Sovereign Coins Buying Guide

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Sovereign Coins Buying Guide

A sovereign is a type of gold bullion coin that originates from Britain. These coins were first minted in 1817 and since then have become a favourite with investors and hobbyists around the world.

Due the large volume of sovereigns available for sale, it is recommended that all first time buyers spend some time familiarising themselves with the coins available.

eBay is a great place to search for sovereigns and can offer better value for money than a coin dealer would. However it is important to be able to recognise a fake or damaged coin. This guide shall examine the sovereign and provide information on how to find and purchase this form of bullion online.

A History of the Sovereign

  • Although originally first minted in 1817, sovereigns are actually named after an earlier form of bullion coin that was first minted by King Henry VII in 1489, and last minted in the 17th century.
  • The newer version of the coin was much more detailed and Italian engraver Benedetto Pistrucci designed the coins minted in 1817.
  • This coin abandoned the traditional heraldic reverse in exchange for a detailed engraving of St. George battling the dragon.
  • The 1825 sovereign coin dropped St. George in favour of the royal arms.
  • Dragon and shield sovereigns depicting the head of Queen Victoria were both available from 1871 – 1887.
  • The detail of St. George remained on all sovereigns minted from 1887 onwards.
  • Sovereigns were minted in large quantities until the outbreak of World War I. Production resumed briefly in 1925 but it wasn’t until 1957 that the Royal Mint began manufacturing these coins again.
  • Coins minted in 1925 have a lower gold standard than those minted before and after.
  • Sovereigns have been minted in Australia, India, Canada and also South Africa.
  • The Royal Mint are the manufacturers of the sovereign, and along with the traditional one pound sterling sovereign there are also ten shilling half-sovereigns, two pound double sovereigns, and five pound quintuple sovereigns.


  • Each sovereign’s monetary value is equal to one British Sterling Pound.
  • All coins weigh 7.98 grams.
  • Sovereigns have a thickness of 1.52mm.
  • Each coin has a fineness of 22 carat gold.
  • The gold content of the coins are 7.32 grams.
  • The British sovereign is the most traded numismatic coin in the world today.

Grading The Coin  

Buyers should be able to tell what kind of condition the coin is in just by looking at its picture. The following list is the grading system used in Britain to determine a sovereign’s state.

  • FINE – The sovereign will have some wear but most of its details including date of mint and lettering should still be visible.
  • VERY FINE – The sovereign will have limited wear, mainly due to the highest points of the coin. This coin will have had very limited circulation.
  • EXTREMELY FINE – The sovereign will have very little wear. Wear is only visible on highest points under close inspection.
  • UNCIRCULATED – The sovereign will have no wear and will appear as it did after it left the mint. May have slight bag marks around the edge.
  • PROOF – Proof sovereigns were originally manufactured as pre-production samples. Design will be clearer and brighter than those found on standard sovereigns.
  • BRILLIANT UNCIRCULATED – An uncirculated sovereign that still retains the majority of its brilliance. These coins are not to be confused with proof sovereigns.
  • FLUER DE COIN – This is the term used to describe a sovereign that is in perfect condition. When purchasing a FDC sovereign be sure to visually inspect any photos for damage or imperfection. A FDC coin can be expected to come at a higher price when compared to other coins.

Coins can also be graded as POOR, FAIR or GOOD. However these coins are considered by collectors to be too damaged to worth buying.

Benefits of Buying Sovereign Coins

The following lists a number of benefits from buying sovereign costs:

  • All British sovereigns are free from capital gains tax.
  • Sovereign coins are quite easy to store.
  • The rarity and historical importance of some coins adds to their value.
  • The Gold bullion is a good option if looking to invest. The coins can be stored in a secure place at home.
  • Gold bullion acts as an insurance against times of economic trouble. During currency crisis, the price of gold rises.
  • Gold is a long lasting precious metal. Gold’s softness means it can be converted from one form to another over and over.
  • British sovereign coins are valued higher than Krugerrands and other gold coins.
  • Historic value increases the coins worth.
  • It is not advised for first time buyers to invest in some of the rare sovereigns. A lot of knowledge and research is required to successfully locate and buy these coins at a just rate.
  • Antique sovereigns are highly sought after by collectors and museums alike.

Finding Sovereign Coins On eBay

To begin a search for sovereign coins on eBay, it’s best to follow these guidelines:

Click on the All Categories tab located to the left of the search bar.

  • This will load up the Categories page.
  • From there scroll to Coins and click on More.
  • Click Coins to be brought to the relevant page.
  • Type sovereign into the search bar and press enter.
  • Click on the British heading found in the filter table to the left.
  • This will load up the page for British sovereign coins.

If searching for a specific sovereign, enter in any extra details e.g. year of mint, member of the royal family on the heads side etc. The more information a buyer has about the item they’re searching for, the easier it will be for them to find it. Buyers having difficulty locating a desired sovereign can use eBay’s Wish List to make other users aware of their search.

Sovereign Coin Listings Page

  • Sovereign coins will be listed as Bid Now, Buy It Now or Best Offer. If a sovereign is listed as Buy It Now then it is not for auction and is for sale at a set price.
  • The table on the left contains filters that can be used to refine the search. These include the Condition of the sovereign, the Price, the Buying Format and Location of the sovereign.
  • The table on the left also contains filters to change the time period of sovereigns shown.
  • The amount of listings show per page can be 25, 50, 100, and 200. To change the number shown scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the relevant box.
  • To modify how the sovereigns are listed click on the Sort by drop down menu found at the top of the listings table. Items can be listed by price, location, condition and the time left in the auction.

Sovereign Coin Item Page

Click on an item’s title to be brought to its individual item page. The item page contains relevant information regarding the sovereign, the price, the seller and the costs for postage and packaging.

  • All sovereigns on eBay should be accompanied by a photograph of the coin in it current condition. If there is no photo then request one by using the Ask A Question function found below the description box. It is important to be able to see the sovereign before purchasing it, as this may be the only way to determine it’s authenticity.
  • Details about the Current Bid price, time left in the auction and the current location of the sovereign can be found to the right of the picture.
  • The description box includes any messages from the seller and should always be checked.
  • The postage and payments box includes costs and estimated delivery time.
  • If the seller is a business then their contact details will be found at the bottom of the page. Refund policies can also be found here.

Authenticating and Avoiding Fakes

  • Unfortunately, the majority of sovereign coins do not come with a Certificate of Authentication and this may pose as a risk to a potential customer who is buying online. However, there are ways to tell whether a coin is a fake or not.
  • Contact the seller and ask for the weight of the sovereign. All sovereigns should weigh 7.98 grams and if the weight is anything above or below then try another listing.
  • Ask if the sovereign has been polished as this may reduce the value.
  • Examine any photos of the coin for visible faults in the design. Compare the design to those of authentic coins.
  • Is the price realistic for the make and year of mint? If a sovereign is selling at a much cheaper price than its worth, it is most likely a fake.   
  • Sovereigns can be sent to the Coin Grading Service (CGS) for assessment and encapsulation.

The Seller

  • Check to see if the seller is a business. If they are classified as a business, ask the seller if the sovereign will be guaranteed in purity. If buying from an individual ask for proof of authenticity.
  • Read the comments left by other buyers about the seller. This is a quick and easy way to review their dealings with other eBay users and also serve as an indicator as to whether their items will be as described and delivered on time. If the seller has received a higher percentage of negative feedback then it is advised to search for another listing.
  • Compare pictures and specifications of the coin with others from the same mint.
  • eBay’s Resolution Centre helps deal with any problems between buyers and sellers. To contact the Centre, click the link found in the Customer Support drop down menu at the top of the page.
  • All of eBay’s users are protected by the Buyer Protection Programme. All of eBay’s transactions are handled and processed by PayPal.


British sovereign coins are of interest to both investors and collectors. The sovereign is recognised as a form of gold bullion, and the historical value, purity and the rarity of the coin all decide its value. Try to determine the sovereign’s authenticity before making any purchases, and contact eBay if any problems arise. Remember, buying sovereign coins can be a very rewarding pastime, but all buyers need to be vigilant to ensure that they receive good value for their money.