Jump to content
  • The above Banner is a Sponsored Banner.

    Upgrade to Premium Membership to remove this Banner & All Google Ads. For full list of Premium Member benefits Click HERE.

  • Join The Silver Forum

    The Silver Forum is one of the largest and best loved silver and gold precious metals forums in the world, established since 2014. Join today for FREE! Browse the sponsor's topics (hidden to guests) for special deals and offers, check out the bargains in the members trade section and join in with our community reacting and commenting on topic posts. If you have any questions whatsoever about precious metals collecting and investing please join and start a topic and we will be here to help with our knowledge :) happy stacking/collecting. 21,000+ forum members and 1 million+ forum posts. For the latest up to date stats please see the stats in the right sidebar when browsing from desktop. Sign up for FREE to view the forum with reduced ads. 

Crown Gold Errors and Misinformation - Wikipedia and More

Recommended Posts

Last Friday, @Bimetallic said "They were true Crown gold alloy coins, 91.67% fine, balance copper, just like real Sovereigns." I think he may have been quoting a book he had been reading "Counterfeiter: The Story of a British Master Forger (1989)"

I posted a partial anwer at the time, 

The Wikipedia page starts off well enough:

"Crown gold is a 22 karat (kt) gold alloy used in the crown coin introduced in England in 1526 (by Henry VIII). In this alloy, the proportion of gold is 22 parts out of 24 (91.667% gold)—and is appreciably less prone to wear than the softer 23 kt gold of earlier gold sovereigns — an important point for coins intended for everyday use in circulation."

But then goes off the rails:

"Alloying metal
The alloying metal in England was, and is, traditionally restricted to copper. This is still used for the current British gold sovereign. An exception was for the gold sovereigns of 1887, when 1.25% silver, replacing the same weight of copper, was used to gain a better reproduction image of Queen Victoria for the Golden Jubilee of her reign."

I have already given a substantial refutation of the first part of this assertion, in the TSF link above.

Sure, there was an exception for some of the 1887 gold sovereigns, but only those of the London Mint, and only the Jubilee Portrait issue, and not either of the young head issues also produced that year. The Wikipedia contributor was annoyingly sloppy and inaccurate with his "facts", but I have noted this is quite common on Wikipedia where pseudo experts copy, paste, and re-hash stuff they have read, and often misunderstood, elsewhere.

I doubt that the reason was "to gain a better reproduction image of Queen Victoria", as her reproduction on 1887 young head sovereigns was already good, as were the branch mint Jubilee Head sovereigns. It was much more likely because they would be a more attractive colour, which itself would enhance every aspect of the coin. It may also have helped with production. As there was already a silver content in existing sovereigns, "replacing the same weight of copper" is also inaccurate, misleading, and misguided.

A few days ago, I posted a new topic about a Henry VIII hammered gold half sovereign, which was made during the first 20 years of "Crown Gold".

Our Niton XRF test of this showed a silver content of about 47 ppt (4.7%). 

This is, or should be considered as, convincing evidence that "Crown Gold" was not traditionally gold alloyed solely with copper. I also think that Henry, even though he is much maligned by many historians and numismatists for debasing the currency, would have been unhappy, possibly incandescent with rage, if his new coinage had been a coppery red colour instead of a pleasant, and very traditional yellow, close to the colour of pure gold or the previous 23ct Tower Gold, itself almost certainly including silver in its alloy. Of course, this is only one single coin, but all hammered gold coins I have ever tested also contain silver.

Wikipedia Continues:

From 1834, the fineness of U.S. coin gold was decreased from the 22 kt "crown gold" standard to 0.8992 fine (21.58 kt); and in 1837 to 0.900 fine (21.60 kt exactly). This 90% gold–copper alloy continued in the U.S. from 1837 until gold coins were removed from circulation in the U.S. in 1933

I have tested many USA gold coins, and cannot remember any of them being alloyed with all copper and no silver. 

Here is one example:


You can't get more iconic than a gold dollar from the gold rush year of 1849


1849-D USA Gold $1 One Dollar Niton XRF Test Result

Showing 43 to 44 ppt (4.3% to 4.4%) of silver.

More Wikipedia:

"The South African Krugerrand, first produced in 1967, is produced in the traditional crown gold recipe of 22 kt gold, (remainder copper), because it was originally intended to circulate as currency."

I have tested a significant number of Krugerrands, and most of them, particularly earlier dates, also contain silver.

For example, I tested a 1967 Krugerrand, the very first date, and the XRF results showed between 3 and 4 parts per thousand (ppt) of silver.

Here is an example of a typical date 1988:


It's Niton XRF Analysis:


Which shows 3 ppt (0.3%) of silver.

I did test a 2017 Anniversary Krugerrand, which was alloyed with copper and no silver, but the main reason for testing it was because it looked red compared with most other Krugerrands. More about it here: https://www.chards.co.uk/blog/krugerrand-gold-content/507.

A linked Wikipedia page "The Great Debasement" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Debasement states:

"The Great Debasement (1544–1551) was a currency debasement policy introduced in 1544 England under the order of Henry VIII which saw the amount of precious metal in gold and silver coins reduced and in some cases replaced entirely with cheaper base metals such as copper."

I am not aware of any Henry VIII coins which were entirely made of copper or other base metals. There are none listed in the Spink catalogue. The Wikipedia statement is baseless (pun intended). It also contradicts itself "while silver was reduced from 92.5% sterling silver to just 25%."

It's getting late.

More to follow...


Edited by LawrenceChard
added images


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wikipedia is great until it isn’t, or someone with a niche interest skews the information.  A few years back, I found some fairly obscure financial definitions on Wikipedia and when reading a proper book on the subject couldn’t marry up what was on the web and what was in the book.  The subject was Bonds and the bond market and the book is / was well regarded and something of a “Bible” on the subject.

The book was right, Wiki was wrong.  I don’t waste time on Wikipedia any more!



Not my circus, not my monkeys

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Cookies & terms of service

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. By continuing to use this site you consent to the use of cookies and to our Privacy Policy & Terms of Use