How To Identify If A Gold Sovereign Is Real?


How Can You Tell If A Gold Sovereign Is Real?

Out of the two Sovereigns above can you tell which one is real?

Would you be surprised to learn that both the sovereigns above are fake?

I have been an antique dealer in the UK for twenty-plus years. Buying gold and silver has been part of my daily life all this time. I have however never seen so many fake sovereigns on the market as I do now.

With gold reaching all-time highs, it’s no shock that sovereigns and Krugerrands alike are being faked. So it is more important now than ever that you can spot a real sovereign from a fake sovereign.

What Is A Gold Sovereign?

A gold sovereign is a 22ct gold coin circulated in the UK. the first gold coin produced was during the reign of Henry VII. On 28th October 1489 with the images of Henry VII on the face.

Monarchs continued to create gold coins in their image, to demonstrate their power and wealth. This tradition continued until the reign of James first, king of England and Scotland in 1603, then the tradition died out.

The Sovereign of this time bears no resemblance to the sovereign we know of today. The sovereign as we know it today was introduced in 1817 after the battle of Waterloo when the nation reviewed its coinage.

The new gold coin of 1817 was almost half the weight and diameter of the original Sovereign. The original value of the gold sovereign was nominal, just one pound sterling. it depicts George and the Dragon on the one side and the monarch’s head on the other. There are variations in design.

What Different Sovereigns Are There?

There are many different designs for sovereigns, however here we are going to look at the different sizes.

  • A full sovereign has a weight of 8 grams and a diameter of 22.05mm.
  • A half-sovereign has a weight of 4 grams and a diameter of 19.30mm
  • A quarter sovereign has a weight of 2 grams and a diameter of 13.5mm

What is a gold sovereign worth?

A gold sovereign is a generally circulated coin, Therefor it has what we call a face value. The face value is a nominal one pound sterling. 

However, Sovereigns are produced from 22ct gold and therefore have a much greater value than their face value.

The value of a sovereign will never be less than the current gold spot or scrap price. For example, a full sovereign is 8 grams of 22ct gold. 22ct gold currently standing at approx. £36 per gram. To calculate the scrap value of a full sovereign it is a simple sum of 8 multiplied by £36 = £288.

There is another element that can make a sovereign worth far more than the scrap value and this is the collectors market.

It is very difficult to value a collector’s sovereign, many factors must be taken into account.

  • The condition of the coin.
  • The age of the coin.
  • The number of coins minted in that year or reign.
  • The design on the sovereign.
  • The mint that produced the sovereign.
  • Supply and demand, how many have survived? 

How To Identify A Real Sovereign From A Fake.

Now you have an understanding of just how valuable gold sovereigns are,  and even more so if they are collectible. This should allow you to understand the temptation for forgers to fake as many as they can, and as you can see from above they are doing a great job. So how can we spot a fake sovereign?

Below is the link to a video I have created on youtube showing tips and myself testing sovereigns looking for fakes,

  • Check the weight. no metal has the same density as 22ct gold, so no matter how good a fake sovereign looks the fakers can not get the weight to match.
  • Check the size. because fakers are trying to make the fake sovereigns heavier, they make them a fraction larger to try to add weight.
  • Use a magnet. Gold is a nonferrous metal so does to sticks to a magnet. Not all fakes will stick to a magnet however if your coin does it is 100 percent fake.
  • Use acid. You can buy a full range of acids from 9ct all the way up to 22ct acids and base metal and gold acid. if you use the 9ct gold acid on a sovereign then it will be non-destructive and have no reaction, however, if it goes on a fake then it will bubble up green.

I will add a link below for anyone who isn’t familiar with using acid to test gold.

Where Can You Buy Gold Sovereigns?

There are many places you can buy gold sovereigns. I will list them below.

We all know you can buy your gold sovereigns from the royal mint, or a bullion company however this means you are paying top dollar for your coins.

You can find sovereigns,

  • At auctions.
  • At flea markets.
  • At car boot sales.
  • At antique Fairs.
  • Online auctions or groups.

While you can get a real bargain at the above locations you must proceed with caution. if possible buy from regular dealers that you can go back to if your sovereign turns out to be fake. places like car boot sales are prime for people to turn up and sell a few coins and never be seen again.

If you are able to confidently identify a real and fake sovereign then at the mentioned locations you can find sovereigns for much less than the scrap value.

Should I Invest In Sovereigns?

Gold is much like any other stock and shares as in they can go up and down in value. 

Gold has been valued for thousands of years and will always have value. 

Over the last two decades, gold has risen in value in the year 2000 gold was worth approx. £200 per ounce, today it is worth £1350.

Gold will go up and down, however here are some reasons why I feel gold is a safe gamble.

  • when you consider all events going on around the world, There is so much uncertainty it is pushing up the price.
  • The fact that there is only so much gold left in the ground.
  • The increasing cost involved to mine the gold out of the ground.
  • The amount of gold used in electronics and jewelry.

While the gold price is very high, many people are melting gold sovereigns down for scrap money. This can only increase the value of the sovereigns that will be left in time. 

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