Great Britain 1839 sovereign

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Heritage sale 3015, lot 24993
photo courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries
This specimen was lot 24993 in Heritage sale 3015 (Long Beach, September 2011), where it sold for $14,950. The catalog description[1] noted,
"Super-Rare-Grade 1839 Sovereign Victoria gold Sovereign 1839, Young Head, MS64 PCGS, a wonderful near-gem sovereign glowing with satiny luster, its outstanding eye-appeal achieved in part because of its lovely original gold color, the strike on the queen's portrait excellent and showing the deep details of her curls and ponytail, while the reverse is equally sharp except for the two lowest leopards in the shield's second quadrant. In all, a real premium example of this, one of the rarest of the early date sovereigns of this reign. Much rarer than the highly popular 1838, and the 2011 SCBC reflects this with a value of £4,150 for the 1838 but £5,250 for the 1839. A possible explanation for the rarity of the 1839 sovereign is that, while some 1838 sovereigns were obviously saved by wealthy citizens as mementoes of the new queen's first gold coin, in 1839 collectors could purchase the Coronation proof set, with a proof 1839 sovereign in it, and so most of the 1839 sovereigns meant for commercial purposes did in fact go into commerce, and their luster soon faded away as they passed from hand to hand. Not so here! This is one of only a few (3-4) truly UNC sovereigns of this date seen by the cataloguer in some 35 years of both dealing in and cataloguing British coins for auctions worldwide, and one of the finest, being truly Mint State and very choice. An important coin, much rarer than the proof. From The Hillgrove Collection."
This bust was used on the sovereign, or one pound coin, 1838-64 with a slightly modified type (KM 736.2) extending until 1874.

Recorded mintage: 504,000 plus a few proofs.

Specification: 7.988 g, .917 fine gold, .2354 troy oz AGW.

Catalog reference: S3852, KM 736.1.


  • Bressett, Kenneth E., A Guide Book of English Coins, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 2nd Ed., Racine, WI: Whitman Publishing, 1962.
  • Cuhaj, George S., and Thomas Michael, Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1801-1900, 7th ed., Iola, WI: Krause Publications, 2012.
  • Lobel, Richard, Mark Davidson, Allan Hailstone and Eleni Calligas, Coincraft's Standard Catalogue of English and UK Coins, 1066 to Date, London: Coincraft, 1995.
  • Skingley, Philip, ed., Standard Catalogue of British Coins: Coins of England & the United Kingdom, 46th edition, London: Spink & Son, 2011.
  • [1]Cristiano Bierrenbach and Warren Tucker, Heritage World Coin Auction 3015, Dallas, TX: Heritage Auction Galleries, 2011.

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