2 - The Sovereigns of King William IV (1830-1837)

First Bust Type (1831 - 1832)

Second Bust Type (1831-1837)

William IV sovereigns came in 2 slightly different bust designs, known as the 1st and 2nd bust types. They are not the easiest to tell apart if you only have one and are referring purely to their descriptions. 

A - Shows the rather more wispy or prevalent curls in the 1st bust design.

B - William's ear is distinctly rounder in the 1st bust design compared to the flatter top and elongated design in the 2nd bust.

C - Draw a straight line from William's nose, and in the 1st bust design you will see the line lands between the 'N' and 'I' in BRITANNIAR. The same line in the 2nd bust type aligns exactly with the letter 'I'.

D - This underlines the very slight change in bust orientation. The very edge of Williams bust aligns with the letter 'I' in GULIELMUS in the 1st bust example, whereas in the 2nd the bust runs past the 'I' and ends much nearer to 'E'.

First Bust Type 1831 - 1832 Only.

With a total mintage figure of just 598,547 for 1831, you will not be surprised to know that even the standard 1st head type 1831 is bordering on the rare and you can expect an entry level price of @£1500 rising to something nearer £5000 for the best examples. There is one slight variant seen in the 1831, the extremely rare w.w. without the stops. It is only seen in the 1st bust type, (16A), these command around double the price of the standard coin.

We must mention the 1832, although the year itself is one of the easier to find William IV sovereigns, with a comparatively large mintage figure of 3.737,063 the 1st bust type (17A) example is not so freely available being probably out numbered 10-1 by the 2nd bust type below. I have recently seen an example in @Fine for £1500 struggling to find a home on a well known auction site, so I think we should take that as our base level with the nicer coins being @£3000 vf - @£7000 @unc.

Second Bust Type 1831 - 1837.

Before we go on to discuss 1832 it should be noted that one or two examples of the 1831 (16) appearing with the second bust are known to exist, these are exceedingly rare coins with a price tag to match. You are likely to need £10,000 for anything graded above Fine.                 

The standard 1832 (17) 2nd bust type is probably the least scarce of all William sovereigns. If you are looking for an extremely fine or above example of a William sovereign for a reasonable budget then 1832 is your year. You will find plenty to choose from at prices below £1000 to @£2500 for a truly lovely example.

1833 (18) and 1835 (19) are only found in second bust type and have no known varieties both will be slightly more difficult to find than the 1832 with the 1835 the most illusive of the two. Expect to pay slightly more than that of the standard 1832 for both of these. A quick note regarding 1834 no sovereigns were struck in this year and joins the only other 2 years 1840 and 1867 for which none were produced in an otherwise unbroken 115 year spell (1817-1932).

1836 (20A) sees one of the first major error sovereigns with a second ‘N’ appearing within the shield itself significantly above the word ANNO. Such an obvious error does raise questions and Marsh has speculated that the placing of this letter may be deliberate to denote the coin for some reason. No evidence exists to support this theory, with very few of these showing up it must be seen as very limited run of error sovereigns. Given the scarcity of these and the price tag of £15000-£25,000 we feel that the recent MARSH revision of R3 to R4 is appropriate.


The standard 1836 (20) second bust will set the collect back similar sums to the 1833 and 1835.

The final date in the series 1837 sees the tailed ‘8’ (21A) type error coin caused by a number of tooling errors and attempts to correct them. One can only guess at the events which lead to this coins creation but it is certainly the result of an initial overstrike of the 8 with a 3 and subsequent attempts to remedy the situation.

This coin is easily identifiable as the name suggests with 2 tails protruding from beneath the 8. Although classified as extremely rare by Marsh this only attracts a small premium over the standard 1837 (21) which in itself is one of the more difficult years to find. Expect to pay @£1000 for GVF and maybe as much as £3500 for examples approaching unc.

A quick note regarding the valuations contained here and those found in books, these should only be used as guides especially when looking at very rare or extremely high grade examples. Simply these only show previous prices paid and in the case of some seldom seen coins the last sale may have been some time ago and it is not unusual to see prices paid considerably in excess of these.

Total recorded mintage for 1831 :  598,547 (includes 1st and 2nd bust types)

Total recorded mintage for 1832 :  3,737,063 (includes 1st and 2nd bust types)

Total recorded mintage for 1833 :  1,225,269

Total recorded mintage for 1835 :  723,441

Total recorded mintage for 1836 :  1,714,349 (includes error 'N' type)

Total recorded mintage for 1837 :  1,172,984 (includes error 'tailed '8' type)

The total number of sovereigns struck for the reign of William IV = 9,171,653, all were struck at the New Tower Mint in London.

King William IV (1830-1837) - Part 1

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