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The Gold Coins of England

Robert Lloyd Kenyon, 1884
George IV (1820-1830)

Table of Contents

GEORGE IV, 1820 TO 1830.

The first gold coins of George IV were sovereigns and half-sovereigns, which were struck by virtue of an Order in Council, dated March 5th, 1821, and were made current by proclamation on May 5th; the sovereign was ordered to have St. George and the Dragon on the reverse, and the half-sovereign the arms in a shield surrounded by the rose, thistle, and shamrock, with the word Anno and the date of the year. These coins were of the same value and weight as those of George III, but the minimum weight for a current coin fixed in 1817 having been found to be too high, a proclamation of February 6th, 1821, ordained that every sovereign weighing not less than 122k grs., and every half-sovereign weighing not less than 61 grs., should be thenceforth received as current money; and these still remain the least current weights. The half-sovereign of this coinage was, however, soon suppressed, because the type was so like that of the sixpence that the latter was gilt and passed for a half-sovereign; and an Order in Council of September 19th, 1823, directed the coinage of a double sovereign and of a new half-sovereign, the reverse of which, though described in the order in the same way as the first had been, was differently executed to distinguish it from the sixpence.

A new coinage both of gold and silver was ordered on June 14th, 1825. The gold coins mentioned in this order are the £5 piece, £2 piece, sovereign, and half-sovereign, but though patterns were made for the two former pieces, none were actually issued for currency.

The types of the coins are as follows :—

DOUBLE SOVEREIGN. Bust to left, head bare, not laureate, hair short, neck bare, I.B.M., the initials of the engraver Merlin, below the bust. Legend, beginning at bottom and interrupted by the head, GEORGIUS IIII D : G : BRITANNIAR : REX F: D: Rev. St. George and the Dragon. No legend, but 1823 in the exergue, with B.P., the initials of Pistrucci, in small letters; on the ground, under the broken shaft of the spear, WWP for William Wellesley Pole, the master of the mint. On the edge, DECUS ET TUTAMEN ANNO REGNI IV. (175) Rud. 2 R. 10. MB. The obverse of these coins was by Merlin, who copied the bust from one by Chantrey; the reverse was by Pistrucci. The latter had been ordered to engrave the obverse also, but the king insisted that the bust should be copied from Chantrey’s model, which Pistrucci thought it beneath his dignity to do, and Merlin was accordingly employed instead. Some were struck also with the dates 1825, 1826, both of which have on the edge ANNO REGNI SEPTIMO in very slightly raised letters. They are of similar type to the later sovereigns, but were not issued for circulation. MB.

SOVEREIGN. The first of these have on the obverse the king’s bust to left, laureate, tye has a loop and two ends, hair short, neck bare, BP (for Pistrucci) below the bust. Legend and reverse as the double sovereign; edge milled. 1821, 1822, 1823, 1824, 1825. The later sovereigns have the king’s bust to left, not laureate, hair short, neck bare, date under bust. Rev. Square shield, arms as on George III’s half-sovereigns, garnished, crowned, crown interrupting legend, which begins at bottom, BRITANNIARUM REX FID : DEF: Dates 1825, 1826, 1827, 1829, 1830. All in MB. (176) Rud. 2 R. 13. The earlier sovereigns are by Pistrucci; of the later on the obverse was engraved by W. Wyon, the bust being copied from a medallion of the size of life by Chantrey; the reverse was by Merlin.

HALF SOVEREIGNS. The first of these have the same obverse as the first sovereigns, but on the reverse a garnished shield crowned, surrounded by roses, thistles, and shamrocks; arms as on George III’s half-sovereigns ANNO to left, 1821 to right of shield, the feet of the letters being towards the edge of the coin. The letters WWP (for William Wellesley Pole, master of the mint) are in the respective centres of three of the shamrock leaves. (177) Rud. 2 R. 11. MB. These half-sovereigns being withdrawn in consequence of their resemblance to the sixpences, the next, having the same obverse, have on the reverse a plain square shield, arms as before, colours marked; underneath it a thistle and shamrock issuing from a rose. ANNO to left of shield, date 1823, 1824, or 1825 to right, the feet of the letters being towards the shield. (178) Rud. 2 R. 12. All in MB. The later half-sovereigns are exactly like the later sovereigns, and are dated 1826, 1827, 1828. All in MB. A mint return shows that 4205 half-sovereigns were coined in 1829, but as none are known with this date they must have been struck with the dies of the previous year.

2 Sovs. Sov. ½ Sov.
1821 By Pistrucci; head laureate + +
1822 By Pistrucci; head laureate +
1823 By Pistrucci; head laureate, plain shield on ½ sov. + +
1823 Obv. Chantrey and Merlin, rev. Pistrucci +
1824 Pistrucci, head laureate, plain shield on ½ sov. + +
1825 Pistrucci, head laureate, plain shield on ½ sov. + +
1825 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin + +
1826 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin + + +
1827 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin + +
1828 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin +
1829 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin +
1830 Obv. Chantrey and Wyon, rev. Merlin +

George III (1760-1820) | Table of Contents | William IV (1830-1837)

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