Gold Sovereign
Mint marks

1871 - 1932


In order for the Royal Mint to distinguish the sovereigns minted at the Branch Mints they used a variety of mint marks.
Mint marks can be traced back to the earliest of coins, they are often employed to allow an issuing authority with a way to distinguish the origin of the coins with a view to ensuring purity and weights.
The British Government uses the Trial of the Pyx in order to do this. Pyx comes from the Greek pyxis meaning small vessel or box with a lid. A random selection of coins were (and still are) placed into a box which is taken to a council of goldsmiths where purity and weights are checked against a known trial plate.
In 1957 the Perth Mint was having troubles with their assays using the trial plate sent from London, when using the plate to assay the bullion produced, they kept coming up with purities in excess of 100%, which of course, is impossible. When they notified London of this problem and finally got them to believe that the assays were carried out correctly, London requested a sample plate. When this plate was assayed , it turned out to be the purest gold ever produced, coming in at 999.999 parts per 1000 fine. Perth Mint was then requested to supply the plates in order to reset their gold standard.
Plate 42c as it was designated is on display at the Perth Mint today and is still considered the purest of all trial plates.

Queen Victoria, Young Head

Mint marks can be found on sovereigns from 1871, this also coincides with the re-introduction of St George
Young head sovereigns came from three mints, being the Royal Mint in London (no mint mark), Sydney Branch and Melbourne Branch
On the Young Head, St George sovereigns the mintmark can be found below the truncation of the neck on the obverse of the coin.
On the Shield reverse sovereigns the mint mark can be found below the knot of the ribbon and above the heraldic flowers. From 1863 to 1874, on most London issues, a die number can be found, see below for more information.

Young Head, St George Reverse


Young Head, Shield Reverse

Arrows indicate position of mint marks


Sydney
S
1871 - 1887


Sydney
S
1871 - 1887


Melbourne
M
1872 - 1887


Melbourne
M
1872 - 1887

Die Numbers


London

1863 - 1874

In 1863 die numbers were introduced to the reverse of the sovereign. There are many possible reasons for using die numbers. The most obvious is to be able to check and control the quality of the dies, particularly if experiments were being conducted into die wear. It is possible that different methods of treating and hardening dies may have been carried out, and die numbering would have helped to ascertain which methods of processing were most successful. Other possible reasons include quality and security control during production.

St George Reverse
1887 - 1932


Arrows indicate position of mint marks

From 1887 gold sovereigns used the St George reverse exclusively, the mint mark can be found in the exergue* above the date on the reverse. There are 6 mint marks to be found and if one includes London with no mint mark, there is 7 different versions. The King George V series are the only coins to have been manufactured at all branches of the Royal Mint, however owing to dramatic changes in the world during this time, would ultimately be the last to carry mint marks. By 1932 all branches of the Royal Mint had ceased to manufacture sovereigns, later dates are all from the Royal Mint and have no mint mark.
*Exergue - The bottom area of a coin or medal, used to give the date, value or country etc, usually separated from the fields by a line

Sydney
S
1887 - 1926

Melbourne
M
1887 - 1931


Perth
P
1899 - 1931


Ottawa
C
1908 - 1919


Bombay
I
1918


Pretoria
SA
1923 - 1932


London
No Mint Mark
1887 -
For reasons unknown there is a departure from tradition in the case of the Ottawa, Bombay and Pretoria sovereigns.
Mint marks formerly carried the initial of the city of manufacture, but these carry the initial(s) of their country instead. In the case of Pretoria it can be easily understood as "P" was already in use by Perth, however for the others it is unclear why this was done.


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