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What is a Pattern Coin?
January 11, 2024
Intrinsic Value Library
January 11, 2024
Edward VIII Sovereign

The Rarest Gold Sovereign

The rarest Gold Sovereign in existence is the Edward VII struck in 1937 which is the same year as the other rare Gold Sovereign featuring George VI. The Edward VIII Sovereign is known as the coin that was never meant to exist and is classified as a pattern coin

The Edward VIII Gold Sovereigns are the rarest known, rarer still than George VI Sovereigns which are often confused as the same coins given they both display '1937' on the coin. There is only a single Edward VIII full sovereign in private ownership, three reside in the Royal Mint's Museum. The coin is controversial for several reasons. Firstly it was customary for Royals to face in the opposite direction to their predecessor but Edward VIII elected to face left, the same as his father before him

When the coin was in the design phase, two alternate portraits were proposed, one by Humphrey Paget and the other by William McMillan. The Royal Mint Advisory Committee could not choose a favourite and so it was the King himself that chose the effigy that would feature on his Gold Sovereigns. Edward VIII chose Paget’s portrait which was less stern despite it being the inferior design. Edward VIII's breaking of the alternate facing portrait was done to include his side-parting, which he thought would make the overall design less bland

As collectors are likely aware, Edward VIII was King of Great Britain for less than one year. After taking the thrown in January 1936, he later abdicated the throne in December of the same year. The Royal Mint had prepared the necessary dies for the coins to enter mass production in 1937 but the King stepping down meant that the Sovereigns and other coins were never manufactured for circulation

As the Edward VIII is the rarest Gold Sovereign ever struck, reaching a valuation is very difficult. This coin is one of the most important British Gold coins in existence and will be extremely sought after by the numismatic elite collectors. A Gold Edward VIII quintuple Sovereign was sold at auction in 2021 for $2,280,000. Controversially, a report in 1936 appeared to confirm a full set of 5, double, full and half Sovereigns being struck with Edward VIII although we can confirm no half Sovereign was ever minted

Edward VIII Sovereign Mintage

How Rare is the Rarest Sovereign?

There is some conflict on the exact mintage of the rarest Gold Sovereign featuring Edward VIII. A 2009 publication 'Portraits of a Prince' stated that there were 6 sets of Edward VIII sovereigns which had mostly been broken up and sold as individual coins

Yet the Royal Mint's own records in 1950 shows there was only 3 complete sets. However, current consensus is that four sets exist, one owned by the British Royal Family, two owned by the Royal Mint Museum of which the British Museum has loaned. The other set, and the only one in private hands, is part of the Tyrant Collection which is owned by US software billionaire Dan O'Dowd

The rarity of these coins coming to market makes knowing their valuation extremely difficult if not impossible. We know, however, that a Edward VIII Gold Quintuple Sovereign surfaced at auction in 2021 with a hammer price of $2,280,000. The full Sovereign has surfaced twice, once at auction in 2014 where it fetched £430,000 and was then brokered by the Royal Mint for £1,000,000 in January 2020

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