The British Royal Mint has issued their first 50 Pound Silver Britannia! Composed of 1 oz. of .999 fine silver, it features a much higher denomination than its silver value. This is a unique issue, that could very well start a trend with the Royal Mint on producing 1 oz. coins with high face values! It features a stunning design that was first seen on the 2014 Proof Silver Britannia. This item is already very popular - two-thirds of its total mintage is already sold at the Mint!
In recent years, several major world mints have issued numismatic silver and gold coins with much higher face values than what normally appears on collector coins and sold them at those same face values. The Paris Mint in France and the Royal Canadian Mint have been leaders in this innovative approach to coin marketing.
The Royal Mint in the United Kingdom entered this field in 2013 with a series of quarter-ounce silver, 20 pound coins that depicted iconic British themes like the image of Saint George slaying the Dragon from British gold sovereigns and Winston Churchill. They were followed by a series of 100 pounds, 2-oz. silver commemoratives that paid tribute to British landmarks, Big Ben, and Buckingham Palace.
In 2015 the Mint added the first-ever legal tender 50 pound, 1-oz., and .999 fine silver commemorative with a mintage limit of 100,000 coins. Two-thirds of the mintage is already sold as of mid-January. The coin comes with an uncirculated finish.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the new coin is that reuses a highly celebrated design that first appeared on the 2014 Britannia line of proof silver and gold coins. Those coins were the subject of universal acclaim from collectors and have appreciated substantially in the secondary market.
Britannia proof coins used to feature the same design that appeared on the uncirculated silver coin of that year, but since 2013 a new design has been used each year for the proof series. The 2014 design is without a doubt the most popular so far.
The design features a reverse that shows a very modern rendition of Britannia with the traditional British lion at her feet that is the creation of Jody Clark, the noted UK coin designer who also designed the fifth effigy of Queen Elizabeth II that debuted on UK coins in 2015 and other UK coins.
The obverse shows that very same effigy of the Queen. Thus, the two sides of this coin depict the two most iconic symbols of Britain: Britannia and the Queen. It is also not often that both sides of a coin are designed by the same person.
Britannia, the allegorical representation of Britain that is comparable to the American Lady Liberty, has appeared on British coins since Roman times. She is “a popular representation of Britain, reimagined through the centuries, always reflecting the United Kingdom at a moment in time. She personifies the nation, its history and the values it upholds. Today’s Britannia, depicted by Jody Clark, is strong and elegant, standing before the world with the British lion at her side,” according to the Royal Mint.
The artist described his design this way in 2014: “In approaching my design I started by researching what had gone before. Britannia has appeared in so many different compositions and with such a variety of symbols, I wanted my design to recall her history and tradition but with the elements surrounding Britannia, rather than weighing her down.”
“Although some of the elements are motionless – the globe as a backdrop, the shield and trident placed at her side – I feel there is a dynamism to the design. There is a sense of movement as Britannia’s hair and robes flow, as does the mane of the lion, an iconic symbol of strength and pride that I was keen to include, and I hope that the two appear united as I intended them. Although the lion is at Britannia’s feet, its tail is curled around her, protective and tamed.”
From the time it was first unveiled when the 2014 Britannia proof coins were launched, this elegant and stylish new Britannia, which some people refer to as being “art deco” in style, or the “supermodel” Britannia according to others, was an instant hit with collectors and those who admire medallic art.
This 21st century Britannia depicts her charm, beauty, and strength in a way that is different from any previous design. And the addition of a modern image of a globe behind her also struck a chord with collectors and buyers all over the world.
The 5-oz. silver proof, 1-oz. silver proof, and 6-coin silver proof set bearing this superb design all sold out quickly. They are difficult to find today and expensive to acquire. One of the main reasons for this situation appears to be that buyers were so taken with the design that they mostly preferred to hold on to their coins, which has kept supplies available in the marketplace to a minimum.
In fact, several numismatic writers specializing in modern coins have said the 2014 proof coins should have received an award for design excellence.
By using that design again on the 2015 50 pound silver face value coin, those who missed out on the 2014 proof coins have a chance to purchase a coin with this great design at a very affordable price. And that opportunity is not likely to repeat itself.
In addition, it was fitting to issue the coin in 2015 since that was not only the year when the fifth effigy of Queen Elizabeth by Mr. Clark debuted, but is also the year when Britannia returned to circulating coinage after a long hiatus, appearing on a 2-pound definitive coin.
Legal tender coins with high face values like this one offer the buyer a measure of protection against highly volatile silver prices, which is one of the reasons they have become popular with buyers.
Don’t miss this chance to own a piece of British coin history and to celebrate the heritage, culture, and traditions of our great ally across the Atlantic Ocean.
||Louis is an award-winning numismatic journalist and writer specializing on modern coins. He has been writing a weekly column for CoinWeek since May 2011 called “The Coin Analyst,” which focuses primarily on modern U.S. and world coins and developments at major world mints. In August 2015 he received the Numismatic Literary Guild’s award for Best Website Column for “The Coin Analyst,” and in August 2021 the column received the NLG award for best column on modern U.S. coins. He has also received other awards for his writing. He is also a contributor to several magazines, including Coin World, where he writes a bimonthly feature;The Numismatist, the American Numismatic Association’s monthly publication, where he writes a monthly column on modern world coins; and and other publications. He began writing about coins in 2009. He is a founding member of the Modern Coin Forum hosted by ModernCoinMart and has written articles for MCM since 2014. He has collected classic and modern U.S. and world coins since he was about 10 and first joined the ANA in the 1970’s. He has been writing professionally since the early 1980s.|