Old Sovereigns

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 16 Feb 2018

Last Updated: 6 Nov 2018


Old Sovereigns - In 1957, the Bank of England started once again to issue gold sovereigns. To distinguish between the previous issues, which would in many cases seen circulation, and the new, mint condition coins, all the earlier sovereigns were termed by dealers as "old" sovereigns, as distinct from "new" sovereigns.


The sovereigns of Edward VII and George V were known as king sovereigns or "Kings", while those of Queen Victoria were sometimes called "Victorias", "Vics" or Vickies".


Obverse of Edward VII Sovereign


Obverse of George V Sovereign 


Victorian sovereigns actually divide up into three different heads, and two different reverse types, making four major types in all. These are:-

  • Young Head - Shield Reverse. These were known as "Shields".
  • Young Head - St. George & Dragon Reverse. These were usually just called "Young Heads"
  • Jubilee Head - St. George & Dragon Reverse. Usually called "Jubilees".
  • Old Head - St. George & Dragon Reverse. Called "Old Heads".


Obverse of 1871 Victoria Young Head Shield Sovereign


Obverse of 1888 Victoria Jubilee Head Sovereign 


Obverse of Victoria Old Head Sovereign 



1872 Young Head Shield Reverse


1885 Young Head St. George Reverse


The above terms may not have been in common use by the majority of the population, but were the jargon used by bullion dealers including international banks, and also by collectors.


The fine gold content of a sovereign is 0.2354 troy ounces.

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