Sovereigns minted since 1817 have been produced to a standard
Actual Gold Content
22 carat = 91.67%
7.3224 grams = 0.2354 troy
Sovereigns were produced as follows:
- London: 1817–1917, 1925, 1957
- Melbourne: 1872–1931
- Sydney: 1855–1926
- Perth: 1899–1931
- Bombay: 1918 only
- Ottawa: 1908–1919
- Pretoria: 1923–1932
Melbourne During the
1850s, Victoria alone contributed more than one-third of the world’s
gold output. Although a Mint opened in Sydney in 1855, it had difficulty
keeping pace with the output of the goldfields and in 1871 a new branch
of the Royal Mint opened in Melbourne. Melbourne sovereigns carry a
small ‘M’ to identify them.
Sydney Millions of
pounds of gold bullion were shipped from Australia to London each year
to be minted into coin. However, it soon became apparent that it would
be easier to refine the gold and turn it into coins at source, rather
than transport it to Britain and have it turned into coins there.
Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide each submitted to be the venue of a
branch of the Royal Mint and after some deliberation the British
government awarded it to Sydney, which began issuing coins in 1855. This
mint issued coins with its own design from 1855 until 1870 then, in 1871
the Royal Mint insisted that all gold sovereigns regardless of Mint
should carry the British design.
The coins minted by Sydney carry a small ‘S’ mintmark to identify them
for quality control purposes.
Perth The gold mines
at Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie in Western Australia, once discovered,
quickly became recognised as two of Australia’s richest. The problems of
transporting the raw gold over 2,100 miles to the nearest Mint in
Melbourne were obvious and so a new branch of the Royal Mint was
authorised and opened in 1899.
Sovereigns minted at Perth carry a small ‘P’ mintmark.
Bombay (India) Another
branch of the British Mint was established in Bombay in India in 1918,
where the demand for sovereigns was particularly high. The Bombay mint
only produced coins for one year and all are dated 1918. Nonetheless,
the Indian mint struck more sovereigns (approximately 1.3 million) in
its single year of operation than the Ottawa branch managed in more a
Sovereigns from the Bombay mint were distinguished by the letter ‘I’ for
Ottawa (Canada) The
Klondike Gold Rush of 1897-1898 saw more than 25,000 people seek their
fortune in the frozen North of Canada. For some time all of Canada’s
coinage was struck in England but these new gold strikes made this
In 1908 a Canadian branch of the British Royal Mint was opened in
Ottawa. As well as producing silver and base metal coins for everyday
use, the new Canadian mint also turned the recently discovered gold into
sovereigns striking intermittently between 1908 and 1919.
Sovereigns of this mint carry a small ‘C’ mintmark.
Pretoria (South Africa) The
next, and final, branch mint was established in Pretoria (South Africa)
in 1923. Like the Australian and Canadian mints, this was set up to turn
locally mined gold into coins. Significant quantities of gold were
discovered in Johannesburg in 1886, setting off another mass migration
as speculators, prospectors, fortune-seekers, and adventurers from all
over the world descended upon the region.
By the end of the 1890s the area was responsible for a significant
percentage of global gold production. Sovereigns, identical to the
British coins except for the inclusion of an ‘SA’ mintmark, were struck
at Pretoria between 1923 and 1932.