1880 Gold Sovereign London

The 1880 Gold Sovereign - London

Gold Sovereign minted by the Royal Mint in London in 1880 during the reign of Queen Victoria. 22 carat gold.

There are a number of variations in 1880. The horse may have a short or long tail. The engravers initials (BP - Benedetto Pistrucci) may or may not be on the right of the date, and the BP font may be very small. In 1880, gold sovereigns were also minted in Sydney and Melbourne and they produced both St George and Shield Reverses. SCBC: 3856 (and variations A-F).

The Reverse of the 1880 Gold Sovereign depicts Benedetto Pistrucci’s famous portrayal of St George slaying the dragon.

These coins are available (subject to stock) from the Royal Mint Shop (product code HISV1880F).

Queen Victoria’s young head can be seen on the Obverse of the 1880 Sovereign. Designed by William Wyon RA, you can find the initials 'WW' on the truncation of the neck.

Image credit: The Royal Mint

Mintage: 3,650,080 (may include coins in sets)
Minted at The Royal Mint.
Remember 1880 ?
UK: Monarch is Queen Victoria. Prime Minister is Benjamin Disraeli (Conservative), but on 23 April it is William Ewart Gladstone (Liberal). Great fogs continue to engulf London. Greenwich Mean Time adopted as the legal standard. First Boer War starts.
USA: President is Rutherford B. Hayes (R-Ohio). It the United States Census year and the population is counted as 50,155,783. Wabash, Indiana becomes the first city lit by electric lighting in the world. The University of Southern California (USC) opens and has 53 students, it is the oldest private research University in California.
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 1880 Gold Sovereign London 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 1880 Gold Sovereign London 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 1880 Gold Sovereign London, 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:
1880 Gold Full Sovereign - London Mint - M91C
1880 Gold Full Sovereign - London Mint - M91C
£ 485.00
1880 Full Gold Sovereign London Mint Certified & Graded PCGS AU55 Short Tail
1880 Full Gold Sovereign London Mint Certified & Graded PCGS AU55 Short Tail
£ 465.00
Full Sovereign 1880 Victoria YH Gold Coin London Mint "George" AU50 8g.917 NO BP!
Full Sovereign 1880 Victoria YH Gold Coin London Mint "George" AU50 8g.917 NO BP!
£ 459.02

List of items on: