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Why are newer sovereign's 'browner' ?

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13 hours ago, Stacktastic said:

I was wrong it is the 2020 sovereigns that are browner.
Maybe they are trying to make it look older somehow, or distinguish it from the britannia's etc? 
The only other coins that I have that are slightly darker are George 1st. 



Brits are 24c and sovereigns are 22c.

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The colour of all 22ct gold coins will change according to the alloy used. The 'brownish' colour you refer to is simply the copper giving the coin a reddish or even pinkish colour, thereafter referred to as 'RED' gold. ' YELLOW' gold is usually a mix of copper and silver. Using all silver in the alloy produces 'GREEN' gold, but you have to look carefully to see the slightest green hue. I first noticed this on a 2005 'Australia' proof sovereign which I had tested which had no copper in it whatsoever. With sovereigns its a good idea to compare a 1/4oz Queens Beast side by side with a recent sovereign to appreciate how an alloy changes the true colour of gold.

Don't be fooled with reference to 'White' or  'Rose' or even 'Purple' (Addition of aluminium!) gold. These are jewelry descriptions.

The picture below shows the colour change of the first 1817 sovereign using a Yellow gold alloy of copper and silver and even a small amount of iron! to the modern 2017 200th anniv. proof sov. using all copper alloy.


IMG_E1110 (2).JPG

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  • 4 months later...

Sorry for resurrecting the dead, but one of the lads is selling a 2020 Matt sovereign at the moment and it looks more like the traditional gold colouring that older sovereigns have. A side by side may prove otherwise, but if this is the case it's got to be a finishing on the current bullion sovereigns that the RM aren't being straight about? 

I've only ever seen enhanced or what I assume are computer generated pictures of the Matt sovs, seeing a real photo of one is an eye opener.

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  • 5 months later...

Reading all the comments above  I believe there is only one person to ask and give everyone a definitive answer to this question.... A man who is an expert in this field who has owned more sovreigns than I've had hot dinners!!!!!


Edited by CollectorNo1
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  • 1 year later...
On 08/11/2020 at 09:20, Heirlooms said:

I've thought the same thing. Here's images of two 2020 coins, both different colours. I don't own either it has always mystified me





Maybe someone has already mentioned this, but if these are downloaded images then you can’t be sure the site(s) they came from are handling the image colours properly? That’s why Pantone is a thing…

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I believe when you mix two colours together it creates a new colour.

I also believe if the two colours have fairly similar intensity that the new colour will mostly resemble the colour with the highest percentage.

I also believe that gold is a soft metal that does not tarnish, rust or taint.  Is a very dense metal. 


Gold is used to plate various computer components such as PC slot card connectors.  The gold plating covers a pure copper trace that form an electrical connection protecting it from above issues. 

Having seen many gold plated computer connectors, some from many decades ago.  I have never seen a connector suffering from and kind of red dots, tarnish or any other strange phenomenons not associated with gold.

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On 31/05/2016 at 10:49, ApisMellifera said:

I'm still learning about sovereigns but I was wondering why the newer sovereign's seem 'browner' compared to the older ones? I don't own sovereigns yet to compare myself.

I do understand they are struck in 22 carat (11/12 gold and 1/12 copper?) to make the coins harder and more durable but I can't help wondering why modern sov's seem browner and especially seeing this photo on this thread:


Thanks :) 



Oh God you've opened a can of worms here!

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  • 1 year later...

The pickling process noted above was first used by the Romans. It allowed them to debase the silver denarius yet still produce perfectly silver-looking coinage. The 22k blank is blanched in acid, which results in the surface copper leaching out and only the gold remaining.  Then when it is struck, the surface will look gold, but the coin still is made of an alloy. If the coin remains in pristine condition, it will continue to look gold, but if it is sufficiently circulated, then the wear will rub past the more pure external gold surface and into the alloy, where the coin can look more rose gold in color. The pickling described explains 100% of this phenomenon. The Royal Mint could do 18K Russian gold and the pickling would still yield a yellow gold coin. The imperial Romans got a 20% silver Denarius to look just like the 95% Denarius of the Republic with this method. The acid removes surface copper and leaves the gold.

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