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HI31934

George III 1817 Sovereign AU58, first year for modern sovereign

Regular price £4,750
Regular price Sale price £4,750

George III (1760-1820), gold Sovereign, 1817, first laureate head right, date below, legend commences lower left GEORGIUS III D: G: BRITANNIAR: REX F:D:, rev. Saint George and dragon right, incuse BP below broken lance at lower left for designer and engraver Benedetto Pistrucci, garter motto surrounding, buckle with incuse WWP for Master of the Mint William Wellesley Pole, French motto HONI. SOIT. QUI. MAL. Y. PENSE. edge milled (Bentley 4; Marsh 1; Bull EGC 895; S.3785). Lightly toned with clarity in the King's bust, some contact marks, with notable residual lustre in the fields, graded by NGC as AU58.

NGC Certification 6620711-002.

Calendar year mintage 3,235,239.

The Latin legends translate to on obverse "George III by the Grace of God, King of the Britains, Defender of the Faith." The older Norman-French legend on the reverse translates as "Evil to him, who evil thinks" and is the motto of the chivalric Order of the Garter founded in 1348 by King Edward III. During the latter half of the 18th Century there was a distinct lack of small change and a long-standing issue with the import and export of silver and gold coins in this country.

The influx and outflow of gold and silver was unbalanced by a lack of harmonization of the gold to silver ratio in Europe.

The lack of small change in silver was also due to the fact there was no limit to the specie of how coin and bullion payments were made whether here or in Europe, and the lack of a legal tender law meant that silver was drained from the country along with gold unless it was hoarded. The advent of the Napoleonic wars also had a bearing on all of this too, with wars being a very costly exercise.

These problems were eventually solved by the new coinage act of 22nd June 1816 introduced by Lord Liverpool which set a limit of 40 shillings for payments in silver and unlimited in gold.

This act helped set a stable gold to silver ratio facilitating a steady flow of import and export of the metals and coinage and also stopped the illegal tender of foreign coins in change.

Under Master of the Mint William Wellesley Pole new coinage was worked upon immediately under Thomas Wyon and Halfcrowns, Shillings and Sixpence dated 1816 onward were issued as the start of a "Great Recoinage".

Mint Master Pole brought Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci to the Mint to work on the new senior coinage denominations and it was his designs for the gold Sovereign and Half-Sovereign that first appear dated 1817, as well as a Halfcrown which were subsequently followed by the silver Crowns dated 1818 onwards.

Pistrucci's design for the Sovereign was approved first, on the 18th June 1817, and the first sovereigns were struck on the 5th July 1817 at 7.98g weight standard and a 22mm diameter, with a face value of One Pound which equated to 20 Shillings or 240 Pence. The gold Half-Sovereign followed on into production from 11th October 1817.

King George III is portrayed facing right with a laurel wreath tied in his hair and is truncated at the neck.

Benedetto Pistrucci famously depicted the patron saint St George slaying the dragon on the reverse and Pistrucci's initials BP appear faintly incuse under the broken lance at left side of the groundline. The initial W W P for Pole appear incuse around the belt buckle at the lower left of the reverse which holds the Order of the Garter motto.

This was the first time in nearly 300 years that St George was portrayed on a British coin. The only previous depiction of St George was on the George Noble and Half-Noble denominations only issued for a short time in the second coinage of King Henry VIII.

The 1817 Sovereign was the first modern sovereign with a calendar year mintage of 3,235,239 coins it has since gone on to become arguably the most successful gold coin ever minted by the UK with world-wide distribution.

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