The original British Gold Sovereigns contained 240 grams of 23-carat gold. In the time of King Henry VIII, the purity was dropped to 22-carat gold, which is now the standard for gold coins in the United Kingdom as well as in the United States.
The British Gold Sovereign was the most widely distributed gold coin during the height of the British Empire. The coins were the predominant method for monetary exchanges from 1818 to the early 1900s, during which time the practice spread to other countries. As the British Empire expanded, the coins were minted in locations such as Pretoria, Bombay, Melbourne, Perth, Ottawa and Sydney. This ensured a constant supply of British Gold Sovereigns on hand for trade.