Mints and Mint Marks

Welcome to our section on mintmarks, these only apply to sovereigns struck at branch mints located at 6 locations throughout the British Empire. Sovereigns struck at the British Tower Mint in London do not carry colonial mintmarks.

London : Victoria Shield Reverse Sovereign London : Victoria Die No Type Sovereign London : St Geo & Dragon Reverse Type Sovereign 


The discovery of large quantities of gold in the Australian colonies in the 1850's, led to the establishment of the Sydney Branch of the Royal Mint in 1855.The first 'Sydney Mint' sovereigns and half sovereigns issued by this mint were unique in the history of the British Empire. In a situation which has not been repeated since, the coins carried a design which was completely different from that of the standard British issue. By 1871, thestandard Shield and St. George designs had been decreed to be produced by the colonial mints. A small 'S' mintmark was placed below the shield to designate the Sydney Mint issues. On 'St. George' issues, the mintmark appeared on the Obverse below the bust.The Melbourne Mint commenced operations in 1872 ('M' mintmark) and Perth in 1899 ('P' mintmark). A Jubilee head design of Queen Victoria was placed on the obverse in 1887. Colonial 'S', 'M' and 'P' mintmarks for 'St. George' gold coins were moved to the reverse on the ground just above the date.

Sydney (S) : Victoria Shield Reverse Sovereign Melbourne (M) : Victoria Shield Reverse Sovereign Sydney (S) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign Melbourne (M) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign

 

In 1908 (Edward VII's reign), the Canadian Mint ('C' mintmark) at Ottawa began producing sovereigns. For a single year in 1918, the Indian Mint ('I' mintmark) at Bombay produced a sovereign. The last of the colonial mints to issue gold coins - Pretoria in South Africa ('SA' mintmark) - began producing sovereigns and half sovereigns in 1923 (George V's reign).

Perth (P) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign Ottawa (C) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign Bombay (I) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign  Pretoria (SA) : St G&D Reverse Type Sovereign

 

Britain's last circulating sovereign issues were dated 1925 and in 1932, the last of the colonial issues were minted in South Africa. A gold £5, £2 & Sovereign (£1) set was prepared for Edward VIII but his abdication on 10th December, 1936 ensured that they were never issued. Proof £5, £2, Sovereigns (£1) and Half Sovereigns (£½) were issued to commemorate the coronation of George VI in 1937. A small number were minted in 1953 for Elizabeth II's coronation but they were not issued for collectors. In 1957, Great Britain resumed the issue of sovereigns for the bullion and collector market. In 1989, 4 specially designed gold coins (£5, £2, £1 and £½) were issued to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Gold Sovereign.