Proof Sovereigns

The first modern gold proof sovereign was issued by the Royal Mint in 1979. Struck to the same standards of gold bullion sovereigns, proof sovereigns are made of 22 carat gold, and weigh 7.98 grams each. They have a face value of £1.

What is a Proof Sovereign?

The difference between a standard sovereign (Circulating or Brilliant Uncirculated) and a proof sovereign is the quality of the finish. The fields on a proof 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 sovereign has been struck each year by the Royal Mint since 1979 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 Sovereigns displayed?

All proof 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 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.

Mintages

The number of proof 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 sovereign dates rarer and more sought after than others. For example, according to Royal Mint figures, 50,000 proof sovereigns were issued in 1979, compared to just over 4,000 in 1993.

It is not only the mintage figure that determines the value of a proof 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.

Please see our table below for more information on mintage figures and designs.

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