3 - Proof Sovereigns HM Queen Elizabeth II 1953-Date

(Originally written in 2008 this article is currently being revised) 

We conclude our short look at the proof sovereign with a wander through those of our present Monarch Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Although most collectors will see 1979 as the birth place of the modern proof sovereign, there were actually quite a few before then. All are extremely rare with tiny mintage figures and are almost exclusively held in major collections.

The 1953 Proof sovereign featured the Mary Gillick designed Queens Effigy with the classic Pistrucci St George and Dragon reverse. Although this design was adopted for the currency sovereign introduced in 1957 the words BRITT OMN were omitted from the legend after 1953, and all subsequent Pre Decimal head sovereigns are know as the second issue type. In addition to the 1953 proofs examples also exist for 1957, 1958, 1959 and in both Matt and frosted cameo types for 1963. Needless to say that they are all extremely rare with only a few examples of each known with the most extensive collection housed within the Royal Mint Collection. These are rarely seen at public auctions so if any do surface you can expect price tags of £5k-£10k for 1957-1963. I understand that there is only one known example of a 1953 sovereign in private hands and HM the Queen has one, so I wish you luck in encouraging either to sell to you.

S.3866 Queen Victoria (Jubilee Head) : 1887 plain edge proof sovereign.

Although there was another very limited issue proof version of the 1976 sovereign, for most collectors the modern era of the proof sovereign does not really begin until 1979 when some 50,000 were produced. The proof sovereign has been struck ever year since and we are in our 31st consecutive issue and there are no plans to stop what has become a firm favourite with many collectors around the world.The table below gives information on every year of issue including mintage figures.

Mintage Obverse Design Reverse Design Type
1979 50,000 Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1980 81,200 Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1981 32,960 Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1982 20,000 Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1983 21,250* Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1984 12,880 Arnold Machin Classic St George Dragon 3rd Issue
1985 11,393 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1986 5,079 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1987 9,979 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1988 7,670 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1989 10,535 Bernard Sindall / Queen Seated Tudor Rose 500th Anniv
1990 4,767 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1991 4,713 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1992 4,772 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1993 4,349 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1994 4,998 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1995 7,500 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1996 7,500 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1997 7,500 Raphael David Maklouf Classic St George Dragon 4th Issue
1998 10,000 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue

1999

10,000

Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2000 9,909 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2001 8,915 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2002 12,500 Ian Rank-Broadley Timothy Noad – Shield Reverse 5th Issue
2003 12,433 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2004 10,175 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2005 12,500 Ian Rank-Broadley Timothy Noad – St G &D 5th Issue
2006 9,195 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2007 10,000 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue

2008

12,500 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue
2009 12,500 Ian Rank-Broadley Classic St George Dragon 5th Issue


* 1983 includes proof sovereigns issued within sets all other years are for those issued singularly with presentation boxes and certificates. In addition to the mintages quoted proof sovereigns are also included in 3 and 4 coin proof sets, these appear on the market when sets are split and if the collector is happy to have a coin without original certificate they can provide savings of 10-15%.

S.3866 Queen Victoria (Jubilee Head) : 1887 plain edge proof sovereign.

Between 1983 and 1999 the proof sovereign was the only type to be produced as they were no equivalent bullion issues. This means that the entire 4th issue design by Raphael David Maklouf has become quite sought after with demand growing steadily as collectors have no choice but to turn to the comparative small mintage proof type if they wish to put an example in their collection. One glance at the table tells you that sovereigns with one off designs tend to perform better in the market place, and this is certainly the case for the 2002 Shield reverse and 2005 St George and Dragon designs. The superbly worked Bernard Sindall designed 1989 500th anniversary sovereign is perhaps the most beautiful British coin there is and it’s a fact not missed on the collector as prices have risen 4 fold since 2002. The 1998 and 1999 proof sovereigns of Ian Rank-Broadley have also attracted interest from collectors again with no bullion issues and the commencement of the 5th issue playing a major part in their popularity.

S.3866 Queen Victoria (Jubilee Head) : 1887 plain edge proof sovereign.

Modern Proof sovereigns generally stay in their protective capsules and are well looked after by their owners and although a few may get melted down over the years the vast majority will remain unlike bullion coins which can see almost entire years wiped out. That is the good part, the bad part is that mintages are tiny in comparison and 5000-6000 collectors’ worldwide means the coin almost disappears off the market or is subject to hefty inflation as the 1989 example pays tribute too. In short you can expect demand for the modern proof sovereign to continue with many still quite affordable and relatively insulated from any downward movement in the gold price.

Proof Sovereigns (1817-1887) - Part 1

Proof Sovereigns (1887-1937) - Part 2

Return to - Knowledge Base Home