George Frederick Ansell Calculation law

Author: Connor Campbell - Bullion & Economics Editor

Published: 13 Oct 2022

Last Updated: 18 Oct 2023


Discover about George Frederick Ansell calculations on sovereigns that he conducted in 1870. Additionally, learn about the rare Ansell Sovereigns that he ordered to be stuck with a much stronger alloy.

George Frederick Ansell Portrait

Who Was George Frederick Ansell?

George Ansell was born in Carshalton, Surrey on 4th March 1826. In his early life he worked in medicine and as an apprentice surgeon before moving onto a new career pathway in Chemistry. Ansell learnt that Chemistry was his true calling and he decided to study at the Royal College of Chemistry and eventually joined The Royal Mint.

What Was George Frederick Ansell's Calculation

In 1870, while George Frederick Ansell worked for The Royal Mint, he released a book titled 'Its Working, Conduct, and Operations, Fully and Practically Explained'. Inside the book he comments the "law that 20lbs of troy/standard or crown gold shall be made into 934.50 sovereigns." He continues by stated that the weight of a single sovereign is 123.2744783306581059 troy grains, i.e. 7.9880518266452649 grams.

Sovereign Calculation

20lbs. troy of standard or crown gold (= bar)

  • 20 lbs troy
  • 12 troy ounces per pound
  • 240 troy ounces
  • 480 grains per troy ounce
  • 115200 grains
  • 934.5 sovereigns per bar
  • 123.274478330658 grains per sovereign 
  • One grain = 64.79891 milligrams
  • One grain = 0.06479891 grams
  • Therefore a sovereign weighs 7.98805182664527 grams
  • Fineness (22/24) 0.916666666666667 fine
  • Sovereign fine gold content 7.32238084109149 grams
  • Grams per troy ounce 31.1034768
  • Sovereign fine gold content 0.23542001070091 troy ounces

What Was the Ansell Sovereign?

Ansell was most famous for his experiment that he conducted in 1859 when a batch of gold was rejected by The Royal Mint. The result of his experiment was that he was able to produce a strong alloy that became the 167,539 'Ansell' sovereigns that were stuck at The Royal Mint. For Ansell's creative thinking he received a £100 bonus for his Ansell Sovereigns although, only 15-25 are known to exist today making these sovereigns extremely rare.

The Ansell Sovereigns was issued under Queen Victoria's reign meaning the obverse features Queen Victoria's Young Head portrait. Find out more about Victoria Young Head Shield Sovereigns.

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