George III Circulation New Gold Coin: the half-sovereigns
The half-sovereigns
Proof & pattern gold

The new half-sovereign was introduced in the same year as the new sovereign, 1817. The obverse was engraved by Pistrucci but the reverse was by William Wyon. This reverse consisted of the Ensigns Amorial of the United Kingdom in an angular, crowned shield. Marsh 2 described the weight of the coin as not less than 61.637 grains (3.99401g) and the fineness as 916.66 gold. He does not mention the initial diameter and edge thickness. Grueber notes the diameter as 0.7 inch (17.78mm). This is probably only meant as an approximate figure.



Obverse: right facing laureate head; legend, "GEORGIUS III DEI GRATIA"; the date is shown at the bottom of the coin.


Reverse: angular,crowned shield containing the Ensigns Armorial of the United Kingdom. The Hanoverian arms are at the centre. Legend, ".BRITANNIARUM REX FID: DEF:"


Spink state the die axis is ↑↓

Edge: Milled (grained)

The varieties

Unlike the George III sovereign series there are few significant design variations in the half-sovereign series. The main variation is the overdated 1817/8. There are some very minor variations in the alignment and spacing of the letters and numbers in the various legends but these have not been considered significant enough to be listed separately.

Year Notes Mintage Availability
1817 Type 14, (Marsh Coin 400; Spink S3786) 2,080,197 Common

The ANS database describes a coin of this date. It does not include an on-line image. The weight is 3.979g and the "size" 20, presumably mm. This diameter is larger than the expected standard.

Auction Results

DateConditionHammer Price
June 2002Minor surface marks in the obverse field, otherwise extremely fine; the obverse retains full brilliance.210
April 2004Extremely fine330
October 2004About extremely fine.240
October 2004Good extremely fine.400
May 2005Good very fine.260
September 2005A few light scratches in fields, red tone, extremely fine, proof like fields. 260
October 2005Extremely fine or better.270
1818 Type 15, (Marsh Coin 401, Spink S3786) 1,030,286 Common

Auction Results

DateConditionHammer Price
December 2004Slight surface marks, otherwise better than very fine.220
October 2005Slight scratch in front of face, small dig on reverse, otherwise good very fine.130
October 2005Good very fine.180
October 2005About extremely fine.300
1818 Type 16, variety with the obverse date last digit having an 8 over 7. (Marsh Coin 401A, Spink S 3786) included above Rare

Marsh stated that he only knew of nine examples of this variety. Certainly I have not been able to find any record of an example entering the market in the last three to four years.

1820 Type 18, (Marsh Coin 402, Spink S3786) 35,043 Scarce

The Schneider collection catalogue shows an 1820 half-sovereign with a weight of 3.99g. It was bought from Spink in 1962.

Auction Results

DateConditionHammer Price
March 2003About very fine.120
July 2003Nearly very fine80
May 2005Fine160
September 2005Series of light scratches near date, otherwise good very fine.120
October 2005Fine.100

The coin collector will find it relatively easy to find half-sovereigns of very fine and better condition for 1817, this becomes slightly more difficult for the main variety of 1818 coin, difficult for 1820 coins and almost impossible for the type 16, 1818 coin.

There are no published descriptions of any modern counterfeit George III half-sovereigns. There were relatively poor quality contemporary counterfeits produced but these should not trouble the collector. The careful numismatist will always be aware of the possibility of new counterfeit pieces emerging.

Latest revision May 2006

Robert Matthews 2006