The Royal Mint has released new gold Proof-quality coins which mark two significant anniversaries pertaining to the gold standard, a monetary system where a country’s currency in coin or paper money has a value directly linked to gold. With the gold standard, countries agreed to convert paper money into a fixed amount of gold and that fixed price was used to determine the value of the currency.
First written into law 200 years ago in 1821, the gold standard was originally a concept and proposition of Sir Isaac Newton, former master of the mint. Sir Isaac Newton issued a report more than 100 years earlier in 1717 that led to the gold guinea of 21 shillings being assigned a fixed value. Following Great Britain’s Coinage Act of 1816, which saw the introduction of new gold Sovereigns and silver shilling coins, Britain’s gold standard was adopted and became the first system of its kind in the world. Several countries with large economies soon followed the British lead, including Canada, the United States, and Germany. Backed by the newly revived Sovereign of 20 shillings, it became a global monetary system that remained in place for a little more than a century. It wasn’t until the outbreak of the First World War which resulted in the hoarding and subsequent removal of gold coins from general circulation. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill returned Britain to a gold standard in 1925 but it was abandoned permanently in 1931 — 90 years ago — as economic pressures mounted owing to the stock market crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. In the United States, President Roosevelt signed into law the Gold Reserve Act in January 1934, which prohibited the ownership of gold coinage, resulting in the public having to redeem gold coins for Federal Reserve notes and silver certificates.
Though the ownership of gold was permitted in the United Kingdom, gold Sovereign coins were no longer minted from 1932 and did not resume production again until 1957. They were available for their intrinsic value and held as gold assets mostly for private individuals. The prohibition on gold ownership in the United States was repealed after President Gerald Ford signed a bill legalising private ownership of gold coins, bullion, and certificates by an Act of Congress and which went into effect the 31st December 1974.
The coins are created by senior designer Dominique Evans. Following on from a bullion range that has been released previously by the Royal Mint, the same reverse design depicts scales to reflect the balance and precision of the gold standard. Above the primary design is the year of issue 2021, and below, the specifications denoting the coins’ weight and fineness.
The obverse side includes the fifth effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II created by engraver Jody Clark and introduced onto British coins in 2015. Included within the legend around the Queen’s likeness is the denomination of the coin — 25 POUNDS (quarter-ounce) or 100 POUNDS (one-ounce).
|7.8 g||22 mm||Proof||
|31.1 g||32.6 mm||Proof||
Each coin is encapsulated and presented in a custom hardwood polished case and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. A special anniversary set that pairs the quarter-ounce gold Proof coin commemorating the introduction of the gold standard with a 1931 Sovereign struck during the year that Britain finally left the system 90 years ago is available and specially presented in a two-coin format. For additional information about these coins and others available from the Royal Mint, please visit their website.