The 1925 British Gold Sovereign Coin

By Jay Turner for PCGS ……
 

The Great Britain 1925 Sovereign gold coin is one of the more commonly encountered sovereigns. Often the coin has a value based on bullion plus a small percentage. However, despite the accessibility and the affordability, the coin is both a unique numismatic item and important to monetary history.

With the outbreak of World War I, the circulating gold coinage quickly disappeared from circulation and commerce. This was caused both by governments withdrawing gold from circulation as well as people not wanting to spend precious-metal coinage due to the conflict. While Sovereign coinage was produced until 1917, these coins were used for the government’s war effort and international payments rather than everyday commerce. With the gold standard no longer in place, England would not produce another Sovereign coin until eight years later in 1925.

It was Chancellor of the Exchequer Winston Churchill who would put Britain back onto the gold standard with the Gold Standard Act of 1925. The goal was to be competitive with the United States dollar, and with a return to the gold standard the pound was valued at pre-war levels. While the return of the Sovereign was for economic reasons, the valuation of the pound sterling with the gold reserve now backing it faced competition from France, Belgium, and Germany – nations that also returned to the gold standard but at a lower rate, making their exports cheaper and more competitive than England’s. Great Britain would once again leave the gold standard in 1931.

Despite the failed economic reasons, new 1925 Sovereigns were struck but not released into circulation. While these coins sat in bank vaults, they were finally released during World War II, as gold was needed for soldiers to use across enemy lines. Yet while the coins are dated 1925, they didn’t cease production in 1925. They were restruck from 1949 thru 1952 and sold into gold bullion markets, as Sovereign coinage was in high demand. The final recorded mintage of the 1925 sovereign was 4.406 million coins.

Since most of Great Britain’s 1925 Sovereign coins never saw circulation, they are quite common in uncirculated condition. PCGS has currently graded 627 examples in MS65, with an additional 24 in MS65+; 281 examples in MS66 and 11 in MS66+; and a select 15 in MS67. An example certified by PCGS in MS65 sells for under $700 at public auction, with the highest recorded price being $3,120 paid for a PCGS MS66+ specimen in a 2021 Heritage Auctions sale.

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