Gold Gives Way to Paper

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 16 Feb 2018

Last Updated: 1 Feb 2020

Synopsis 

The First British Paper Money - Although the first "banknote", actually a goldsmith's note, known to exist was issued by Laurence Hoare in 1633, and the earliest known cheque was issued in 1659. Paper money did not supersede metal until the second decade of the 20th century.

Victoria old head sovereigns Sir Thomas Brock

Royal Mint Stops Gold Sovereign Production

During the first world war, Britain needed gold bullion to finance the war effort. Banknotes were introduced into regular circulation, and within a few years, the gold sovereign ceased to be used in everyday transactions. Production at the Royal Mint stopped in 1917, although some were minted again in 1925.

Commonwealth Mints

The branch mints continued to produce sovereigns, Ottawa in Canada until 1919, Bombay in India in 1918, Sydney Australia until 1926, Melbourne and Perth Australia until 1931, and Pretoria South Africa until 1932.

Special Occasions

No further sovereigns were then issued for circulation until 1957, although sovereigns were included in the George VI proof set of 1937 which was available for collectors, and sovereigns were also minted but not issued for Edward VIII in 1937, and for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

1916 gold full sovereign st george and the dragon benedetto pistrucci

1916 London Mint Sovereign

One of the Last London Mint Sovereigns to be Issued for Circulation

Further Reading

If you would like to know more about historic pieces of coinage we recommend the following:

Gold Outlook and Price Review 2020

A Brief History of Coinage in Britain

St George on Coins

Benedetto Pistrucci Engraver Of St. George And The Dragon

The Modern Sovereign: From 1817

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