Gold sovereign coins were in circulation in Ireland and Britain until the early 1930s. Although no longer used, collectable issues continue to be produced by Britain’s Royal Mint. Sovereigns are popular with collectors and investors as gold coins are the easiest, and probably safest, way to invest in the precious metal.
A sovereign had an original face value of one pound. The coins first appeared in the 16th century but the “modern sovereign”, made of 22ct gold, dates from 1817. Antique sovereigns are often incorporated into jewellery – pendants, bracelets and rings – but the coins themselves are widely collected.
The average price at auction is linked to the current price of gold but an ordinary example generally sells for between €200 and €260 at auction. Some are rarer and more valuable. At John Weldon Auctioneers sale of silver, jewellery and gold coins on Tuesday (August 15th at 2pm) there's an early gold sovereign, featuring King William IV, dated 1833, estimated at €800-€1,200 (pictured above).
“The mintage for that year was about 1.2 million," says Weldon. "While that seems like a very large number – many in good condition have not survived and it must be compared with the likes of 1911 (King George V) when they minted over 40 million sovereigns worldwide.”
The auction also includes some interesting pieces of modern Irish silver bearing the special hallmarks approved by the Dublin Assay Office for 1966 (the 50th anniversary of the Rising), which depicts the Claíomh Solais (Sword of Light); and, 1973, to mark Ireland joining the European Economic Community (now the European Union), depicting the Gleninsheen collar, a Bronze-Age treasure in the National Museum of Ireland).
Among them: a five-piece silver tea and coffee service by William Egan of Cork, hallmarked Dublin 1973, total weight approx 2,967 grams, estimated at €1,500-€2,500 (pictured); a silver Éamon de Valera dinner plate, approx 550 grams, by Royal Irish, hallmarked Dublin 1973 (€200-€400); eight Irish silver liquor cups (short stem), approx 223 grams, by Bee Moynihan, hallmarked Dublin 1966 (€120-€180); and, an Irish silver sugar bowl, approx 235 grams, by Bee Moynihan, hallmarked Dublin 1966 (€120-€180).
Among the jewellery is a diamond cluster necklace, set in 18ct gold, with a valuation from Weir’s that states the value for insurance to be €18,000 and estimated at €5,000-€7,000; and, a diamond-set “Elton John” wristwatch by Chopard, one of limited edition of 2,000 pieces with a pink mother-of-pearl face, with a valuation from Weir’s of €11,600 that is estimated at just €2,500-€4,500 (pictured).
Overall, some 450 lots will go under the hammer. Viewing begins at noon today in the saleroom at Unit 2, The Music Hall, Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 8. See jwa.ie