Proof Half Sovereigns

The first modern gold proof half sovereign was issued by the Royal Mint in 1980. Struck to the same standards of gold bullion half sovereigns, proof half sovereigns are made of 22 carat gold, and weigh 3.99 grams each. They have a face value of 50p. Half sovereigns are exactly half the weight of a full sovereign.

What is a Proof Half Sovereign?

The difference between a standard half sovereign (Circulating or Brilliant Uncirculated) and a proof half sovereign is the quality of the finish. The fields on a proof half sovereign are highly polished, producing a mirror like surface. The features are more prominent, such as the monarchs portrait, or St George and the dragon on the reverse, often giving a cameo look.

A proof half sovereign has been struck each year by the Royal Mint since 1980 to present day. The majority of years feature Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and Benedetto Pistrucci’s famous portrayal of St George slaying the dragon on the reverse. For special commemorative years, the reverse design has been changed, such as the 500th Anniversary Tudor Rose design for 1989, and the Shield Back design for the Golden Jubilee in 2002.

How are Proof Half Sovereigns displayed?

All proof half sovereigns issued by the Royal Mint come encapsulated. Even small amounts of handling are incredibly noticeable, a plastic capsule protects the coin from any damage. Unless issued as part of a set, such as a 3 coin or 4 coin sovereign set, individual proof half sovereigns come housed in a Royal Mint presentation case with a certificate of authenticity. Over the years, the design and shape of these boxes has changed significantly. Please see our article on Royal Mint Proof Sovereign Boxes for more information.


The number of proof half sovereigns produced by the Royal Mint can vary quite dramatically from year to year. This creates a ‘supply and demand’ issue within the market, making some proof half sovereign dates rarer and more sought after than others. For example, according to Royal Mint figures, 100,000 proof half sovereigns were issued in 1980, compared to just over 4,000 in 1986.

It is not only the mintage figure that determines the value of a proof half sovereign year, it is also the popularity of the design. For example, the 500th anniversary Tudor Rose design issued in 1989 is one of the most sought after. With an issue of over 10,000, it is currently commands the highest price of all years.

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