SOVEREIGN , originally anadjective, meaning " supreme," especially having supreme or paramount power . The word in
See also:English was soverain or sovereyn, and was taken through Old French from Low Latin superanus, chief,
See also:principal . The intrusive " g," which is due to a popular confusion of the termination of the word with " reign,"
See also:dates, according to
See also:Skeat, from about 1570 . The
See also:form " sovran," borrowed by Milton from
See also:Italian sovrano,
See also:soprano, is chiefly found as a poetical usage . As a substantive " sovereign " is applied to the supreme
See also:head of a state (see
See also:SOVEREIGNTY), and to the standard English gold
See also:coin, worth 20 shillings or £1 (see PGUND) . The gold sovereign was first struck in the reign of
See also:Henry VII . (1489); it was of gold of the standard fineness (994.8) and weighed 240 grains . Itbore the figure of the
See also:king crowned, in royal
See also:mantle, seated on the
See also:throne, and holding the
See also:sceptre and
See also:orb . The sovereign was coined in successive reigns until that of
See also:James I., when the name " unite " was given to the coin to mark the union of the two kingdoms . The gold coinage of the
See also:kingdom was, until 1816, a secondary
See also:part of the monetary
See also:system, but in that
See also:year the
See also:silver standard was discontinued and a •gold standard adopted . The sovereign was chosen the new unit of the currency, and the first issue took place in 1817 . Its
See also:weight was fixed at 123.274 grains; its fineness at 916.66 or twenty-two carats .
See also:standards of weight and fineness are those still in force . At the . same
See also:time was issued the
See also:half-sovereign, of weight in proportion . The weight of 9342 sovereigns is exactly
See also:equivalent to twenty Troy pounds, and the weight of each individual sovereign is calculated on this basis . The sovereign is eleven-twelfths pure gold and one-twelfth alloy, copper being usual . The
See also:colour of early Australian sovereigns was due to the use of silver instead of copper . Five-pound pieces were coined in the reigns of
See also:Victoria and
See also:Edward VII . They were also authorized in the reign of
See also:George III . (as were two-pound pieces), but the
See also:dies were not completed before the
See also:death of that sovereign . Specimens were, however, subsequently struck . There were also some
See also:pattern pieces struck in the reign of George IV . Two-pound pieces were issued in the reign of George IV.; they were struck in the reign of
See also:William IV., but not issued for circulation; they are current coins of the reigns of Victoria and Edward VII .
BARON MARQUIS DE COURTANVAUX GILLES DE SOUVREI
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