII Machin 916 84 1 0 0 0
1988 London U.K. Proof Sovereign QEII Maklouf 920 80 1 0 0 0
2014 R.M. U.K. Sovereign QEII Rank-Broadley 918 82 0 0 0 0
2021 R.M. U.K. Sovereign Latest 916 84 0 0 0 0

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