Sovereign (English coin)

Sovereign of Elizabeth I (1583-1600)
Sovereign of Elizabeth I (1583-1600)

The English gold sovereign was a gold coin of the Kingdom of England first issued in 1489 under King Henry VII. While the coin typically had a nominal value of one pound sterling, or twenty shillings, the sovereign was primarily an official piece of bullion and had no mark of value on its face. The name derives from the large size and majestic portrait of the monarch, with the obverse of the first sovereigns showing the king full face, sitting on a throne, while the reverse shows the Royal Arms of England and a Tudor double rose.

The first sovereigns were of 23-carat (95.83%) gold and weighed 240 grains, or half a troy ounce. King Henry VIII lessened the gold content to 22 carats, or 91.67%, and under the name of crown gold this became the gold coin standard in both the British Isles and the United States. The coin's weight was reduced several times until it was last minted in 1604. Unites, Laurels, broads, and guineas later took its place.

The inscription reads A DNO' FACTU' EST ISTUD ET EST MIRAB' IN OCULIS NRS - abbreviation for A DOMINO FACTUM EST ISTUD ET EST MIRABILE IN OCULIS NOSTRIS (Latin for "This is the Lord's doing and it is marvellous in our eyes", from Psalm 118).

See also

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