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We Pay £200 For Round Pounds

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 23 Oct 2017

Last Updated: 8 May 2018

We'll Buy One Pound Coins for £200!

Actually, we will pay £224.85* today for any one pound coins with the St George and the Dragon reverse! Possibly even more depending on their grade and rarity. Of course this price does fluctuate according to the live gold price.

You have probably guessed that we are talking about the original one pound coin – the modern sovereign. As numismatists, we find it frustrating when the media talk about pound coins in an all-encompassing term.


Britain's First Round Pound - the Sovereign, and Britain's Modern Round Pound

The round pound which has recently ceased to be legal tender was introduced in 1983 is the modern one pound coin. This £1 coin replaced the one pound banknote which had become expensive to produce. The modern round pound was cheap to manufacture and was durable – indeed, some 1983 coins were still appearing in change until it was recently withdrawn from circulation. Whilst these are pound coins, it is not the only pound coin or indeed the flagship coin of Great Britain, the sovereign.


Britain's First Pound Coin 

The first pound coin was issued in the reign of Henry VII in 1489 as a hammered gold coin called a sovereign. This sovereign was the first coin to have a value of one pound sterling. This hammered gold sovereign weighed 240 grains (equivalent to 0.5 troy ounces or 15.55 grams) and was made using the standard gold coinage alloy of 23 carat, 0.9583% fineness. The obverse displayed an engraving of the king sat on his throne and the reverse featured the Royal Arms of England within a double Tudor rose. This sovereign had been introduced to show the rest of the world that England was a powerful and successful trading nation. The hammered sovereign was eventually replaced by the Unite and Laurel coins. 


1489 Henry VII Gold Sovereign - Replica Coin

1489 Henry VII Gold Sovereign - Replica Coin


The Introduction of the Modern Sovereign

Britain paid a high cost for its involvement in the Napoleonic Wars including a huge shortage of coins. The government commissioned an overhaul of British coinage - this became known as the Coinage Act of 1816 or the Liverpool Act. A new set of coins was introduced including the sovereign in 1817. The sovereign was issued for circulation with a nominal value of one pound and was used until the middle of World War One in England.


1817 George III Sovereign with the famous St George and Dragon in Garter reverse

So, How Much Is My Round Pound Worth?

It's important to remember that many of the modern round pounds were issued in huge quantities. The mintage figure for the 1983 £1 coin is 443,053,510! Although these £1 coins are no longer British legal tender, there will no doubt be lots of coins sitting in piggy banks, change jars and down the back of the sofa throughout the country.

We would pay £1 for £1 coin. Now that these modern £1 coins have been withdrawn, coin collectors are keen to collect a full set. As time passes, there will gradually be fewer coins to choose from. To these collectors, the amount they will pay for a coin will depend on the condition and rarity of the coin. On ebay the 1983 £1 coin may fetch £2-3 but a 2011 £1 in an uncirculated condition could achieve £20-30, maybe even more if the right buyer comes along.


Don't forget, a number of variations of the £1 coin were issued each year including:

  • Uncirculated - these are the coins that you will find in your change, they are uncirculated when they leave the mint but then they become circulated. These coins are only struck once and the design often has a rather soft look.

  • Brilliant Uncirculated - these are issued in presentation packs either individually or in annual coin sets. Occasionally, these coins will have been removed from the packs and enter into circulation. Brilliant Uncirculated coins are struck twice so the design is better defined than the uncirculated coins.

  • Silver Proof - this is issued for collectors. The coins are struck to a proof finish; the design is more clearly defined and the engraving looks slightly frosted against a mirror-like background. The proof coin comes in a presentation box with a certificate of authenticity. They may be issued individually, in annual or type coin sets - for example the National Floral Emblems coin set or the 25th Anniversary coin set
  • Gold proof - although the coins you may have found in your change may look like gold, they will not be a gold proof coin. The gold proof £1 is struck in 22 carat which looks rather coppery in colour. This coin is struck between four and six times to achieve a highly defined engraving. The design is frosted against a highly polished mirror-finish background. These £1 coins come in a presentation box with a certificate and are issued individually, for example the 2011 Cardiff £1 Gold Proof Coin, or in sets such as the 2010-2011 Cities 4 Coin £1 Gold Proof Coin Set.


If you do consider selling on an auction site such as ebay, we would suggest that you take a look at the Completed Listings (you can find this if you click on the Advanced Search button). Look at the Auction Sale prices, not the Buy It Now as many of these are simply listings which have expired. The prices achieved will give you an idea of what you could hope to achieve if you choose to sell your pound coin. Supply and demand will also be another factor in how much your pound coin is worth, so if you see a lot of the same year, maybe wait a while before you sell. 


* Live gold price at 14:35 on 3.11.2017 

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