An interesting question, which is pretty much impossible to give a 100% accurate answer. However, we’re happy to make an educated guess at how many gold sovereigns have been minted!
We’ve done some quick calculations and based on our mintage figures for bullion and proof sovereigns, we estimate that (at the time of writing this post) around 1,158,294,408 sovereigns have been minted.
If you could stack that many coins on top of each other, your coin tower would be over 1,150 miles high! Now we know this figure isn’t going to be 100% accurate. For a start, during certain years, a small number of proof coins were minted for which we don’t have the figures (1817, for example). We’ve also only counted full gold sovereigns. Maybe in another article, we’ll include quarters, halves, doubles and crowns! It’s also worth remembering that when sovereigns were in general circulation, the practice of re-coining was employed. When a coin fell below its legal minimum weight, it was removed from circulation, melted down and re-struck as a new coin. Of course, many of these coins no longer exist. Sovereigns were used to settle government debt, with large quantities being shipped overseas. At their final destination, they would have been melted down.
One final interesting fact about the gold used for sovereigns; although many of the coins no longer exist, almost all of the gold that was used to mint them still does. Being a nobel metal, gold doesn’t oxidise, rust, corrode or tarnish. No single acid can dissolve or destroy gold, so in one form or other the gold is still around today – maybe in something you own!