A Sovereign will be going under the hammer tomorrow that requires the bidder to pay £20,000 just to have the chance of owning it.
It’s over 500 years old, is one of the earliest gold Sovereigns a collector could ever hope to own and it’s one of just three in the world that are not held by institutions.
It last sold for $500,000…
The Sovereign that started it all
The coin in question is the Henry VII Sovereign struck back in 1489 – the very first Sovereign.
It’s a Sovereign, but not quite as we know it. Whilst a modern Sovereign weighs 7.98g of 22 carat gold and has a diameter of 22.05mm, the very first Sovereign was a little different:
- 23 1/3 carat gold (0.995 fineness)
- Weighing approximately 15.3g
- Measuring approximately 40mm
It was created to assert the authority of the first Tudor king of England through its splendour and impressive weight and size after he won the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485.
Four years later, Henry oversaw a coinage reformation, which included the introduction of the largest yet struck gold coin – the Sovereign.
It was heavily influenced by one of the largest early gold coins in Europe – the Dutch Real D’Or of 1487, which was struck to a similar weight.
The Sovereign as a coin value proved successful and was issued throughout the subsequent Tudor reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary Tudor, Elizabeth I and Stuart King James I.
It was such a popular coin for trading purposes that James shortly changed the name of his Twenty Shilling piece to the “Unite” to symbolise bringing together the Kingdoms of Scotland and England for the first time.
A Thirty Shilling piece followed and had the same physical attributes of the earlier Sovereigns, but was named the “Rose Ryal”.
At that point, it appeared that the Sovereign’s race was run, only for it to be rejuvenated under the Recoinage Act of 1816. The “modern” Sovereign would appear for the first time 1817 and go on to become the most recognised and widely traded gold coin ever made.
The $500,000 Sovereign
The coin going under the hammer tomorrow last sold in 2013. Bought by an American at an auction in Chicago, it fetched close to $500,000.
Its ascent to be a half million dollar coin is remarkable. Ownership of the Sovereign can be traced back to Victorian times across just six custodians. Here are the prices it achieved the last three times it changed hands:
1956 – £1,400
1983 – £25,000
2013 – $500,000 (approximately £300,000 at the time)
What will it sell for tomorrow? If you have to pay £20,000 just to bid (although unsuccessful bidders will be fully refunded), it’s fair to expect another eye-watering price.
If you’re interested…
I can’t offer you the original 1489 Sovereign, but I can point you to a Sovereign that is intrinsically linked to it. In fact, it’s probably the hardest-to-find proof Sovereign in the world…
It was struck in 1989 to mark the 500th anniversary of the very first Sovereign and The Royal Mint did something very special with the coin for the anniversary.
It has a one-year-only reverse AND obverse design. It’s the only Sovereign that has ever been issued like this.
The obverse features Her Majesty seated as King Henry VII was on the original Sovereign in 1489.
The reverse design change – reverting back to the very first design of 1489 – was the first for over 100 years, cementing this Sovereign as a must-have for collectors. That’s why they’re as hard to find as hen’s teeth.
You have the chance to own the only one I have available.