British Half Sovereigns & Technical Specification

Author: Lawrence Chard - Chairman and CEO

Published: 25 Jul 2018

Last Updated: 24 Dec 2022


Value Added Tax was abolished on investment gold including half sovereigns from January 1st 2000 - Information about half sovereigns.

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.

Proof Half Sovereigns

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, 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

Gold Half Sovereign Bullion Victoria Jubilee Shields - Obverse

Gold Half Sovereign Bullion Victoria Jubilee Shields - Reverse

Our range of British gold half sovereign coins are available as both bullion and specific collectable dates and we are proud to offer investment guidance on your next purchase. If the product you are looking for is currently out of stock, email notifications can be set up on each product page meaning you are the first to find out when we add stock to our website. 

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