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The first Sovereign Gold Coins were struck in October 1489 under the reign of King Henry VII. The first Sovereign Gold Coins were the largest and most valuable gold coins circulating in England at the time. The obverse of the first coins featured a portrait of Henry VII on the royal throne wearing his coronation crown. The reverse of the coin displayed the royal coat of arms, a double rose that symbolized the union of York and Lancaster.
The tradition and practice of having the royal mint produce sovereign coins containing a portrait of the reigning monarch continued until James I was crowned King of England and Scotland.
After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, a new Gold Sovereign coin was introduced with the value of 20 shillings. The new gold coin, first minted in 1817, featured an image of St George slaying a dragon on the reverse.