1866 Gold Sovereign – Victoria

The 1866 Gold Sovereign - Victoria

Gold Sovereign of Queen Victoria. You can see the die number on the reverse in the space below the wreath (on this coin die is number 45). SCBC: 3853.

There is a variant with an overdate of 6/5.

The Reverse is a shield by Jean Baptise Merlen.

The edge is milled.

The Obverse, by William Wyon, shows a portrait of Queen Victoria, Young Head.

Image Credit: The Royal Mint.

Mintage: 4,047,288 (may include coins in sets)
Minted at The Royal Mint.
Remember 1866 ?
In the UK, the Monarch is Queen Victoria. Prime Minister is John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (Liberal) until 28th June and after a vote of no-confidence it became Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby (Conservative). The London Fire Brigade is formed as The Metropolitan Fire Brigade.  W. G. Grace (aged 18) scores 224 not out for the All-England cricket team against Surrey at the Oval. Cadbury's start to sell cocoa as a drink.
In the USA, the President is Andrew Johnson (D-Tennessee), who formally declares the Civil War over. The U.S. Congress approves the minting of a nickel 5-cent coin, replacing the half dime. Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant becomes the first to have this rank of the first General of the Army (equivalent to a modern 5-star General).
Victoria (1837-1901)
Victoria was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she adopted the additional title of Empress of India. Victoria ruled for 64 years, a record only recently surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II.
Victoria's parents were Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathern, and Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. She married Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who later became known as Prince Albert. Victoria had nine children, the eldest son succeeding her as Edward VII.

Victoria posed for a number of head portraits, but there are generally three major variants: Young Head (1838-1887) by William Wyon, RA; Jubilee Head (1887-1893) by Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm and Old Head (1893-1901) by by Sir Thomas Brock.

General Description: Sovereigns
The 1866 Gold Sovereign - Victoria is an example of the Gold Sovereign and is one of the most ubiquitous of all coins and much sought after by both coin collectors and bullion investors. Sovereigns have been minted since 1817 (in Britain 1817-1917, 1925 and 1957 on). At coins fairs you often hear the dealers refer to these coins as Sovs.

Besides being minted in Britain, Sovereigns have been made in Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Perth), India (then Bombay, now Mumbai), Canada (Ottowa) and South Africa (Pretoria) although these regional mints have not made sovereigns since 1932. The non-British coins carry a small mintmark ('S','M','P','I','C' or 'SA') just above the date. This 1866 Gold Sovereign - Victoria was minted at The Royal Mint.

The Obverse is the Monarch's head (Victoria) and the Reverse is most often St George and the Dragon, although other backs have been used and are of interest to collectors. The Reverse often gives the Sovs a new term, like "ShieldBacks".

Specifications for the Gold Sovereign
  • Weight: 7.9881g
  • Diameter: 22.05 mm
  • Thickness: 1.52 mm
  • Purity: 22 carat = 91.67% (11/12ths gold, 1/12th copper. Adding copper makes the coin more scratch and dent resistant)
  • Gold Content: 113 grains = 7.3224 g = 0.2354 troy ounce
  • Face value: £1 = 20 shillings
  • Monarch: Victoria


Up until 1604 there was a coin called the English gold sovereign and in 1816 when there was the "Great Recoinage" the name was revived. At that time standard gold (22 carat) was valued at £46 14s 6d per troy pound; this meant a £1 coin needed to weigh 123.2744783 grains or 7.988030269 g. The weight is still the same today.

As a historical note: to maintain the Gold Standard, in 1816 the value of silver was set at 66 shillings for one troy pound and silver coins were only legal for denominations up to £2.

The first sovereigns carried the head of King George III and the famous George and the Dragon design by Benedetto Pistrucci (29 May 1783 – 16 September 1855), an Italian engraver who became chief medallist at the Royal Mint.

With high value coins such as the 1866 Gold Sovereign - Victoria, collectors and bullion investors often worry about forgeries but actually gold coins are very difficult to forge due to gold's unique properties of density and colour. Gold is extremely dense and to use another metal and gold-plate it would result in a coin that is under-weight, over-diameter or half as thick, something that would be spotted very easily. More difficult to spot would be a bullion coin melted down and re-cast as a highly collectable date, but an expert can usually tell these too. You should always use reputable dealers.

Which Mint: The Royal Mint
The Royal Mint is the designated place for the UK to mint coins. It dates back well over 1000 years and is a Government-owned company. 

Formed in the reign of Alfred the Great about the year 886, during the period 1279-1812 it was generally referred to as The Tower Mint as it was housed at the Tower of London. The Master of The Royal Mint has included famous figures such as Sir Isaac Newton.

Since 2010 it has operated as Royal Mint Ltd, a company owned by HM Treasury, under an exclusive contract to supply all coinage for the UK although it also produces medals and coins for other countries. It is currently located at Llantrisant, Wales.

There is also an on-line shop at The Royal Mint Shop.
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
The United Kingdom (UK) is the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is often refered to as Great Britain (GBR). It has a long, rich history.

The orignal coinage was Pounds, Shillings and Pence but since decimalisation on 15 February 1971, it is £1 = 100p, that is One Pound = 100 pence. The coinage of the UK is also a long history, the Royal Mint being established as long ago as 886AD when coins were hammered. Today there is perhaps 30 billion coins in circulation, and many (numismatic) collectors coins and sets are issued frequently in gold, silver and other metals.
If you don't see a coin in the list below try the Sovereigns page on eBay UK

List of items on:

UK On eBay UK:
1866SY Australia Queen Victoria Gold Sovereign MS60
1866SY Australia Queen Victoria Gold Sovereign MS60
£ 695.00
Victoria YH Shieldback Full Gold Sovereigns various dates 1842-84 shield reverse
Victoria YH Shieldback Full Gold Sovereigns various dates 1842-84 shield reverse
£ 499.99
£ 595.00
Great Britain 1866 Gold 1 Sovereign Shield AU Victoria
Great Britain 1866 Gold 1 Sovereign Shield AU Victoria
£ 528.89
1866, Australia, Queen Victoria. Rare Gold 1/2 Sovereign Coin. (3.9gm!) NGC F15!
1866, Australia, Queen Victoria. Rare Gold 1/2 Sovereign Coin. (3.9gm!) NGC F15!
£ 536.21

List of items on: