Few world Mints have as illustrious a history as the British Royal Mint. From the hammered silver pennies of Alfred the Great first struck around 886 A.D., to the most recognized gold coin ever struck, the British Gold Sovereign first issued in 1817, to the fantastically popular Queen’s Beast and Britannias of today, few organizations can claim such a legacy and record of achievement.
The roots of the British Royal Mint started with disparate small coinage operations over England and Scotland, but grew to a global powerhouse minting coins on five continents for an empire on which the sun never set. They founded what would become the Royal Australian Mint, the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa, the Perth Mint, and the South African Mint…all now independent and still striking coinage and bullion products for their countries and the rest of the world today.
The Royal Mint is responsible for striking all of the circulating coinage in Britain today. It also acts as a contractor for coinage production for smaller countries. It has struck stunning and sought after coins of numismatic interest including the Gold Spade Guinea, the Gold Military Guinea, and the Gold “Unite” which marked the union of Scotland and England under James I. The Royal Mint moved from London to its current location in Llantrisant, Wales in 1967.
Since Roman times, the Goddess Britannia has been the symbol and protector of Britain. In 1987 the Royal Mint introduced the Gold Britannia coin to compete with the likes of the South African Gold Krugerrand, the Canadian Gold Maple, and the Gold Eagle of the United States. The obverse of the series features the Queen’s portrait and the timeless depiction of Britannia designed by British artist Philip Nathan. In 1997, to celebrate the 10 years of success of the Gold Britannia, the Silver Britannia was first struck. Curiously, the silver series was struck in .958 pure silver (or “Britannia Silver”) from inception through 2012, after which it was struck in .999 silver. Many issues in the silver series appeal to numismatic collectors due to their limited mintages.
Few series have been introduced in the last few years to such astounding acclaim and popularity as the Queen’s Beast. The series is designed by Jody Clark, who is the Royal Mint’s superstar engraver, also having designed the “Fifth Portrait” of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II to be featured on British coinage. The series is struck in .9999 fine gold, .9995 platinum, and .9999 fine silver in sizes ranging from 1/4 oz. to 1 kilo. The series also features a bullion strike, a proof finish, and newly introduced copper-nickel entries to the series. Many of the coins have lower and limited mintages.
Each entry in the series is based on a statue of “The Queen’s Beasts” used at her Coronation to represent her regal ancestry. The beasts themselves are: the Lion of England, the Unicorn of Scotland, the Red Dragon of Wales, the Black Bull of Clarence, the Falcon of the Plantagenets, the White Lion of Mortimer, the Yale of Beaufort, the White Greyhound of Richmond, the White Horse of Hanover, and finally the Griffin of Edward III. The coins depicting these symbols of the Queen and the ancestral beasts have been remarkably successful, and have really assisted in cementing the leadership position of the British Royal Mint in the hearts and minds of 21st Century Numismatic collectors and bullion enthusiasts.
The British Gold Sovereign is quite likely, the most recognizable coin in the world and is one of the most storied “Coins of the Realm” to have ever existed. First struck in 1817 featuring the profile of George III and the famous and standard “St. George and the Dragon” reverse by Benedetto Pistrucci, the issue has seen a few changes over the years. It still contains .2354 oz. of gold bullion and is struck in .9167 purity. The Sovereign has featured all of the British Monarchs since 1817 and has had several different reverse designs, including the famous “Shield Back,” “Tudor Rose,” and a few variations of the legendary St. George image. It is the only coin struck on five continents and at seven different Mints. The Sovereign is struck in a variety of sizes and finishes today for collectors.
The Royal Mint also strikes series such as the Landmarks of Britain, featuring famous historic sites, like Big Ben, an exciting Lunar Series based on the Zodiac Animals of the Chinese Lunar calendar, and innovative bars and rounds featuring the Royal Mint branding and attractive security features.