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Updated 07:14 28/02/21

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Edward VIII Sovereign Coins


Edward VIII Gold Sovereign coins are arguably the rarest British coins in existence. The Edward VIII Sovereign is even described as “the coinage that never was”. It is so rare that only six of these coins exist. Unsurprisingly, being one of the United Kingdom's rarest coins, they are very highly sought after, and one sold at auction very recently for the UK record-breaking sum of £1 million.

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Edward VIIII Sovereign. .
The record-breaking Edward VIII Sovereign recently sold at auction for £1 million, as seen on the Royal Mint Twitter account.
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Are there any Edward VIII coins?

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There are only a very small number of Edward VIII coins in existence. Coins featuring the monarch are extremely rare because the minting process, due to begin in January 1937, was suspended due to Edward VIII abdicating in December 1936 to marry the controversial American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

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Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson.
Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson on holiday in the former republic of Yugoslavia, 1936.
Picture courtesy of The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford.

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In preparation of the new king taking the throne, a few test proof and pattern coins had been struck after Edward ascended to the throne in January 1936. After the king abdicated however, these were sealed away by the then Master of the Mint, and disappeared from public knowledge for years.

The box was rediscovered in the 1970 when the Master retired, and 49 coins featuring Edward VIII were found. Three more coins were later found from that period but these were uniface reverses, meaning the portrait of King Edward VIII had not yet been struck.

It is believed there are now just six Edward VIII Sovereign coins in existence; four are in the possession of museums (one in the Royal Mint’s own museum), and two are owned by private collectors.

In 1984, one such Sovereign sold at auction for £40,000. In 2014, another changed hands for £516,000 – this was a UK record at the time. The most recent sale almost doubled this however, both setting a new record and becoming the first UK coin to sell for over a million pounds.
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Edward VIII gold coin

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Gold Sovereigns were first minted for King Henry VII in the 15th century. Since 1817 the design has remained virtually unchanged. To this day it features Benedetto Pistrucci's St George and the Dragon design on the reverse, and the monarch's head on the obverse, with only a few minor deviations over the years.

The Edward VIII gold Sovereign is very unusual for two reasons. The first is obviously the low number made. Most Sovereigns are struck in their thousands, with mintage numbers in the millions for monarchs such as Queen Victoria.

The second reason for the Edward VIII Sovereign being more unusual is because the King's portrait faces left, as did the coins of his father, George V. Monarchs traditionally alternate the direction they face. Edward VIII however refused to follow this tradition, claiming that he preferred his left profile and insisting he faced that way.

Like other gold Sovereigns it has a technical face value of £1. It is 22mm in diameter, weighs 7.98g and is struck from 22-carat gold.
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Most expensive coin

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Though the £1 million pound Edward VIII Sovereign broke the record for a British coin, it is still far below the world record. This is held by the 1794 United States “Flowing Hair Dollar”, which was sold at auction in 2013 for over £7 million ($10 million). This was believed to be one of the very first Dollars struck by the US Mint, and was found in excellent condition.

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1794 Dollar
Flowing hair dollar, the world most costly coin.

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Bullion coins can always fall back on their intrinsic metal value, but the soaring prices of the Edward VIII Sovereign coins illustrates the investment opportunities numismatic coins can offer.

Sadly, we cannot sell you an Edward VIII Sovereign, but BullionByPost does have a huge range of collectable gold Sovereigns, plus other rare and collectable bullion coins.

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William IV 1831 - 1837

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