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The Royal Mint launches The Sovereign 2018

December 21, 2017 – The Royal Mint is marking the 65th anniversary of Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation with a celebratory edition of The Sovereign for 2018. The coin – the coin of the monarch – features a special mint mark depicting a royal crown with ‘65’ entwined in the design.

The Sovereign 2018 Gold Proof Coin / 22 Carat Gold / 7.98 g / 22.05 mm / Design: Jody Clark (obverse) and Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse) / Mintage: 10,500.The Sovereign 2018 Gold Proof Coin / 22 Carat Gold / 7.98 g / 22.05 mm / Design: Jody Clark (obverse) and Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse) / Mintage: 10,500.

The Sovereign 2018 Gold Proof Coin / 22 Carat Gold / 7.98 g / 22.05 mm / Design: Jody Clark (obverse) and Benedetto Pistrucci (reverse) / Mintage: 10,500.

The regal ‘65’ mint mark was specially created for the occasion by Royal Mint coin designers Natasha Preece and Joseph Melia. The mark can be found alongside Benedetto Pistrucci’s legendary St George and the dragon on the reverse of this Sovereign, which is struck in 22 carat gold and finished to Proof standard. The size, style and placement of the mark were carefully considered to make sure it complemented Benedetto Pistrucci’s classic interpretation of St George and the dragon.

Reverse of the 1817 Sovereign.

Reverse of the 1817 Sovereign.

The story behind the Pistrucci Sovereign

In the early eighteenth century the effects of the Napoleonic Wars and a shortage of silver meant that the United Kingdom’s circulating coinage was in poor condition. The re-coinage and exchange of 1816-17 would transform the nation’s coins, and it meant greater scrutiny and efficiency than ever before. The Royal Mint had moved to a new location in Tower Hill, equipped to meet the new demands with modern steam-powered machinery. 

Alongside this activity, legislation would formalise the Gold Standard, setting out the coins to be produced, and the standard to which they would be struck. One key change was to reinstate the 20-shilling piece but this time the coin of 20 shillings would be known as the pound, or Sovereign. Circulated alongside the 21-shilling gold guinea for a time, it was essential that The Sovereign was distinctive enough from the existing gold coin.

The reverse design chosen was the instantly recognisable St George and the dragon created by Benedetto Pistrucci, now acknowledged across the world as a masterpiece. While The Sovereign has deviated from the iconic St George at times, it always returns to this 200-year-old design. 

Cameo of Benedetto Pistrucci by his daughter Maria Elisa Pistrucci, ca. 1850.

Cameo of Benedetto Pistrucci by his daughter Maria Elisa Pistrucci, ca. 1850.

Benedetto Pistrucci and his iconic design

Benedetto Pistrucci came to London in 1815 under the patronage of the Prince Regent. He was relatively unknown in Britain but his reputation attracted interest and he quickly found sponsors and supporters of his work. Soon after his arrival, his engraver’s talent was recognised, as he was given the prestigious task of creating the designs for the new gold and silver coins of George III.

Pistrucci’s St George and the dragon design has become synonymous with The Sovereign. He created an interpretation that defied the medieval image of St George, instead opting for a Greek interpretation, bare and muscular, not weighed down with the usual chain mail and armour. 

The obverse design – Jody Clark

Since joining The Royal Mint, coin designer Jody Clark has worked on many notable projects. He created the fifth definitive coinage portrait of Her Majesty The Queen that was introduced in 2015. He also created designs for the medals struck to celebrate the 2014 Ryder Cup and the NATO Summit, and his contemporary interpretation of Britannia featured on the 2014 edition of the Britannia coin. 

Jody said: “I liked all four of the previous portraits, each one strong in its own way. I hope that I’ve done The Queen justice and captured her as I intended, in a fitting representation. The news that my design had been chosen was quite overwhelming and I still can’t quite believe that my portrait will feature on millions of coins. They’ll be everywhere and are likely to be around forever.”

The Sovereign 2018 Proof Collection includes individual editions and exclusive sets, all available in limited numbers. 

For more information on these and other releases, visit the website of The Royal Mint.

There you can also find a wealth of information on the Sovereign.

A good overview of the life and work of Benedetto Pistrucci is provided by this featured Wikipedia article.

Portraits created by Pistrucci can be viewed on the website of the London National Portrait Gallery.

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