Britain's 2002 gold sovereign honours the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth's reign by reviving a modern version of a coin design last seen on sovereigns struck for the same anniversary of Queen Victoria in 1887. Instead of the renowned Benedetto Pistrucci engraving of St. George and the Dragon, the reverse of the 2002 gold sovereign carries the royal coat of arms for only second time in 115 years. The only previous occasion was for the 500th anniversary of the sovereign coin in 1989.
The 2002 shield design is based on a drawing by Timothy Noad, a herald painter at the College of Arms, and will grace all four members of the sovereign family, from the five-pound gold version to the half-sovereign.
Ranking among the all-time classics of numismatics, the British gold sovereign, or one-pound coin, was first issued in 1489. After Henry VII defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, he wanted a gold one-pound coin to convey the majesty of the British throne and build the country's prestige.
Britain's first one-pound coin which carried his portrait was issued at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of a very prosperous era for England. The coin was useful for storing individual wealth and for use in international trade.
Henry's first sovereign coins carried his portrait on one side and the Tudor Rose and Royal Arms on the other. They proved a huge success but disappeared from circulation during the next century. Revived after the Napoleonic Wars, the sovereign reached new heights of popularity during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). Respected worldwide for the accuracy of their weight and fineness, almost one billion were struck in London and branch mints around the world, along with untold millions of counterfeits.
Circulating versions were discontinued in the 1980s, but the coin remains popular today in its collector-only versions.
For more information, Canadian collectors can call the Royal Mint at 1-800-563-5943 or visit www.royalmint.com.
The Queen's anniversary is not the only golden jubilee being celebrated this year. Canadian coin collectors are also marking the milestone of the 50th anniversary of the Charlton Standard catalogues, the bibles of Canadian numismatics.
From a 34-page booklet first published in 1952, the Catalogue of Canadian Coins, Tokens and Fractional Currency has been expanded into five separate books comprising more than 2,000 pages of information for collectors of all types of Canadian currency.
Over the years, almost 90 different editions have been published, with more than a million copies of the "Standards" sold worldwide. Even the books themselves have become collector's items, with a mint condition copy of the first edition carrying an asking price of more than $300.
To celebrate the golden anniversary of the catalogues, Charlton Press has produced a limited edition of a combined version which includes the two most famous "Standards" - Canadian Coins, and Canadian Government Paper Money. Also included is a special chapter of timelines of all five catalogues published in the last 50 years, along with their issue dates, edition numbers, pages, and original cover prices.
Also included in the Charlton family, although not part of the Golden Anniversary bound volume, are the Charlton Standard Catalogues of Canadian Bank Notes, Canadian Colonial Tokens, and Canadian Communion Tokens.
For more information, contact local coin dealers, major book stores, or visit www.charltonpress.com.