2 - The Queen Victoria Shield Reverse Sovereign : 1838-39
The Victorian shield reverse young head sovereign is to my mind the most beautiful and elegant design of any in the entire sovereign series. The obverse engraved by William Wyon carrying the initially raised W.W. in the truncation with date below. The hair tied with 2 ribbons terminating in bun with drop curls.
Obverse legend : VICTORIA DEl GRATIA.
(Victoria by the Grace of God)
Reverse Legend : BRITANNIARUM REGINA FID:DEF:
(Queen of the British territories, Defender of the Faith)
The reverse engraved by Jean Baptiste Merlen continued the previous series design principle of a crown shield. This new design features a centre shield, now omitting the Hanoverian coat of arms for which Victoria being a female monarch was not entitled to use. Surrounded by a laurel wreath with a rose, thistle and shamrock motif placed centrally below the shield
Apart from minor tweaks, including the introduction of the slightly larger Victoria head in 1848, and the addition of die numbers in 1863, the basic design remained unchanged until it was discontinued completely in 1887. The London series ran from 1838-1874 with just 1840 and 1867 missing from the date run as no sovereigns were struck for those years. The new Branch mints of Melbourne (1872) and Sydney (1871) Australia covered all years between them until 1887 with just 1876 missing from the run, when only the later George Dragon reverse sovereigns were struck
The Queen Victoria Shield Reverse Sovereign 1838-1848
S.3852 (Type 1A) : The standard 1838 currency sovereign.
The 'Type 1A' Shield sovereign series starts with the sister coins of 1838 (Marsh No22) and 1839 (Marsh No23). The 2 million struck for 1838 makes it the easier coin to find compared to the mere 500,000 for the following year with the ratio of about 4-1 still holding true today. A quick search of eBay uses provides a decent guide to the now availability of certain years. Price wise the 1838 in grades truly around Extremely fine is going to cost £4000-£5000, @£2500 for decent Very Fine with the entry level being £800-£1000 for something in the Fair-Fine region. Despite the lower availability of the 1839, they can be found, and at the bottom end of the grade scale Fair - Very Fine you may not find too great a difference in asking price, however this will become more apparent as you move towards good extremely fine examples which may command figures of up to £8000-£9000.
1838 the first in the series throws us straight into out first variety, technically it’s a unique sovereign type rather than a variety, as it was a deliberately struck coin free of error. The 1838 Narrow Shield sovereign (Marsh No22A) Narrow shield with different Laurel arrangement and the Rose, Shamrock and thistle found at the base of the shield is seen with flower tops. In reality a very easy coin to spot by looking at the Laurel which on all standard Shield sovereigns finishes before the lettering of the legend and has only 21 leaves each side of the shield as opposed to the normal 24 seen on the standard issue sovereign. This is an anomaly shared with the only other narrow shield sovereign that of 1843 for which you will see a photo below. The 1838 Narrow shield coin is extremely rare, and I would be surprised to see any appear in the market place for less than £10,000 unless it was of particularly poor grade. In reality £15,000 - £25,000 is the more likely price area for examples in the Very Fine - Extremely fine bracket.