British Half Sovereigns & Technical Specification

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 25 Jul 2018

Last Updated: 16 Oct 2019

The half sovereign technical specification for all modern half sovereigns issued from 1817 is as follows :

Diameter 19.30 mm
Weight 3.99g
Alloy (Carats) 22
Fineness (millesimal) 916.6
Actual Gold Content (Grams) 3.6575
Actual Gold Content (Troy Ounces) 0.1177

1544 or 1817?

Although the sovereign was first hammerred in 1489 for Henry VII, half sovereigns were not produced until the reign of Henry VIII in 1544. The history of sovereigns and half sovereigns then follows a similar course. The modern half sovereign commenced in 1817 under George III.

A Real Coin

Both the sovereign and half sovereign were real circulating coins until the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. At about this time, most countries in the world reduced or stopped production of gold coins for circulation and switched to a "token" coinage.

Out of Production

By 1933, almost every country had stopped gold coin production, and it did not restart until about 1960. Even now, there are no countries where any gold coins regularly circulate as part of the coinage system. The last half sovereign to be issued for circulation was in 1926

Half Sovereign Production Restarted

The production of sovereigns, as bullion coins, restarted in 1957, and in 1982, ordinary bullion half sovereigns were produced after a break of 56 years.

Proofs

From 1980, the Royal Mint started to produce special edition proof versions for collectors, and these are now likely to be produced every year.

2000 & The Third Millennium

After a break of 18 years since 1982, the Royal Mint has again started production of "ordinary" sovereigns in 2000, and it is possible that they too will be produced in following years. 

Sovereign and Quarter Sovereign Technical Specifications 

The quarter sovereign technical specification differs only slightly from the full sovereign technical specification and the quarter sovereign technical specification as detailed below:

Full Sovereign Technical Specification

Diameter 22.05 mm
Weight 7.9881g
Alloy (Carats) 22 
Fineness (millesimal) 916.6
Actual Gold Content (Grams) 7.3224
Actual Gold Content (Troy Ounces) 0.235421

 Quarter Sovereign Technical Specification

Diameter (Millimeters) 13.50
Weight (Grams) 1.997
Alloy (Carats) 22
Fineness (millesimal) 0.9167
Actual Gold Content (Grams) 0.0588
Actual Gold Content (Troy Ounces) 0.001890

Gallery 

Gold Half Sovereign Bullion Victoria Jubilee Shields - Obverse

Gold Half Sovereign Bullion Victoria Jubilee Shields - Reverse

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