Half sovereign

1915 half sovereign: reverse

The half sovereign is an English and British gold coin with a face value half that of a sovereign: equivalent to half a pound sterling, ten shillings, or 120 old pence. Since the end of the gold standard, it has been issued only in limited quantities as a commemorative coin with a sale price and resale value far in excess of its face value. The main reason for this is because they are used, along with other coins of this type as bullion coins.


The half sovereign was first introduced in 1544 under Henry VIII. After 1604, the issue of half sovereigns, along with gold sovereigns, was discontinued until 1817, following a major revision of British coinage. Production continued until 1926 and, apart from special issues for coronation years, was not restarted until 1980. It was also used extensively in Australia, until 1933.

Modern half sovereigns, from 1817 onwards, have a diameter of 19.30 mm, a thickness of ~0.99 mm, a weight of 3.99 g, are made of 22 carat (91⅔%) crown gold alloy, and contain 0.1176 troy ounces (3.6575 g) of gold. The reverse side, featuring St. George slaying a dragon was designed by Benedetto Pistrucci, whose initials appear to the right of the date.


Year Coins minted
1982 2,500,000
1983-99 limited edition proofs only
2000 146,822
2001 94,763
2002 61,347
2003 47,818
2004 34,924
2005 30,299


The half sovereign is a "protected coin" for the purposes of Part II of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981.[1]


  1. The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, section 27(1), as read with the Forgery and Counterfeiting (Protected Coins) Order 1981 (S.I. 1981/505), article 2 and Schedule
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Preceded by
Half Pound
Succeeded by
Ten shilling note

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