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Friday, 13 June 2014

140) Gold Half-Sovereigns struck in 2014 by MMTC – PAMP in India for the first time ever, under licence from the Royal Mint, U.K.:

140) Gold Half-Sovereigns struck in 2014 by MMTC – PAMP in India for the first time ever, under licence from the Royal Mint, U.K.:

The Sovereign is the flagship coin of the Royal Mint UK, which is recognized globally as a commemorative coin of the utmost craftsmanship and accuracy.

The Royal Mint, UK:

The Royal Mint, UK is one of the World’s oldest organizations, with an unbroken history of minting British coinage from about 900 AD onwards.

Thus, for over 1100 years, the Royal Mint has been entrusted by the British monarchy and government with the coinage of Britain and it has a reputation for integrity and accuracy. The Royal Mint has at its disposal the latest techniques and technology which go into minting coins of extremely good quality.

The Half–Sovereign historical development over the centuries:
The Half–Sovereign is an English and British gold coin with a face value half that of a Sovereign and equivalent to half a pound sterling or ten shillings or 120 old pence.

The “old gold Sovereigns” were minted for the first time in 1489, however, the Half–Sovereigns were minted for the first time  only in 1544, during the reign of King Henry VIII. The Half–Sovereigns historically follow a similar pattern to that of the Full Sovereign and the design has traditionally been a smaller version of the full Sovereign.

The Half–Sovereign was then struck for Edward VI and for most monarchs until the first coinage of James I. From James’ second coinage, the  Half–Sovereign was issued up to and including the year 1604.

With the introduction of regular machine made “milled” coinage under Charles II, the “Half–Guinea” was introduced with an original value of ten shillings which later stood revised to ten schillings and sixpence.

As such, after 1604, the issue of gold Half–Sovereigns along with gold Sovereigns was discontinued until 1817 when it was re-introduced during the Great Recoinage Programme involving British coinage powered by the Industrial Revolution. The Royal Mint shifted from the Tower of London to a new premises near Tower Hill and acquired powerful new steam powered coining presses designed by Matthew Boulton and James Watt. The “modern” gold Half–Sovereign was minted on these powerful coining presses.

Half–Sovereigns issued from 1544 to 1604 are classified as “old Half–Sovereigns” while those minted from 1817 onwards are classified as “modern Half–Sovereigns”.

The modern Half–Sovereign has the face value exactly half of that of a Sovereign or a face value equal to half a pound sterling.

Like the modern gold Sovereign, the modern gold Half – Sovereign has been issued regularly beginning with 1817 during the reign of King George III, like the Full Sovereigns.

A point to note is that, while, the Gold Sovereign since 1817, portrayed St. George slaying the dragon design made by Benedetto Pistrucci on the reverse, the modern Half–Sovereigns since their first minting in 1817, depicted a crowned shield in various designs.
 From the introduction of the Jubilee Head issues of Queen Victoria in 1887, the St. George and the dragon design of Pistrucci was adopted for the Half – Sovereigns as well and this design has continued on the reverse ever since.

Briefly, in 1915, the production of the Half – Sovereigns stopped during World War I, however other Branch Mints of the Royal Mint continued to strike Half–Sovereigns viz. Sydney until 1916, Perth Mint Australia until 1920 and Pretoria until 1926.

Until 1926, production of the gold Half–Sovereign was discontinued, and, thereafter, except for special issues brought out during the coronation of monarchs, this coin was not minted (Collector’s issues for Edward VIII ascension in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 are such examples). Thus, 1926 was the last year when the half bullion gold coin was issued for circulation.

For example, the 1980 Half – Sovereigns were minted in limited numbers and have become extremely valuable for collectors.  Again, between 1983 and 1999, limited editions were minted and after 2000 the number of coins minted stayed scarce, with the result that the value of the Half – Sovereign has been consistently appreciating as Collector’s items especially when it is combined with appreciation in gold values.

In 1980, the minting of the Half–Sovereign was again restarted mainly in limited numbers as a Collector’s piece.  In 1980 and 1982, a proof version of the Half – Sovereign was issued and continues to be struck ever since.

After the abolition of the gold standard, the Half–Sovereign has been issued by the Royal Mint UK only in limited numbers as a commemorative coin with a sale and resale value far in excess of its face value. The half versions of the Sovereign bullion gold coins are just as valuable and a great investment opportunity for coin collectors.

In 1989, a special 500th Anniversary commemorative design was struck, inspired by the very first gold Sovereign of 1489.

From 2000 onwards, the Royal Mint produces two versions of the Half - Sovereign - an ordinary bullion grade coin and a proof edition.

The Royal Mint UK still sells Half Sovereigns struck between 1981 and 1994. Depending on the mintages, the Half Sovereign costs different amounts at the Royal Mint UK. For example, the 1985 and 1986 coins cost GBP 192.00 per piece. On the other hand, the Half – Sovereign struck in 1990 sells at the Royal Mint UK for GBP 314.00 per piece, while the Half–Sovereign struck in 1994 comes for GBP 247.00 per piece.

 The 2014 gold Half–Sovereign retails for GBP 195.00 and only 2000 single pieces are available for booking in this year’s edition.

In other words, the Half – Sovereign minted by MMTC–PAMP in India for the first time ever in 2014 presents the same product at an attractive price of around Rs.11200/- and it comes with an “I” mint mark, as well.

The 2014 Half Sovereign minted by MMTC-PAMP in India for the first time ever:

The 2014 Half–Sovereign minted by MMTC – PAMP is crafted as a coin of distinction following in the tradition of its illustrious predecessor the Sovereign which was reminted in 2013 for the first time after 1918, in India, when Mumbai Mint was declared a Branch of the Royal Mint, London.

Interestingly, since 1918, the Indian public has had little option but to rely mostly on imitation Sovereigns as these coins are much in demand in wedding ceremonies and family celebrations. Thus, the Gold Sovereign is the most replicated coin in India.

Now for the first time in India, one can also buy a Half-Sovereign with the assurance that it is a genuine coin.

The Trial of Pyx:
Interestingly, one of the most important dates in the Royal Mint calendar is the date set for the “Trial of Pyx”. This trial denotes a judicial ceremony dating far back to the twelfth century. From 1870 onwards, the Trial takes place every year at the “Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths”, the purpose of the Trial being to check that the coins minted in that year conform to the standards required by Law.

The name “Pyx” refers the the chests in which the coins are transported and derives from the Pyx chamber in Westminster Abbey where historically the coin chests are kept.

Since the reign of Henry III, the procedure has remained, more or less, the same. Sample coins are set aside throughout the year and early the following year the sample coins are delivered to a jury set up under the charge of the Queen’s Remembrancer. The Jury usually has important personalities from the financial community and at least six assayers from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths and it has two months to test that the coins are within the statutory limits for metallic composition, weight and size, the benchmark being the trial plates provided by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory of the DTI.

The Trial then reconvenes and the Queen’s Remembrancer asks the Jury for its verdict. The Delivery of the Verdict is often given in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is subsequently published in the London Gazette.

MMTC – PAMP struck Sovereigns & Half–Sovereigns and the Trial of Pyx:
All the Sovereigns and Half – Sovereigns struck in India use original dies and tools made by the Royal Mint in South Wales in the UK and the coins are minted with the same skills and expertise in India as in the UK.

In addition, the quality of the Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns minted in India by MMTC – PAMP also undergoes the Trial of Pyx in the same manner as the coins minted by the Royal Mint UK, thereby providing an assurance that these coins have been struck to the exact specifications of the Royal Mint, UK.

Further, the joint venture of MMTC – PAMP (PAMP of Switzerland) in India has at its disposal India’s only state of the art precious metals refineryaccredited by London Bullion Market Association (LBMA), the global benchmark for assurance.

The Gold Half-Sovereign Coin:
Incidentally, PAMP is one of only three refineries in the world accredited as Good Delivery Referee by both the LBMA and London Platinum & Palladium Market (LPPM). Thus all aspects of quality and purity of these Sovereigns and Half – Sovereigns by MMTC – PAMP are assured.

The Half - Sovereigns minted by MMTC-PAMP, India (a collaboration of MMTC of India and PAMP of Switzerland) come serially numbered in stylized coin cards. For example, this coin card is serially numbered as “02114”, indicating that it has been minted in the first lot of Half – Sovereigns minted by MMTC - PAMP.
  Nevertheless, with the number of outlets being limited to a few cities and meagre coin distribution among the authorized dealers, there is not much awareness about this coin having been minted for the first time in India under licence from the Royal Mint, UK.

The inscription carried on the coin card on this face carries a Certificate of Authenticity which reads: “The Sovereign is the flagship coin of the Royal Mint, recognised globally as a commemorative coin of the utmost craftsmanship and accuracy. Every coin in the Sovereign 2014 series is a coin of distinction and the 2014 Half–Sovereign struck in 22 carat gold is a wonderful example of this golden classic, trusted and admired the World over. The Sovereign is steeped in Indian history first used as a coin in everyday circulation and then first struck there in 1918. The 2014 Half–Sovereign recalls the golden age of the Sovereign.

This authentic Royal Mint Sovereign is manufactured under licence by MMTC-PAMP INDIA PVT. LTD. at Rojka-Meo Industrial Estate, District Mewat, Haryana, India”, signed by The Deputy Master, Chief Executive of the Royal Mint Limited. U.K. in the year 2014.


 The Reverse of the Gold Half–Sovereign contained in a stylized coin card issued by MMTC-PAMP in India. The coin card shows an image of St. George with a flowing cloak and helmet with a streamer, slaying the dragon with a sword, his broken lance lies on the ground to the lower left.The “I” mint mark is engraved in the centre of the mound representing that this coin has been made in India. The initials of the reverse coin designer “BP” (Benedetto Pistrucci) appear below the right hand side of the mound. On the coin card is mentioned “The Half–Sovereign 2014”.
 Pistrucci’s design of St. George is strongly reminiscent of the marble relief sculptures which were part of the ornamental frieze which decorated the Parthenon in Athens, which showed some 400 human figures and 200 animals taking part in a lively procession. The horsemen in this frieze provide a realistic impression of movement, their face and body expressions conveying skill and confidence as they keep their horses under firm control. Pistrucci’s design of St. George shows a naked Roman horseman mounted on a Parthenon-style horse, with the horse adopting an aggressive attitude towards the wounded dragon, yet effortlessly kept in check by St. George.

The Obverse of the Gold Half–Sovereign contained in the coin card. It shows an image of the Queen facing right. There is a finely toothed border within twin concentric circles and raised rim on both sides. The initials of the designer of the obverse side image are below the neck of the bust.
. The peripheral inscription is “ELIZABETH.II. DEI.GRA. REGINA.FID.DEF.” (MEANING “Elizabeth II, By the Grace of God Queen, Defender of the Faith). Below the Queen’s neck on her portrait are the initials “IRB” (standing for Ian Rank-Broadley, the designer of this Queen’s portrait).

The specifications of the 2014 UK Half-Sovereign are :
Denomination: Half Sovereign; Issuing Authority: The Royal Mint UK;

Gold Fineness: 0.9167 Au or 91.67% purity, with the gold being alloyed with copper (22 carat);

Weight: The weight of gold used in manufacturing the Half–Sovereign is 3.6575 gms or 0.1176 troy ounces of gold and the overall weight of the Half Sovereign is 3.994 gms;

Size/ Diameter: 19.30 mm;

Obverse Designer: Ian Rank–Broadley; Reverse Designer: Benedetto Pistrucci;

Coin quality: Bullion.
About Benedetto Pistrucci (20.05.1783 – 16.09.1855), the famous reverse designer of the St. George slaying the Dragon image:

He was a distinguished Italian gem engraver who held the position of Chief Medalist and was a coin engraver at the Royal Mint in England. He could not be appointed as the Chief Engraver, despite being more than competent for the Post, because of his foreign origin. Nevertheless, the Royal Mint reached a compromise by appointing a native to the post of Chief Engraver and giving the assignment of Chief Medallist to Pistrucci in 1828.

The massive Recoinage programme was carried out by the Royal Mint, which minted standard gold Sovereigns, circulating crowns and half crowns depicting the famous image of St. George slaying the Dragon by Benedetto Pistrucci.

The design created by Benedetto Pistrucci is regarded as a masterpiece of numismatic Art and an icon appreciated by collectors and art lovers across the world. This by now familiar design has come to symbolize the Sovereign and the Half – Sovereign the World over.

(The “Sovereign” and "Half - Sovereign" are gold coin of the United Kingdom named after the English Gold Sovereign, which was last minted in 1604. The name of this coin was revived with the Great Recoinage of 1816).

Minting of new Sovereigns began in 1817. Sovereigns were minted in the U.K from 1817 to 1917, 1925 and from 1957 onwards apart from being minted in Australia, India, Canada and South Africa among others.

Pistrucci made the dies for the coinage from 1817 onwards. The Crowns were issued in 1818, 1819 and 1820. Meanwhile, Sovereigns bearing the St. George & the Dragon design appeared from 1817-1820, as did half-sovereigns. In addition, in 1820, he engraved a George III Five Pound piece, of which only 25 pieces were initially minted, but upon the passing away of the King, quite a few more were minted by the Royal Mint, U.K.  

Pistrucci also engraved the early coins of George IV’s reign which included double sovereigns (in 1823), Half Sovereigns (1821, 1823-25), Crown (1821-22) Pattern Crown etc.

Pistrucci stopped working on coinage in 1825, but continued working as a Medallist till 1849. He is well known for the coronation medal of King George IV, the silver seal for the Duchy of Lancaster and his most famous medal the “Waterloo Medal” which took him over thirty years to complete.

20 Pound silver coins containing the image of St. George and the Dragon were issued in 2013, by the Royal Mint UK for the first time bearing the famous design of Benedetto Pistrucci, as a celebratory gesture commemorating the birth of Prince George.

The legendary tale of St. George slaying the dragon is the common subject for the design on both the gold Sovereigns and Half Sovereigns and more recently, the design featured on the twenty GBP silver coin brought out in 2013 by the Royal Mint UK, for the first time ever.

For more on the legends of St. George slaying the dragon, please click on the following link:(Gold Sovereigns minted in India for the first time by MMTC - PAMP in 2013 & 2014)

(This Half-Sovereign has been brought for my collection by Jayant Biswas from MMTC-PAMP's Franchisee SCHIL based in Mumbai. Coin images scanned and article researched and written by Rajeev Prasad).


British Crown Dependencies:

1) Specimen Banknotes from the States of Jersey

2) Coinage and Currency from the States of Jersey

3) Currency & Coinage of the Bailiwick of Guernsey

4) Currency & Coinage of Gibraltar : An Overseas Territory of Great Britain

5) Coinage of Gibraltar: (A British Overseas Territory): An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by the Tower Mint, UK in 2010
6) The Isle of Man: An Uncirculated Decimal Coin Collection Set minted by Pobjoy Mint, UK in 2015

7) The Centenary of the ill-fated Titanic (15.04.1912 - 15.04.2012): An Alderney Five Pound Coin Commemorating the Maritime Legend

8) "Man of Steel": A Superman Movie: A set of stamps brought out in 2013 by Jersey post, the States of Jersey, commemorating Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill who played Superman in the Movie

9) Coins & Currency of Bermuda

10) The Bailiwick of Jersey - Presently circulating coinage - Pounds and Pence 

11) St. Helena & Ascension Islands: An Uncirculated Coin Set from 2003 

12) The Legend of the "HMAV Bounty" is interwoven with the heritage of the Pitcairn Islands: An uncirculated coin set from Pitcairn Islands in 2009 depicting the icons/relics of the Bounty minted by the New Zealand Mint 

Famous Battles

1) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to St. Helena: (Part I): A One Crown Commemorative coin issued by the Ascension Island (minted by Pobjoy Mint UK) 

2) Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo and Napoleon's Exile to st. Helena: (Part II) 1) A 5 GBP Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK. 2) A"Drie Landen Zilverset" ( ot the "Three Lands Silver set") containing coins issued by the Royal Dutch Mint including coins of Netherlands, Belgium and UK

3) Commemorating the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain by issuing a 50 Pence coin by the Royal Mint UK

Gold Coins:
1) Gold Sovereigns issued in 2013 & 2014 by MMTC-PAMP in India under licence from the Royal Mint, UK, carrying the "I" Mint Mark

2) Gold Half-Sovereigns minted by MMTC-PAMP in India in 2014 under licence from the Royal Mint UK bearing the "I" Mint Mark 

Silver Coins:

1) A 20 Pound Silver coin minted for the first timr by the royal Mint UK: reverse design carries the famous St. George slaying the dragon design found on Gold Sovereigns 

British India Coinage:

 1) East India Company Quarter Anna Copper Coin which is one of the first issues under the Coinage Act 1835

2) Victoria Coinage: When she was Queen and afterwards Empress

3) Edward VII: King & Emperor  Coinage

4) George V King Emperor Coinage

5) George VI: The last of the British India Emperors Coinage 

Other British Royalty: 

1) Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations (1952-2012): A Five Pound Commemorative coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK

2) Commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation in 1953: A Five Pound Coin minted by the Royal Mint UK in 2013, depicting the Imperial State Crown

3) The Royal Coat of Arms of the UK: Great British 2012 Coin Set (Uncirculated) issued by the Royal Mint UK

4) Prince George's Christening Ceremony celebrated with coins issued by the Royal Mint UK in 2013

5) The British Empire:  A Case of Numismatic "segregation": (Guest Post by Rahul Kumar)

6) 1) The Portrait Collection: Various Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II on Coinage 2) The Fourth & Final Circulating coinage of the Portrait designed by Ian Rank-Broadley and the First Edition of the portrait of the Queen made by Jody Clark

 British Coinage:

1) The contribution of the Great British One-Pound coins in keeping alive the historical legends/emblems/heritage of the UK (1983 onwards)

2) Transformation of a Five shilling Coin (Crown) into the UK Twenty-five Pence & then the Five Pound Coin

3) Transformation of the Two Shilling Coin (Florin) Coin into the UK Ten Pence

4) The 350th Anniversary of the Guinea: A Two Pound Coin issued by the Royal Mint UK celebrating the milestone

 Commemorative British Coinage:

 1) Commemorating the Bicentenary of Charles Dickens: A Two pound coin celebrating his literary contributions during the Victorian Era

 2) Commemorating 50 Years of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) - presently called the World Wide Fund for Nature by issue of a Fifty Pence coin by the Royal Mint, UK

3) Coins commemorating London Olympics & Paralympics (2012)

4) Commemorating 150 Years of the London Underground : Two pound Coins minted by the Royal Mint UK, showing the "Roundel" logo and a train emerging from a tunnel 

5) Commemorating the 100th Birth anniversary of Christopher Ironside with his" Royal Arms" design on a 50 Pence coin issued by the Royal Mint, UK 

6) 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta - the Universal Guidepost to Liberty and Freedom

Inspirations from Scottish History: 

1) The Legend of King Bruce & the Spider on Banknotes

Banknotes from Scotland:
1) Commemorating Sir William Arrol and his creation the Forth Rail Bridge by issues of Britain's first ever 5 Pound Polymer Banknote


  1. Ravi Agarwala has commented:
    "Can the general public get hold of some of these?"

  2. Yes, of course. Go to the MMTC-PAMP website and to the "Where to buy" section. You will find a lot of dealers who are franchisees. Give the closest one a call and find out if they has some coins in stock. Mostly three to five coins are distributed all over India per dealer, at a time, depending on their sales assessment.

  3. Hey there, good read. I am curious... do you know if there are 2015 and 2016 half-sovereigns? And also a 2016 full sovereign? Cheers!

    1. I have written some time ago to SCHIL, Mumbai requesting them to let me know whether the half Sovereign was issued in 2015 & 2016 as well as the 2016 Sovereign. Still waiting for their response.

    2. Thanks so much. Your blog is very informative. Keep it up!

    3. Stock Holding Corporation of India Mumbai have responded today mentioning that they have a few 2015 Sovereigns but have no stock of Half Sovereigns after 2014. Apparently, 2016 issues have not been made, because if I remenber correctly, MMTC-PAMP India has got a 3 year licence from 2013 to 2015 from the Royal Mint UK. Is I spot 2016 Indian issues being marketed at the Royal Mint website, then we will have to renew our hunt for other locations in India which are retailing these coins.

  4. Oh thanks for the information. I didn't know that this was a 3 year only license.

    I too haven't seen any 2016 sovereigns which is why I asked you since you seem very knowledgeable about this. And it does look like 2014 was the only year that a half sovereign was released.

    I'd be curious to know what the mintages of the 2013, 14, 15 full sovereigns and the 2014 half sovereign are. I'll see if I can contact them to find out.

    1. The Half Sovereign was struck in 2014 and was part of an additional licence given that year. So these were the first ones struck in India. I was just confirming from SHCIL whether the coin was minted again in 2015 & 2016, to which I have received a somewhat unclear answer. Please do let me know, in case you come to know.

    2. Sure I'll let you know if I find out anything. I saw a youtube comment from someone who said there was a 2015 half sovereign, but I wonder if that person was mistaken.

  5. Hey, I managed to get some new information the Royal Mint...

    Apparently, they have a 5-year licensing agreement with MMTC-PAMP, so we should see Full Sovereigns through 2017.

    However, there has only been a 2014 Half Sovereign so far. I do not know if there will be a 2017 Half Sovereign or not.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing. Will find out more on this. Would like to collect more issues whenever we get to know . Will also let you know.

    2. You're welcome.

      Also, I managed to get a "special" edition of the 2013 Full Sovereign that was (I believe) given out to some special guests at the launch of the new sovereign program.

      It comes in a wooden box with a felt interior and a different certificate of authenticity. The coin itself is graded GEM UNCIRCULATED by NGC and comes in its own inert plastic case.


    3. Wow!! That is indeed a rare acquisition.congrats. hope we get leads on this year's montages. Travelling on out station exigencies at the moment. Will try and find out on returning.