George V Obverse Design Comparison

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 28 Feb 2018

Last Updated: 24 Mar 2020


Below we discuss differences in the obverse designs of first and second type George V gold sovereigns.

1918 george V sovereign Obverse Bullion Sovereigns
George V Sovereign Large Head Portrait

Obverse of First Type George V Sovereign

There are two types of George V gold sovereigns. The first type was issued from 1911 to 1928 inclusive. In common with all early George V coins, they featured a large sized portrait. This appears to have provided constant problems for the Royal Mint. A simple explanation of this problem was the amount of metal displaced in striking. The more metal displaced, the greater the stress on the dies, and the shorter their working life. On the minor coins, the Mint made numerous changes, especially between 1925 and 1927, and most denominations went through three different obverse designs. The sovereign only underwent one change, between 1928 and 1929.The two types are generally referred to as the first, large, portrait, and the second, smaller portrait. We have deliberately chosen two coins from the same mint, in this case Pretoria in South Africa, and of contiguous dates, 1928 and 1929, and have selected coins in the best condition available.

Obverse of Second Type George V Sovereign

The easiest and most obvious difference is the wider and more distinct border on the second type, with the addition of an inner circle. The whole portrait is also smaller, although many people cannot perceive this instantly. The portrait has also been completely recut, and the engraving lines forming the hair and moustache are deeper, some may say coarser. The engraver's initials B.M. are repositioned further to the right.

George V Gold Full Sovereign Coin

More Information

Compare George V Reverse Types

George V Sovereigns - Date and Mintmark Table

George V Sovereigns For Sale

Further Reading

If you would like to know more about the gold sovereign coin and perhaps some of numismatics most influencila figures and moments we recomend the following:

The Story of the Sovereign 

The 2020 Sovereign 

Buying Gold from The Royal Mint Could Change  

Jody Clark Engraver of Queen Elizabeth Fifth Portrait 

Expensive Novelty Coin Gifts and Marketing Trickery

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