Gold Coin Information
British Gold Coins:
Great Britain has struck high fineness gold coins for hundreds of years. Right up until the gold standard was dropped in the 30's British gold coins were actually spent, much like high value banknotes of today.
After a few gaps, gold coins are now struck every year and are still legal tender. However because of the gold content the individual coins metal value is always worth more than it's face value. Recently, gold coins have been struck in proof quality and many gold coins, especially proof strikings, coins in mint condition and coins with rarer mint marks are worth slightly more than face value.
The information below shows the purity and amount of pure gold in all British gold coins produced from the Great Re-coinage of 1816, to now. The gold content is measured in Troy ounces because that is normally how gold is measured (sorry if it makes no sense with the metric coin weights!):
Denomination: Quarter Sovereign. (gimmicky coin issued from 2009 onwards) 13.5mm. Coin weight 1.99g. Purity 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.0588oz.
Denomination: Half Sovereign. Diameter: 19.3mm. Coin weight: 3.994g. Purity: 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.1177oz.
Denomination: Sovereign. Diameter: 22.05mm. Coin weight: 7.9881g. Purity: 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.2354oz.
Denomination: Two Pounds (Double Sovereign). Diameter: approx 27-29mm. Coin weight: 15.9761g. Purity: 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.4708oz.
Denomination: Five Pounds (Sovereign type). Diameter: 36.02mm. Coin weight: 39.9400g. Purity 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 1.1771oz.
Denomination: Five Pounds (Elizabeth II Issues, crown sized gold versions of normally silver coins). Diameter: 38.61mm. Coin weight: 39.9400g. Purity 91.66% (22ct). Fine gold content: 1.1771oz.
Modern Britannia series gold Bullion coinage:
Denomination: Ten Pounds. Diameter: approx 16mm. Coin weight: 3.412g. Purity: 91.7% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.1oz.
Denomination: Twenty five pounds. Diameter: approx 21-22mm. Coin weight: 8.513g. Purity: 91.7% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.25oz.
Denomination: Fifty Pounds. Diameter: approx 27mm. Coin weight: 17.03g. Purity: 91.67% (22ct). Fine gold content: 0.5019oz.
Denomination: One Hundred Pounds. Diameter: approx 33mm. Coin weight: 34.05g. Purity: 91.7% (22ct). Fine gold content: 1oz.
The gold coins of George VI were only issued in small quantities, struck to proof standards. Generally, George III - Victoria shield back sovereigns and half sovereigns are worth more than bullion value unless very worn.
Generally, all Two pound and Five pound coins are worth more than bullion value unless very worn. Mint condition half sovereigns and sovereigns are generally worth more than bullion value with the exception perhaps of common Elizabeth II coins. Normally sovereigns/half sovereigns are only collected by coin collectors in mint condition (or close to it) but there are many rarer years and mint marks that are worth more than bullion value.
The Quarter sovereign was issued by the Royal Mint from 2009 onwards, sold at much higher than bullion prices. I believe that due to the gold value being high at the time, the Royal Mint would have wanted to create a gold coin that they could sell for less than £100 to make something within budget for more potential buyers, so the Quarter Sovereign was created, which is therefore technically 5 shillings in face value (a crown, surely!?).
This page should NOT be used as a guide to the value of your gold coins. It just contains the facts about the coin types and especially with the sovereigns of Victoria - George V there are some rarer years with different mint marks/varieties etc.
A note on Mint letters:
From the reign of Queen Victoria to the Reign of King George V many gold coins (mainly Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns) were produced in other world mints in British colonial countries. These coins are identical to the coins produced in Great Britain at the Royal mint, but to distinguish them a mint mark consisting of a letter or letters will be visible on the coins struck outside the UK.
The mint letters used were: M for Melbourne, S for Sydney and P for Perth in Australia. C for Ottawa in Canada, and SA for Pretoria in South Africa.
The letter/letters are very tiny and on many of the St George reverse coins it is unfortunately the first thing to wear away. On the coins of Victoria if a mint mark is present it will either be right in the middle on the back of the coin below the shield (above small flower) or under the Queens neck on the front. With St George reverse coins the letter/letters are on the ground under the horses rear right hoof (right in the centre of the coin, above the date).
Below is a live chart showing the current value of gold in GBP(£) per troy ounce:
This live chart shows the current value of gold in GBP(£) per Kilogramme:
Thankyou for reading this page,
Chris Perkins Originally 18th December 2003. Updated 19th December 2005 and 28th July 2015.
If you are not sure what denomination a coin is maybe my identification guide will help. See the main advice hub page.