Shield Back Sovereigns

Author: Juliana Chard - Chief Numismatist

Published: 1 Mar 2018

Last Updated: 24 Dec 2022


Some people say 'shield back sovereigns' to distinguish sovereigns. We avoid this as it is tautological, there are no sovereigns with a shield on the front.

This is about the only page on our website where you will find us referring to a shield back sovereign or shield back sovereigns, as opposed to simply saying shield sovereign or shield sovereigns.

Please click here to view all of our "shield back sovereigns" if you wish to buy one.

Shield Sovereigns

The term "shield sovereign" is usually applied to a Victoria young head sovereign, minted between 1838 and 1887, with a shield as the design on its reverse (back). There were also shield designs used for George IV and William IV, and also in 2002 for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee year. There is no particular need to refer to any of these other reigns as "shields", because no non-shield sovereigns exist for the same dates ranges, whereas for Queen Victoria, the St. George and dragon design was re-introduced in 1871, paired with a young head obverse until 1887.We can understand inexperienced collectors adding the word "back", but when dealers add it, we cringe!


1880 Sovereign Obverse


1880 Sovereign Reverse


Tautology means saying the same thing twice. Because there are no sovereigns with a shield on the obverse (front), then it is unnecessary to state that it is on the back. We can't really understand why so many people say "shield-back sovereigns", unless it's because using more words gives them the chance to hear their own voice for longer, or it makes them feel more important to use more words than necessary. One of our other favourite, or should that be unfavourite, examples of unnecessary verbiage is the expression "at this point in time" or sometimes "at this moment of time". The word "now" would usually substitute perfectly well, and save four words. It strikes us there are two possible reasons for using the longer way round, one is when politicians or other spokesmen wish to play for time while they make up a suitably plausible answer, and the other is because they presumably makes them sound more important because they have used more words. We think it simply makes them look more stupid, or possibly dishonest.

Related Blog Articles

This guide and its content is copyright of Chard (1964) Ltd - © Chard (1964) Ltd 2024. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.

We are not financial advisers and we would always recommend that you consult with one prior to making any investment decision.

You can read more about copyright or our advice disclaimer on these links.