NGC Registry

1/2 SOVEREIGN TYPE SET 1817-2010, Circulation Issue, (GEORGE III-ELIZABETH II).

Set Type: Half Sovereigns Type Set, George III - Elizabeth II, Circulation Issue
Owner: TMS Coins
Last Modified: 10/26/2012
Views: 164

Award Time Rank: 3
Award Time Score: 28055

Set Description


The Royal Mint struck its first gold sovereign in 1489 during the reign of Henry VII. This coin became known as a "sovereign" because the obverse design depicted the King enthroned in regal splendour. It was the first gold coin produced with a value of one pound or twenty shillings, it was the largest coin yet issued in England and also the most beautiful. The half-sovereign was introduced a few years after, during the reign of King Henry VIII (1509-1547), in the year 1544, nearly 300 years before the modern coinage period. The modern sovereign, smaller and featuring on the reverse the classic St. George and the dragon design by Benedetto Pistrucci and the half-sovereign featuring the Royal Arms were introduced in 1817, during the reign of King George III (1760-1820), taking the form in which we know them today.
Currency gold half-sovereigns continued to be issued by the Royal Mint in London for the reigns of King George IV (1821-1830), King William IV (1831-1837), Queen Victoria (1838-1901), King Edward VII (1902-1910), and King George V (1911-1915).
After 1915 currency half-sovereigns were not issued by the Royal Mint until 1982, during Queen Elizabeth II reign, when the first bullion half-sovereign issued only for that year.
The year 2000 was of particular interest to half-sovereign enthusiasts, because for the first time since 1982 a bullion type half-sovereign was struck and continued to be struck yearly ever since.


The Reign of King George III (1760-1820) House of Hanover.
Born: 4 June 1738.
Accession: 25 October 1760.
Married: Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz 8 September 1761 the day they met for the first time.
Coronation: Tuesday, 22 September 1761.
Children: nine sons, six daughters.
Died: 29 January 1820, aged 81.

On 25 October 1760 King George II died and his grandson succeeded to the throne as George III. It was during this reign that the introduction of the new modern coinage began.
Currency half-sovereigns during this reign were only issued for the years 1817,1818 and 1820, none being issued for 1819. These half-sovereigns featured on the obverse the King's head facing right and the date at the bottom of the coin; on the reverse an angular shield surmounted by the royal crown, bearing the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom.
A good example of the first two dates should not prove too difficult for the collector to obtain, however, the half-sovereign for 1820 (R2 M.Marsh) will not be easy to acquire especially in high grade, and this is without doubt because a low mintage of only 35,043 of this date were struck.


The Reign of King George IV (1820-1830) House of Hanover.
Born: 12 August 1762.
Accession: 29 January. 1820
Married: Caroline of Brunswick 8 April 1795 later separated and banned from attending the Coronation.
Coronation: Thursday, 19 July 1821.
Child: one daughter Charlotte who predeceased her Father 6 November 1817.
Died: 26 June 1830, aged 67.

King George IV (1763-1830) succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father George III on 29 January 1820. Three types of half-sovereigns were issued during his reign.
The first half-sovereign (Type 1) was issued by the Royal Mint only for the year 1821 and it was a splendid example of both engraving and design by Pistrucci. It carried a magnificent laureate head bust of the King, and its reverse featured the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom garnished and surmounted by a large crown. The half-sovereign for 1821 (R5 M.Marsh) is an elusive coin, very difficult to obtain, especially in high grade.
The half-sovereign (Type 2) was next issued in 1823 (R2 M.Marsh) with the same obverse as in 1821, but with a plain square shield surmounted by a crown on the reverse. This second issue was further struck for the years 1824 and 1825.
The (Type 3) half-sovereign featured the bust of the King bare headed on the obverse. The reverse carried a beautifully garnished shield surmounted by the royal crown. Type 3 half-sovereigns were first issued bearing the date 1826 and were also struck for 1827 and 1828.
In general half-sovereigns have become a great deal more difficult to find these days, and without doubt those of George IV are very hard for the collector to acquire.


The Reign of King William IV (1830-1837) House of Hanover.
Born: 21 August 1765.
Accession: 26 June 1830.
Married: Adelaide of Saxe-Coburg and Meiningen, 11 July 1818 after first meeting a week before, a double wedding with his brother, Prince Edward the Duke of Kent.
Coronation: Thursday, 8 September 1831.
Children: two daughters who both died in childhood, ten illegitimate children previously.
Died: 20 June 1837.

King William IV (1765-1837) succeeded to the throne upon the death of his elder brother in June 1830. No currency gold coins were issued for that year. Although proofs were issued of both the sovereign and half-sovereign bearing the date of 1831, and also a currency sovereign for the same year, the half-sovereign was not issued as a currency piece for this reign until 1834. The 1834 half sovereign had a diameter of only 17.9mm. This was considerably smaller than any other half-sovereign previously struck during the modern era, and they in fact measured 19.4mm; it was though the same weight and fineness as previous issues. Four more currency issues of half-sovereigns (1835, 1836, 1837) were made during this short reign, two of these bear the same date of 1836.
All these half-sovereigns featured on the obverse the bare head of the King facing right, engraved by William Wyon(1795-1851), and on the reverse a garnished shield modelled and engraved by Jean Baptiste Merlen (1769-1850).
The half-sovereigns of William IV very seldom appear. 1834 (R2 M.Marsh), 1835 (S M.Marsh), 1836 (R2 M.Marsh), 1837 (R M.Marsh). However, the key coin of this small group is the 1836 half-sovereign with its obverse struck from a sixpence die (R5 M.Marsh).


The Reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) House of Hanover.
Born: 24 May 1819.
Accession: 20 June 1837.
Married: Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, 10 February 1840.
Coronation: Thursday 28 June 1838.
Children: four sons, five daughters.
Died: 22 January 1901, aged 81.

Queen Victoria (1819-1901), began her reign upon the death of her uncle on 20 June 1837. She enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch so far. Many fine types and varieties of gold coinage were produced during Victoria's reign. Regarding the half-sovereign, three main types or designs were recognised during this period: The "Young Head", the "Jubilee Head" and the "Old Head" (Veiled Head).
The first gold currency half-sovereign for this reign was issued in 1838, bearing the " Young Head " design on the obverse and the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom within a garnished shield surmounted by a crown on the reverse. Several types and varieties were issued with this design until 1885. All these "Young Head" half-sovereigns are difficult to find in Mint state, especially the earliest dates.
The Golden Jubilee half-sovereign was struck in 1887, bearing on the obverse the bust of the Queen facing left and wearing a small crown and the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom within a garnished shield and surmounted by a royal crown on the reverse. Four more currency issues of half-sovereigns ( 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893) were struck with the same " Jubilee Head " design.
In 1893 the final design of coinage known as the " Old Head " or " Veiled Head " type was introduced. This type featured on the obverse the bust of the Queen facing left, veiled and draped, and on the reverse the design of St. George mounted with streamer flowing from helmet, slaying the Dragon with sword. Nine issues of gold half-sovereigns were struck by the Royal Mint with this design (1893-1901).


The Reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910) House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
Born: 9 November 1841.
Accession: 22 January 1901.
Married: Alexandra of Denmark 10 March 1863.
Coronation: Saturday, 9 August 1902.
Children: three sons, three daughters.
Died: 6 May 1910, aged 68.

King Edward VII (1841-1910) began his reign upon the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901, but no new coinage was struck during that year.
The first half-sovereign for Edward VII was struck in 1902, featuring the bust of the monarch on the obverse, and on the reverse the design of Saint George slaying the Dragon.
The Royal Mint continued to issue currency half-sovereigns during Edward's reign yearly until 1910.
Half-sovereigns for this reign were also struck at the Australian branch mints of Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.


The Reign of King George V (1910-1936) House of Windsor.
Born: 3 June 1865.
Accession: 6 May 1910.
Married: Mary of Teck, 6 July 1893.
Coronation: Thursday, 22 June 1911, second Coronation as Emperor of India at the Delhi Durbar, Tuesday, 12 December 1911.
Children: five sons, one daughter.
Died: 20 January 1936, aged 70.

King George V (1865-1936) succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father King Edward VII in May 1910. Several million gold coins were struck during his reign but few would be used for currency. The main reason for this was the Great War of 1914-1918, and the outbreak of this in August 1914 quickly saw the Government issue Treasury notes for one pound and ten shillings. The public were urged not to use gold and by 1915 gold had all but dissappeared from circulation in London. The Royal Mint struck currency half-sovereigns during George V reign for the years 1911 to 1915, all featuring on the obverse the bust of the King facing left and on the reverse the design of St.George slaying the Dragon.
Half-sovereigns continued to be issued for King George V reign and after 1915 by the Australian branch mints of Melbourne (1915), Perth (1911,1915,1918), Sydney (1911,1912,1914,1915,1916) and at the branch mint of Pretoria in South Africa (1925,1926).

KING GEORGE VI (1937-1952)

The Reign of King George VI (1936-1952) House of Windsor.
Born: 14 December 1895.
Accession: 11 December 1936. Married: Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, 26 April 1923.
Coronation: Wednesday, 12 May 1937.
Children: two daughters.
Died: 6 February 1952, aged 56.

During this reign only proof half-sovereigns were struck by the Royal Mint as part of the four coin Coronation Proof Set (Mintage:5001).


The Reign of Queen Elizabeth II (1952- ) House of Windsor.
Born: 21 April 1926.
Accession: 6 February 1952.
Married: Philip of Greece and Denmark, 20 November 1947.
Coronation: Tuesday, 2 June 1953.
Children: three sons, one daughter.
Celebrating her Diamond Jubilee Year 2012.

Queen Elizabeth II was born on 21 April 1926 and succeeded her father George VI after his death in 1952. Two different types of currency half-sovereigns were issued during her reign.
The first was issued only for the year 1982 as a bullion coin featuring on the obverse the young head of the Queen facing right and on the reverse the design of St.George slaying the Dragon.
The second type was struck in the year 2000 when the Royal Mint re-issued a bullion type gold half-sovereign and continued the issue yearly ever since. This second type carries the fifth Rank-Broadley bust of the Queen and the reverse Pistrucci's St.George slaying the Dragon.


DIAMETER: 19.3-19.4mm
WEIGHT: 3.994g
ALLOY: Gold.
FINENESS: 22 Carat.
EDGE: Milled.


THE COIN YEAR BOOK 2012, Edited by John W. Mussell.

This complete type set consists of fourteen beautiful gold half-sovereigns, all in mint state condition, and most of them in the highest certified grade. It is highlighted by the 1821 example ( R5 M.Marsh ) in MS64, single finest graded and the 1914 in MS66, which is one of two finest of all George V certified gold half-sovereigns by NGC.

Best World Set

Slot DescriptionFull GradeScore Updated
View Coin George III, 1817-1820 MS 64 2301 5/11/2012
View Coin George IV, Laureate head, ornately garnished, 1821 MS 64 5329 5/10/2012
View Coin George IV, Laureate head, plain, 1823-25 MS 64 2462 10/10/2012
View Coin George IV, Bare head, 1826-28 MS 62 2178 11/1/2012
View Coin William IV, Bare head Small size, 1834 MS 61 2770 10/15/2012
View Coin William IV, Bare head Large size, 1835-37 MS 62 2642 9/15/2012
View Coin Victoria, Young head without die number, 1838-85 MS 65 2626 5/7/2012
View Coin Victoria, Young head with die number, 1863-79 MS 64 1856 11/21/2012
View Coin Victoria, Jubilee head without die number, 1887-93 MS 62 684 11/21/2012
View Coin Victoria, Veiled head St.George, 1893-1901 MS 65 1041 8/19/2012
View Coin Edward VII, 1902-10 MS 65 785 7/22/2012
View Coin George V, 1911-15 MS 66 886 10/19/2012
View Coin Elizabeth II, Young Head, 1982 MS 65 655 5/11/2012
View Coin Elizabeth II, Tiara, 2000-Date MS 69 1840 5/11/2012

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