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Silver Sovereign

We often get asked about the silver Sovereign. Customers often believe they possess such a coin, or enquire about purchasing one, but in truth there is no such thing as a silver Sovereign, or at the very least not one issued by the UK.

The only official UK Sovereign coins are the gold Sovereigns, and they are one of the most popular bullion coins in the world. These were first struck in 1817 as a common currency coin, with a face value of one pound.

Bar a few occasional interruptions from wars, gold Sovereigns have continued to be minted since that time to this day. Nowadays however it is struck by The Royal Mint purely as an investment bullion coin, and not for circulation.

There are two reasons a person might believe they own a silver Sovereign: they are in possession of an imitation coin, or they hold a different type of British silver coin.

Silver Sovereign Coin

Considering the popularity of the gold Sovereign, it would be reasonable to assume that a silver Sovereign coin exists. Unfortunately the UK government has never authorised the minting of silver Sovereigns, and no such coins have been struck by The Royal Mint.

Silver coins that seek to imitate the gold Sovereign have been made, but they are not official products of The Royal Mint; this means they cannot be classed as legal tender and have no face value as a technical currency. This also means they do not enjoy the tax benefits enjoyed by official Royal Mint coins – such as exemption from Capital Gains Tax.

Instead, any coin claiming to be a silver Sovereign should instead be categorised as a non-UK coin, or as coin-shaped souvenirs or tokens. These are made by unofficial mints and/or refiners looking to capitalise on the popularity and traditional design of the gold Sovereign, but will not be as valuable or as easy to sell. They are often issued on behalf of other countries, and this will be an easy way to tell that the coin you have isn't a true UK coin.

As they do not count as official coins, a silver Sovereign will only have a scrap value in silver, on account of the precious metal content. Attracted by their appearance alone, some buyers may be prepared to still buy these silver Sovereign coins, but we would caution that they are often priced beyond their true metal value. At BullionByPost we would also only be able to pay scrap rates for theses coins, due to their unofficial status.

Silver Crown

One official coin does occasionally get mistaken for a silver Sovereign, but is a very different coin. The silver Crown was a currency coin introduced in 1707 in honour of the Union of England and Scotland. It was worth five shillings, and weighed 28 grams.

An 1819 silver Crown coin, sometimes mistaken for a silver Sovereign.

1819 silver Crown. One of the coins that can be mistaken for a silver sovereign.

The confusion arises between the two because, at various times, the Royal Mint has struck silver Crowns with the same George and the Dragon design used on the normal gold Sovereign. As seen in the images above and below, this design – by Italian medallist Benedetto Pistrucci – is found on almost all gold Sovereigns. It’s appearance on the silver Crown can therefore make it easy to mistake for a silver Sovereign.

A comparison between an 1897 silver Crown and an 1897 gold Sovereign.

An 1897 silver Crown vs an 1897 gold Sovereign.

Silver Crown coins remained in productions throughout Queen Victoria’s reign, and even into that of George V. The design would occasionally feature a shield rather than the dragon design, and Crowns of George V were known as ‘Christmas Crowns’ on account of the wreath featured on the reverse.

Silver coins

Unlike silver Sovereigns, genuine Royal Mint silver coins are also attractive to both investors and numismatics. The silver Britannia for example is typically the first silver coin of choice for investors. They offer CGT exemption, and the lowest premiums of all UK silver coins. For those who want something with an additional collectable value, the Royal Mint also produces other limited mintage ranges such as the Queen’s Beasts, and Myths & Legends series.

The Royal Mint Valiant coin, the closest official alternative to a silver Sovereign.

The other alternative to a silver Sovereign would be the Royal Mint’s Valiant coin (shown above). These coins, struck in silver, depict an image featuring St. George slaying a dragon. This makes them similar to the Sovereign but they remain their own coin, with a different design, name and value.

These coins offer unique designs, and the same CGT exemption as a silver Britannia. We would advise that genuine silver coins should be the product of choice for all investors and collectors. Since 2021 however it appears the Valiant range has been discontinued, though it could make a reappearance in later years.

For those who want the classic design of the Sovereign, with all the benefits the official coin brings, then the gold Sovereign should be your first choice. The Quarter Sovereign and Half Sovereign coins also bring the gold Sovereign design to those looking for a lower entry cost.