King George V Gold Sovereigns. (Minted 1911-1935)

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Minted from 1911 to 1935, the George V design was the last British gold sovereign produced for regular issue. Our George V sovereigns are very well struck with strong, detailed devices and a lovely orange-gold color. The obverse features a portrait of George V, and the reverse depicts the mythical slaying of the dragon by St. George. King George V saw his role as monarch as being to embody those qualities his far-flung subjects saw as their greatest strengths – diligence, dignity & duty. Seemingly to emphasize this, King George V was the only monarch whose effigy appeared on sovereigns from all seven mints.

George reigned during the height of the Royal Mint’s reach, but the tumultuous events of World War I, the collapse of the international monetary system and the demise of the gold standard meant that he would be the last King to grace the sovereign.
The reverse depicts St George mounted with a streamer flowing from his helmet, slaying the dragon with a sword. The date appears below the exergue line with the initials B.P. to the right, the mintmark (if applicable) appears in the centre of the exergue line directly above the date.

Sized for trade, British gold sovereigns were produced at seven different mints during the fabled era when “the sun never set on the British Empire.” From Britain to India, Canada to South Africa and Australia, these timeless gold pieces were indeed the most trusted coins in the world because of their pure gold content and secure backing by the British crown. In fact, they were included in the survival kits of American pilots during both World War II and Desert Storm.
The reverse depicts St George mounted with a streamer flowing from his helmet, slaying the dragon with a sword. The date appears below the exergue line with the initials B.P. to the right, the mintmark (if applicable) appears in the centre of the exergue line directly above the date.

King George V Large Head 1911-1928 Sovereigns.

The King George V “Large Head” obverse appeared on Australia’s sovereigns during an era of national change and turmoil. The effects of events as momentous as World War I and the Great Depression were felt for many decades to follow, also influencing the rarity of many Australian sovereigns. The Large Head King George V portrait is seen on many of the rarest coins ever issued in Australia – it is a complex series, one that many novice collectors find foreboding and steer clear of.

The King George V “Large Head” obverse appeared on Australia’s sovereigns during an era of national change and turmoil. The effects of events as momentous as World War I and the Great Depression were felt for many decades to follow, also influencing the rarity of many Australian sovereigns. The Large Head King George V portrait is seen on many of the rarest coins ever issued in Australia – it is a complex series, with gold production in Victoria and Western Australia declining steadily; Australia’s economic fortunes fluctuating widely, and high volumes of gold being exported to repay debt from WWI.

YearLondonSydneyMelbournePerthCanada
Gold Sovereign 1911 Proof3,764Extremely Rare000
Gold Sovereign 191130,044,1052,519,0002,851,4513,413,474257,048
Gold Sovereign 191230,317,9212,227,0002,469,2574,390,6720
Gold Sovereign 191324,539,6722,249,0002,323,1804,689,7493,717*
Gold Sovereign 191411,501,1171,774,0002,012,0294,771,65714,900*
Gold Sovereign 191520,295,2801,346,0001,637,8394,334,1350
Gold Sovereign 19161,554,1201,242,0001,272,6344,107,7056,119 *
Gold Sovereign 19171,014,7141,667,000934,4694,116,84058,875*
Gold Sovereign 19181,294,3523,716,0004,969,493 (1)3,725,961106,570
Gold Sovereign 191901,835,000514,2572,852,156135,957
Gold Sovereign 19200360,000530,2662,533,5420
Gold Sovereign 19210839,000240,1212,320,5300
Gold Sovereign 19220578,000608,3062,256,1870
Gold Sovereign 1923 Proof0655000
Gold Sovereign 19230416,000511,1292,129,026719*
Gold Sovereign 19240394,000278,1401,428,9842,660*
Gold Sovereign 19253,520,000 (2)5,632,0003,311,6621,868,0076,086,624
Gold Sovereign 192601,031,050211,1071,297,62511,107,611
Gold Sovereign 19270310,1561,305,42016,379,704
Gold Sovereign 19280413,2081,399,10218,235,057
Bombay Branch Mint issues one year type 1918. Pretoria Mint, South Africa commences operations 1923.
 (1) 5 Different guides have five different figures ranging between 4,807,000 to 4,969,000.
 (2) Not including the 1925 dated Sovereigns minted in 1949, 1951 and 1952
See George VI bullion issues for additional numbers

An entire King George V Large Head Obverse sovereign set has only ever been completed just a handful of times, while a date set offers great potential. Upon examining each of the years included, the canny collector will be able to tell which years are poised for growth first.

King George V Small Head 1929 – 1932 Sovereigns.

YearMelbournePerthSouth Africa
Gold Sovereign 1929436,938 (1)1,588,35012,024,107
Gold Sovereign 193077,5881,773,91410,027,756
Gold Sovereign 193157,8091,173,5678,511,792
Gold Sovereign 193201,066,6800
 (1) Australian guides quote 137,000 but others quote 436,938

George V Sovereigns history and numismatic value.

King George LARGE HEADS Sovereigns, 1911-1928.

A complete set of this obverse type spans 17 years; 3 mints and includes 51 coins. Although a complete set is near impossible for the average collector to attempt, a date set avoids many of the pitfalls that a complete set presents, yet still yields many of the rewards.

As can be seen from the following list of rare dates, it is possible to trace a path from 1911 to 1928 without getting stuck on any of the heavy hitting rarities:

  • Key date: 1920 Sydney, (Rarest coin released as currency by an Australian mint, less than 10 example Known)
  • Extremely Rare: 1920 Melbourne, 1921 Melbourne, 1922 Sydney; 1922 Melbourne, 1923 Sydney, 1926 Sydney
  • Rare: 1921 Sydney, 1924 Sydney, 1926 Perth, 1928 Melbourne
  • Scarce Dates: 1919 Melbourne, 1923 Melbourne, 1924 Melbourne, 1924 Perth, 1926 Melbourne, 1927 Perth, 1928 Perth

Although an entire book could be written on the intrigue surrounding the coins in this series, 3 or 4 major factors were in play. Gold production in Victoria and Western Australia declined steadily; Australia’s economic fortunes fluctuated widely; and high volumes of gold were exported to repay debt from WWI.

King George V saw his role as monarch as being to embody those qualities his far-flung subjects saw as their greatest strengths – diligence, dignity & duty. Australian designer Bertrand Mackennal obviously held these values in mind when casting his portrait. Not only is there a wide variation in the rarity of many Large Head sovereigns, there is just as much variation in the depth to which this portrait is struck.

  • If a novice collector is not familiar with the nuances of strike from year to year and mint to mint, they may attribute a lack of detail to wear, instead of strike and vice versa. The points to examine when grading this obverse are:
  • The peaks of the eyebrow and upper cheek;
  • The fine detail in his moustache;
  • The broad area of hair above the ear & towards the fringe;
  • The neck muscle between his ear and the base of his neck.

King George SMALL HEADS Sovereigns, 1929-1931.

The King George V “Small Head” obverse is seen rather late in the life of the sovereign, it was issued only for the last 3 years during which Australia was on the gold standard. It was introduced in an attempt to improve the level of detail seen both in the obverse & reverse designs.

One of the technical considerations for an artist designing a coin is that when the coin is struck, the metal should flow evenly throughout both designs. If the design is higher on one side than the other, then not all of the opposing design will be clear. This was thought to be the case with the George V Large Head portrait, hence the change.

A complete King George V “Small Head” obverse set covers 3 years; 2 mints and includes 6 coins. With just 6 coins to buy, it might at first seem easy to complete; however, a few of these coins do not become available that often.

Key Date: 1929 Melbourne

Scarce Dates: 1930 Melbourne, 1931 Melbourne

King George V Gold Sovereign Big Head Small / Head Comparison

Due to the smaller portrait, there is a larger portion of the fields exposed on the Small Head than on the Large Head. This coin is more prone to having bag marks in the fields as a result, and the novice collector may under grade coins as a result. All of the same high points, as on the Large Head portrait, should be examined.

And so, what is the difference? First one the “small Head” has a smaller head (sic) in higher relief than the big head: Second one is the big head has a “single rim”, the small head has a double rim (just as the reverse of both coins.) If you look at the video you can see the difference.

George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India.

King George V and Queen Mary were crowned at Westminster Abbey on 22 June 1911. They were subsequently enthroned as Emperor and Empress of India at New Delhi on 11 December 1911. As king and queen, George and Mary saw Britain through World War I, a difficult time for the royal family as they had many German relatives. To stress his support for the British, The King made over 450 visits to troops and over 300 visits to hospitals visiting wounded servicemen, he pressed for proper treatment of German prisoners-of-war and he pressed also for more humane treatment of conscientious objectors. On one visit to France in 1915 he fell off his horse and broke his pelvis. In 1917 he changed the name of the Royals from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor. He also adapted the German family-names of the related British noble families in response to anti-German feeling (e.g. “Battenberg” became “Mountbatten”)
George V took the controversial decision to deny political asylum to the Tsar Nicholas II and his family after the Bolshevik Revolution. People were shocked by George’s unwillingness to protect his cousin but his advisers argued that it was important for the king to distance himself from the autocratic Russian royal family. Some people questioned this decision when it became known that the Bolsheviks had executed Tsar Nicholas, his wife and their five children.
The king had not enjoyed good health for a long time and during his final years he spent much of his time on his grand passion, philately and died of influenza on 20th January, 1936.

George V an inspiring leader.

King George V saw his role as monarch as being to embody those qualities his far-flung subjects saw as their greatest strengths – diligence, dignity & duty. Seemingly to emphasize this, King George V was the only monarch whose effigy appeared on sovereigns from all seven mints. George reigned during the height of the Royal Mint’s reach, but the tumultuous events of World War I, the collapse of the international monetary system and the demise of the gold standard meant that he would be the last King to grace the sovereign.

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