Marsh, M.A. The Gold Sovereign (revised Steve Hill). Token Publishing. pp. viii, 184. 2017. ISBN 979-1908828-36-1.
For all students and collectors of British gold coins, this new edition of Michael Marsh’s classic is a must. Steve Hill’s complete revision and update of the 2002 Jubilee edition is of the highest quality. Token Publishing is owed a generous vote of thanks from the numismatic community for producing this latest version in the year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the golden coin.
There are several important innovations that render all earlier editions redundant. First up, Marsh’s two former books, The Gold Sovereign and The Gold Half Sovereign, have been combined in one. In addition, the quarter sovereign is now included. This partly explains why the new edition has expanded 39 pages over the earlier two volumes combined.
Secondly, Hill has incorporated all recent strikings plus numerous additional varieties recognized in recent years such as emerged with sale of the Bentley Collection. Together, these two categories explain the 400+ new entries since 2002/4.
Token Publishing has also updated many of the illustrations and included additional images. While all coins are shown actual size, enlargements are provided of coin areas to illustrate the different varieties, e.g. ,8 heart semée vs. 7 heart semée, long tail horse vs short tail horse. The use of Scanning Electron Microscope images to illustrate items such as overdates gives the book a high-tech edge.
For the newcomer, there is an essential glossary of abbreviations up front. This includes designers’ initials. It is followed by the opening chapter that describes and illustrates the original English sovereign. This provides a context for that coin’s modern British counterpart to be introduced.
The main structure of the book is based around the coins of the different monarchs in the manner Marsh established in his 1980 first edition. After working through the issues of the Mother Country, those of the imperial branch mints are cataloged in detail.
Throughout, advice is provided for prospective buyers, such as the difficulties of assembling a complete set of the five half sovereigns of William IV and why most of us need to be content to collect these in low grades.
The book concludes on a delightful note: some choice illustrations of sovereign balances and sovereign cases. Appropriately, this is the point where a warning is posted against counterfeit British gold – with illustrations.
A separate price guide accompanies the book. It is aimed at the collector and gives values for EF or VF grades of circulation coins and FDC for proof. I was glad to see that the values given are not based on what the compiler believes a coin to be worth but on recent auction results and dealers’ sales, as well as the price of gold on Aug. 1 this year.
The book is a credit to the publishers and to the editor, John Mussell. It is professionally presented and readily accessible. Understandably, it has been selling like hot cakes. I recommend it.
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