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Queen Victoria Young Head Gold Sovereign | 1838-1887

Queen Victoria Young Head Gold Sovereign | 1838-1887

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Product Description

Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837, but the inaugural gold sovereign of her reign was minted the following year, in 1838. This coin portrays Queen Victoria as a young woman with her hair elegantly arranged and tied with a ribbon. Designed by William Wyon, the esteemed chief engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 to 1851, it stands as a testament to his mastery and ranks among the finest creations in the annals of British coinage.

Renowned for its exquisite craftsmanship and timeless style, this portrait remained in use until 1887. Despite its enduring popularity and aesthetic appeal, the depiction bore little resemblance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, who by then was nearly 70 years old. Interestingly, this same portrait graced the famous Penny Black stamp, the world’s first postage stamp. Adapted from a sketch by Henry Corbould, based on Wyon’s cameo-like head from 1834, it adorned British stamps until Victoria’s passing in 1901, when she was 81 years old.

On the reverse side, the coin showcases the armorial shield of Great Britain, featuring the arms of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland within a shield, topped by a crown. Surrounding the shield is a wreath, beneath which lies an intertwined rose, thistle, and shamrock. Engraver Jean Baptiste Merlen is credited with this design.

The use of the armorial shield as the reverse design dates back to King George IV, continuing through the reign of William IV. Queen Victoria’s earliest sovereigns from 1838 also bore this emblem. However, in 1871, the design depicting St. George slaying the dragon was reintroduced, becoming synonymous with the British gold sovereign. For a brief period, both designs were struck concurrently, but in 1874, the Royal Mint discontinued the use of the Shield design, though it persisted in colonial issues until 1887. The Shield design made a sole reappearance in 2002, on a special one-year-only issue commemorating the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.


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