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Sovereign 9999 gold?


Britannia47

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I bought my first proof sovereign in 1997. I was disappointed in the colour. I didn't look like a gold coin. Even today sovereigns use all copper alloy, making the coin look reddish. Is it time for an all-gold version of the sovereign? Here are my reasons for suggesting 'Yes!' and I do understand that Tradition is a hard opponent of the argument. Alloy was added to the sovereign to make it durable in circulation - we all know that, so no need for it now. The RM has to source or refine 91.7 gold just for the sovereign. The Brits changed to 9999 gold and introduced the 9999 QBs as well - both very successfully. In the U.S. the 9999 buffalo was born, but kept the 22ct Eagle.  The Krugerrand resisted 9999 gold. I believe the demand for world wide coinage has been shrinking, perhaps quickened by Covid19 lockdowns and use of cards. Thus the RM may be looking at the collectors and bullion markets to make up future shortfalls. A 9999 sovereign could be a world beater. Would it be a QB 1/4 spec coin or a larger 7.98g coin. I don't know. Why not call it 'The New Sovereign!'  I hear silent shouts of "absolutely not!" already, but feel entitled to this opinion after 24 years collecting sovereigns... Please be nice!

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I understand your point of view totally. I love and collect old British sovreigns mainly Victorian,yes the colours of these do differ depending on the percentage of additional alloys that have been added to make them more durable as they were day to day currency back in the day. Mainly a percentage of copper and you will see different shades of sovreigns throughout the years. With 24ct gold its less dense and susceptible to damage.  Drop a 24ct gold sovreign or any Bullion coin and chances are it will be damaged..dented or scratched so you have to treat it like a new born baby... I have a mixture of both, but if I buy a 24ct coin of any era,denomination I will never take it out of its omp or capsules..I can enjoy the coin without handling it..just goes in my storage trays....I treat all  PM's the same..whether its a bullion Silver coin or a 22-24ct  gold coin as I want to keep my investment in the best possible condition I can...I've seen collectors of silver bullion for example with no care..throwing them in tubes..or handling them with bare hands etc...but I treat every coin I purchase  the same I want them kept in the best condition I can..when it comes to the day I have to sell them...i want them in the best condition to get the best price. If a coin has been treated impropably throughout the years you have collected or stacked them..dont expect to get the best price you want..even if its just bullion......would you pay more for a mint coin or a coin with scratches,dents and milkspots...I know what I'd pay more for!!!

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8 minutes ago, Dan12345 said:

Alot of sovereigns look a rose gold colour to me which I don't like. I know alot of people love them but I struggle to find them as nice as other gold coins. 

Some of the older different designs are nice 

Each to the own I spose

The Rose gold colour is down to the copper percentage...as you know if the¬† the copper wasn't included the gold sovs of that era and later Edward V11,George¬†V etc.... would probably not exist today because they would have not sustained the years of being handled,exchanged as currency¬† and ended up damaged or worse just melted...thank god that didn't happen as we would not have the amount of sovreigns we do today...which would be a crying shame.. but as you say..each to their own....ūüôā

Regards

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Re dents and scratches I'm sure everyone would take care of their coins regardless of 24 or 22ct in the same way that their QBs have been cared for over the last 5 years. My proof and bullion QBs have! My latest suggestion, as an alternative to 24ct would be to add some bl...dy silver to the alloy. Look on the RM website - their sovereigns actually look PINK. I rest my case. Thought I would make a point with my 1817 and the 2017 photo re colour diffs.

IMG_E1110 (2).JPG

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Well 200 years between both of these coins and the way they were minted,stored and cared for obviously things are gonna change...the purity of the gold back then til the present day..minting techniques, the qualities of the die's and the advancement of technology polishing ,the many pastes they use now to make a Proof coin look like glass..not to mention the specialists who in turn add their own touches to the standard of bullion, Brilliant uncirculated and proofs that we can Purchase these days....well things move on like every industry....Time doesn't stand still for anyone and quality doesn't either...

 

Addendum:-

These days corners are cut,expectations are not what we expect..and profit takes presedence over quality to please the share holders and their bank balance....welcome to the "Greed culture"

Regards

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I don't think it is a good idea. A sovereign should be always 22ct, a credible gold grade for everyone.

Let's imagine that Royal Mint will decide to change the composition of sovereign from 2022 to 24k and because the appetite for sovereigns will decrease, will decide to change again from 2032 in 14k and from 2042 in 9k to make it more affordable for the poor people.  What will be the result? Everybody will search on a trade if is Pre22, Pre32, Pre42 or Post42.

Have you ever checked a bucket of old british currency full of 3pence and 6pence if are Pre20,  Pre47 or Post48? 

Let's all accept the sovereign as 22ct, doesn't matter the colour. Can be for me any kind of alloys, with silver, copper, antimony, zinc, or led, any non-radioactive metal, any colour from rainbow ūüĆą, but should have 91.67% Au.

I know, it is frustrating for a lot of collectors, but there are lots of other 9999 gold coins to stack.

Sorry if I've offended someone, it is only my personal opinion.

Stefan.

 

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1 hour ago, Britannia47 said:

Re dents and scratches I'm sure everyone would take care of their coins regardless of 24 or 22ct in the same way that their QBs have been cared for over the last 5 years. My proof and bullion QBs have! My latest suggestion, as an alternative to 24ct would be to add some bl...dy silver to the alloy. Look on the RM website - their sovereigns actually look PINK. I rest my case. Thought I would make a point with my 1817 and the 2017 photo re colour diffs.

IMG_E1110 (2).JPG

My grail Sovs right there¬†ūüėć

As for 9999 Au, they have been 22ct for over 200 years, I don't think the RM will ever change them and to be honest, I quite like the fact they haven't even though now a coin for collectors rather than being in circulation.

I do however consider that special mint years could be 24ct proofs such as the 2017 above or next years coin as examples.

Looking to complete a date run of Bu Sovs and still require; 2010, 2011, 2018 & 2019

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The whole point of a sovereign is that it is 916 / 1000 , it weights 7.98grams and it is 22.05mm in diameter.

If you change the composition you change the coin.

The Mint seem to favour copper these days over silver, and a lot of their coins are actually classified as Rose Gold.

Allgold Coins Est 2002 - Premium Gold Coin Dealer and Specialists :  

www.allgoldcoins.co.uk

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1 hour ago, CollectorNo1 said:

Well I doubt I will be alive in 2042 so if I can stack/collect as I have been and sell in the next 5-10 years and get my money back or even better make a profit.....I'm a happy camper..ūüôāūüôāūüôā

Some of us are hoping to be around by 2042,¬†I‚Äôll be in my 50‚Äôs granted. ūüė¨

I hope the sovereign stays as 22ct gold and I doubt the Royal Mint would ever change that. But never say never, it may change like everything else in this crazy world.

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O.K. I accept all the counter arguments, which outweigh my suggestion. Thank-you. The majority of my collection from 1817 onwards to the Gillick/Machin era are my prized possessions, particularly the Victorian shield backs and so on. They have all been in circulation. Its probably these real historical gold coins that most collectors value the most. They look and feel like sovereigns unlike todays offerings from the RM. The RM would do well to monitor the SF for its diverse opinions on the subject, not that it would take any notice. Using all copper alloy is a classic example. Obviously, some don't care what colour our sovereigns are as long as there is 91.7 % gold in there and a profit to be made. I accept this will not change, but what is the future for the sovereign? Sooner or later we will likely be looking at King Charles III (George VII?) or William V on the obverse of the coin. What colour will it be? These will undoubtedly be popular causing panic amongst the SF population. and be in the 'must have' category, not to just own but to get a NGC70, plus sleepless nights worrying about getting a 69! (just jesting!)

Thanks again for your comments so far. I'm just an old fashioned collector!

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I'm a staunch traditionalist, but I can see a market for 9999 sovereigns.

They'd have to be a different design though, or have it clearly marked, because as stated above, when you start having differing versions of the same thing it gets complex, just like looking up various silver standards used hitherto.

The beauty of the 22ct sovereign is that it's been consistent since 1817 (minus the colour issues).

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The hobby of coin collecting wouldn't have started and endured if it wasn't for the historical aspect, both of the coins and the era they originated from.

Gold sovereigns are the size, weight and composition that they are and have always been. If they changed, they wouldn't be gold sovereigns, as someone has previously stated. If anyone doesn't like their colour or whatever other physical attribute, simply don't collect them. That's all there is to it and is their personal choice. There are plenty of other coins to collect. The RM issue most other coins as .999 1/4 oz gold, so surely these should satisfy anyone who doesn't like the quirks of the sovereign?

Profile picture with thanks to Carl Vernon

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If size, weight and composition is all that matters, above appearance, then I agree that's a sovereign lovers choice. It would seem that the RM is belatedly calling its 22ct gold coins 'Rose gold' according to 'Allgoldcoins'. I thought that was the preserve of the jewellers trade. The reason I posted a comparative photo above was to show how far we have come in 200 years in terms of composition of the alloy; one minted for circulation, the other a proof destined for a capsule or sandwiched between two layers of locked plastic. The 2017 proof has great quality but I don't really like its appearance. (OK I bought 2 of them nevertheless) On the other hand the 1817 alloy has about equal mounts of copper and silver, with even a touch of Iron!  So you can see the 2017 doesn't really replicate the original. Also I noticed that the RM was economical with history, by excluding the initials of the Master of the Mint WWP - William Wellesley Pole. This was a joint project with Benedetto Pistrucci and would probably not have been minted otherwise. The initials were to be found on the belt buckle of the original. Briefly, this first design was not a success and probably within weeks the St George & Dragon was redesigned by replacing the spear handle which had broken with a sword, dramatically improving the whole image. This appeared the following year 1818 on the silver crown but the first image (only minted on the sovereign) carried on until 1820. This means that the iconic St George and Dragon with sword first appeared in 1821 George IV, thus 2021 is the real 200th anniversary! How about another commemorative? I digress. The other sovereign I found disappointing was the 2012 Paul Day depiction of St George' which Ironically I thought was as good as Pistrucci's, making excellent use of the space available. Well done Paul! but spoiled by the shiny surface (not just the colour!) which prevented me from identifying detail. A matt surface or proof would have done the trick. So that's another reason I don't like more modern sovereigns. My heart therefore rests with the earlier sovereigns. I remember having conversations with Michael Marsh about the first design many years ago, as others have I'm sure. His legacy will be around for a long time.  I accept that the Sovereign will stay as 22ct but just hope the RM would stop messing with it. Regards to you Sovereign Steve

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Best regards to you as well @Britannia47

So it seems you like your sovereigns but don't like the way the Mint are taking them in the last 20 years or so? I would agree 100%

Bullion sovereigns are not really collectable these days, totally ugly and boring. This is deliberate and why the Mint seems intent on pushing us down the proof route. I think we should stick to our interesting, historical sovsūüėä

Profile picture with thanks to Carl Vernon

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1 hour ago, Britannia47 said:

If size, weight and composition is all that matters, above appearance, then I agree that's a sovereign lovers choice. It would seem that the RM is belatedly calling its 22ct gold coins 'Rose gold' according to 'Allgoldcoins'. I thought that was the preserve of the jewellers trade. The reason I posted a comparative photo above was to show how far we have come in 200 years in terms of composition of the alloy; one minted for circulation, the other a proof destined for a capsule or sandwiched between two layers of locked plastic. The 2017 proof has great quality but I don't really like its appearance. (OK I bought 2 of them nevertheless) On the other hand the 1817 alloy has about equal mounts of copper and silver, with even a touch of Iron!  So you can see the 2017 doesn't really replicate the original. Also I noticed that the RM was economical with history, by excluding the initials of the Master of the Mint WWP - William Wellesley Pole. This was a joint project with Benedetto Pistrucci and would probably not have been minted otherwise. The initials were to be found on the belt buckle of the original. Briefly, this first design was not a success and probably within weeks the St George & Dragon was redesigned by replacing the spear handle which had broken with a sword, dramatically improving the whole image. This appeared the following year 1818 on the silver crown but the first image (only minted on the sovereign) carried on until 1820. This means that the iconic St George and Dragon with sword first appeared in 1821 George IV, thus 2021 is the real 200th anniversary! How about another commemorative? I digress. The other sovereign I found disappointing was the 2012 Paul Day depiction of St George' which Ironically I thought was as good as Pistrucci's, making excellent use of the space available. Well done Paul! but spoiled by the shiny surface (not just the colour!) which prevented me from identifying detail. A matt surface or proof would have done the trick. So that's another reason I don't like more modern sovereigns. My heart therefore rests with the earlier sovereigns. I remember having conversations with Michael Marsh about the first design many years ago, as others have I'm sure. His legacy will be around for a long time.  I accept that the Sovereign will stay as 22ct but just hope the RM would stop messing with it. Regards to you Sovereign Steve

I think if we knew the whole story from the Mint at that time it would make for somewhat of a soap opera. A fascination for me, is why the 1821 reverse St George Dragon with sword, still has the end of the broken lance laying on the ground, a feature which remains to this day? Of course the 1821 sovereign does carry the initials WWP just under the broken lance with B.P moved to the right of the date where it also remains today. It all kicked off in 1823 when Pistrucci refused to work Chantry's somewhat flattening effigy of George IV into a coin engraving for the new circulation £2 coin of that year. Jean Baptiste Merlen who took the job, and I think I am right in saying that although he designed many coins for the Mint it was the only one he actually got his initials on to? He went on to design all of the next generation sovereign shield reverses, but you won't see J.B.M on any of them.

The Royal Mint had Pistrucci paid up front a huge amount of money in 1819 to design a waterloo medal, so he basically stuck 2 fingers up at the mint who couldn't sack him, and again writing from memory I think he took 30 years to finish the medal, and then he sent a snotty letter to the Mint telling them what he thought of them. The piece itself is a work of art but it was stated that most of those who were actually due a Waterloo medal were dead...

Edited by Allgoldcoins

Allgold Coins Est 2002 - Premium Gold Coin Dealer and Specialists :  

www.allgoldcoins.co.uk

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10 hours ago, sovereignsteve said:

Best regards to you as well @Britannia47 

Bullion sovereigns are not really collectable these days, totally ugly and boring. This is deliberate and why the Mint seems intent on pushing us down the proof route.

Well to throw my two penny worth in here, slightly OT but it links with the general theme.

I used to collect coinage from change in the late 1990s/early 2000s, so I was there right at the beginning when I noticed a strange thing. The Maklouf designs came out of change shiny and new, the Broadley designs were always scuffed, no matter how early in their lives I'd managed to find them. Through the 2000s it got more noticeable.

ThenI read somewhere that they'd put a finish on the coins which scuffed easily.

No doubt an attempt to make people buy the mint sets instead, it was around the same time that the annual mint 'set' turned into the multitude of annual 'sets' of all differing types, and the time there was an explosion in commemorative coins.

I quit with decimal coins at this point.

Besides, I don't like proofs, I don't think they look good. I don't like the shiny, mirror like fields. I'm a matt man more than a gloss man.

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21 hours ago, Allgoldcoins said:

I think if we knew the whole story from the Mint at that time it would make for somewhat of a soap opera. A fascination for me, is why the 1821 reverse St George Dragon with sword, still has the end of the broken lance laying on the ground, a feature which remains to this day? Of course the 1821 sovereign does carry the initials WWP just under the broken lance with B.P moved to the right of the date where it also remains today. It all kicked off in 1823 when Pistrucci refused to work Chantry's somewhat flattening effigy of George IV into a coin engraving for the new circulation £2 coin of that year. Jean Baptiste Merlen who took the job, and I think I am right in saying that although he designed many coins for the Mint it was the only one he actually got his initials on to? He went on to design all of the next generation sovereign shield reverses, but you won't see J.B.M on any of them.

The Royal Mint had Pistrucci paid up front a huge amount of money in 1819 to design a waterloo medal, so he basically stuck 2 fingers up at the mint who couldn't sack him, and again writing from memory I think he took 30 years to finish the medal, and then he sent a snotty letter to the Mint telling them what he thought of them. The piece itself is a work of art but it was stated that most of those who were actually due a Waterloo medal were dead...

The remnant of the lance on the left ground is a reminder that this was the weapon that mortally wounded the dragon, not the sword, which was merely the back-up weapon. The handle has clearly been dropped leaving the mid section where you see it, and the point of the spear protruding from underneath the dragons right wing - thus breaking in two places!  You can see a short section of the spear point on all G&D images, some more clearly than others. I had a detailed letter published in the June 1998 edition of Coin News about this very subject. Pistrucci was bit of a temperamental oddball who concocted the story of breaking the spear in the first image so that as little of the spear as possible passed over the horses right flank to distract the viewer - "not tasteful" as he put it. I expect he was also trying to impress Lady Spencer with his engraving artwork as it was she who had requested a neo-classical (Greek) depiction of G&D. Thus a naked man with only a helmet for protection! We know that this sword in hand image only lasted for about 5 years before being kicked into the long grass during George IVs reign, and not reappearing 'til 1871. Of course this was to the complete delight of the Wyon family of engravers/medalists who were not very keen on this Italian upstart. Perhaps they forgot about being German immigrants themselves originally (from the Cologne Mint) 

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On 22/08/2021 at 20:38, Britannia47 said:

I bought my first proof sovereign in 1997. I was disappointed in the colour. I didn't look like a gold coin. Even today sovereigns use all copper alloy, making the coin look reddish. Is it time for an all-gold version of the sovereign? Here are my reasons for suggesting 'Yes!' and I do understand that Tradition is a hard opponent of the argument. Alloy was added to the sovereign to make it durable in circulation - we all know that, so no need for it now. The RM has to source or refine 91.7 gold just for the sovereign. The Brits changed to 9999 gold and introduced the 9999 QBs as well - both very successfully. In the U.S. the 9999 buffalo was born, but kept the 22ct Eagle.  The Krugerrand resisted 9999 gold. I believe the demand for world wide coinage has been shrinking, perhaps quickened by Covid19 lockdowns and use of cards. Thus the RM may be looking at the collectors and bullion markets to make up future shortfalls. A 9999 sovereign could be a world beater. Would it be a QB 1/4 spec coin or a larger 7.98g coin. I don't know. Why not call it 'The New Sovereign!'  I hear silent shouts of "absolutely not!" already, but feel entitled to this opinion after 24 years collecting sovereigns... Please be nice!

You were, and still are, quite right @Britannia47 to be disappointed with the colour of your (1997?) proof sovereign.

The marketing people, and other decision makers, at the Royal Mint, seem to have decided, sometime during the Queen's reign, that modern sovereigns were traditionally made of red gold, that is alloyed only with copper, and without any silver content. Why they believe this, nobody knows, but it now seems to be ingrained, as does their stubbornness, and resistance to change, or perhaps reluctance to admit they have been wrong for the past half century.

I have linked this page in TSF a few times recently: https://www.chards.co.uk/blog/analysis-of-alloy-content-of-gold-sovereigns/180, but will do so again, as it is relevant to the discussion. We have actually tested many hundreds of sovereigns, but will either expand that page, or publish further research when we have more time. My experience says that a typical silver content in pre'QEII sovereigns was 3 parts per thousand, but with quite wide variation.

Tradition is indeed not entirely on your side ragarding using "fine" gold of 999 or 999.9 ppt, but the first ever gold sovereigns, in 1489, were made of 15.55 grams of 23ct (95.83% fine) gold, and they contained about 0.479 troy ounces of fine gold, more than double the "modern" specification, so tradition is not entiirely on the Royal Mint's side either! What's more, although I have not had the opportunity to test any of the Edward VII sovereigns, I stongly suspect they are alloyed with a high relative silver content, and certainly not with all copper.

This page: https://goldsovereigns.co.uk/firstsovereign.html may be interesting, I wrote it in about January 2000.

I don't agree that we should make 999.9 gold sovereigns, but we could do much better than the Mint's current efforts. If it does ever remove it's head from its anus, and pay due respect to tradition, they could call it "The Old Sovereign", rather than  "The New Sovereign".

 

Edited by LawrenceChard

Chards

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On 22/08/2021 at 21:17, CollectorNo1 said:

I understand your point of view totally. I love and collect old British sovreigns mainly Victorian,yes the colours of these do differ depending on the percentage of additional alloys that have been added to make them more durable as they were day to day currency back in the day. Mainly a percentage of copper and you will see different shades of sovreigns throughout the years. With 24ct gold its less dense and susceptible to damage.  Drop a 24ct gold sovreign or any Bullion coin and chances are it will be damaged..dented or scratched so you have to treat it like a new born baby... I have a mixture of both, but if I buy a 24ct coin of any era,denomination I will never take it out of its omp or capsules..I can enjoy the coin without handling it..just goes in my storage trays....I treat all  PM's the same..whether its a bullion Silver coin or a 22-24ct  gold coin as I want to keep my investment in the best possible condition I can...I've seen collectors of silver bullion for example with no care..throwing them in tubes..or handling them with bare hands etc...but I treat every coin I purchase  the same I want them kept in the best condition I can..when it comes to the day I have to sell them...i want them in the best condition to get the best price. If a coin has been treated impropably throughout the years you have collected or stacked them..dont expect to get the best price you want..even if its just bullion......would you pay more for a mint coin or a coin with scratches,dents and milkspots...I know what I'd pay more for!!!

The density of fine gold is 19.3 grams per cc, while 22ct is about 17.75 grams per cc, depending on the other components. 

This page has a brief table: https://www.chards.co.uk/blog/density-of-gold-and-other-metals/377

I just spotted a slight error on the page. Anyone want to try to win a pint by finding it?

You are of course correct in that 24ct gold is softer and generally less durable than 22ct gold. Hardness and durability are not the same thing, and hardness depends on a number ot factors including the exact composition of the alloy, and whether it has been work hardened, annealed, and more.

Chards

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1 hour ago, Britannia47 said:

The remnant of the lance on the left ground is a reminder that this was the weapon that mortally wounded the dragon, not the sword, which was merely the back-up weapon. The handle has clearly been dropped leaving the mid section where you see it, and the point of the spear protruding from underneath the dragons right wing - thus breaking in two places!  You can see a short section of the spear point on all G&D images, some more clearly than others. I had a detailed letter published in the June 1998 edition of Coin News about this very subject. Pistrucci was bit of a temperamental oddball who concocted the story of breaking the spear in the first image so that as little of the spear as possible passed over the horses right flank to distract the viewer - "not tasteful" as he put it. I expect he was also trying to impress Lady Spencer with his engraving artwork as it was she who had requested a neo-classical (Greek) depiction of G&D. Thus a naked man with only a helmet for protection! We know that this sword in hand image only lasted for about 5 years before being kicked into the long grass during George IVs reign, and not reappearing 'til 1871. Of course this was to the complete delight of the Wyon family of engravers/medalists who were not very keen on this Italian upstart. Perhaps they forgot about being German immigrants themselves originally (from the Cologne Mint) 

The stories behind the Mint are just as fascinating as the coins themselves - Surely we have to see the Waterloo medal appear in the Great Engravers Series ?

Allgold Coins Est 2002 - Premium Gold Coin Dealer and Specialists :  

www.allgoldcoins.co.uk

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11 hours ago, LawrenceChard said:

The density of fine gold is 19.3 grams per cc, while 22ct is about 17.75 grams per cc, depending on the other components. 

This page has a brief table: https://www.chards.co.uk/blog/density-of-gold-and-other-metals/377

I just spotted a slight error on the page. Anyone want to try to win a pint by finding it?

You are of course correct in that 24ct gold is softer and generally less durable than 22ct gold. Hardness and durability are not the same thing, and hardness depends on a number ot factors including the exact composition of the alloy, and whether it has been work hardened, annealed, and more.

OK, I'll bite @LawrenceChard  :D

IS it 'Density should correctly be expressed in units of "unit mass per unit volume"', when it should be 'Density should correctly be expressed in units of "mass per unit volume" ?¬† i.e. you have one to many 'units' in there? ūü§ď

Please poor beer into you computer straight away if correct.¬† I'm standing here witha pint glass underneath mine awaiting its arrival ūüėĀ

P.S. What's the thing with Nottingham University Students about???? ūüĎ®‚Äćūüéď You sound like you had a bad experience!¬† ūü§£

 

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13 hours ago, LawrenceChard said:

 

I would have said that

specific gravity is how many times more dense a substance is when compared to a baseline substance(usually water)

usually

specific gravity = (density of substance) divided by (density of water)

 

HH

Edited by HawkHybrid
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