The Royal British Mint Review
The Royal Mint—more officially the Royal Mint Ltd, owned by HM Treasury—is the government body responsible for the production of the world’s finest coins for the UK and England, and originated in approximately 886—over 1,100 years ago. Throughout the course of that 1,100 years, the Royal Mint has evolved through societal changes, political changes, and currency changes.
It has been through many powerful leaders, wars, moved the physical location of its operations and it has become more technologically advanced, changing the way coinage produces. As the world’s leading mint export, the Royal Mint produces military medals and coinage for approximately 60 countries annually.
While the Royal Mint produces coinage, collector edition coins, and medals for other countries around the world, its first priority is to the UK’s coinage and medal needs. Additionally, the Royal Mint expresses its pride in its country’s values and beliefs on the obverse and reverse sides of its coinage. Coins provide a means for the artistic expression of historical artifacts such as the country’s monarchs, religion, national symbols and religion.
The History of Britain’s ‘The Royal Mint’
The origination year of 886 for the Royal Mint is “approximate,” because the precise date and year is unknown. However, there is historical evidence of coinage production about 1,100 years ago. Over the next hundred years, following 886, the country’s government became royal controlled.
This of course included in regards to the country’s coinage. Sometime in the mid-13th Century, approximately 1279, there was a visible distinguished framework of coinage operations, including a location—the Tower of London.
Coinage operations remained at the Tower of London for 500 years until moving to Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, Wales in 1968. Presently, the Llantrisant location maintains an impressive and extensive collection of Royal Mint coinage dating all the way back to the 16th Century. These coins reside in a sturdy, eloquent set of cabinets designed by Hugh Swann, Queen Elizabeth II’s official cabinet-maker.
The official Royal Mint’s official timeline includes a recorded date of 650, or approximately 650, for the first official moneyers London operation. The first monarch coinage occurred in 880 and featured Alfred the Great bearing London’s name as well.
The Royal Mint used to produce coinage for Canada until 1931 when the Canadian branch received control. The Canadian branch then officially became the Royal Canadian Mint.
Trial of the Pyx
To ensure that all newly-minted coinage meets required standards and specifications, each and every coin undergoes the Trial of the Pyx. These trials commence once annually and have taken place since approximately the 12th Century. With a presiding judge and an expert jury of “assayers,” these trials are held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.
Prior to the latest location, they took place at the Palace of Westminster. During this judicial process, thousands of random coins are selected for testing. Each coin must adhere to standards including weight and purity measurements. The process is long and rigorous, and takes up to 2-3 months for a decision. Upon conclusion of testing, the jury’s verdict is then delivered to the Queen’s Remembrancer with the Master of the Royal Mint, or his deputy, present.
BU, Proof, Bullion, and Circulated Coins
BU, Proof, and Bullion coins are generally reserved for gifters, investors, and collectors. Circulated coinage is produced for day-to-day legal tenders, whereas the other aforementioned types are produced at a higher standard with different designs, making their demand great. Proof coins are of the highest quality, and it takes hours to produce depending upon the speed of polishing a Proof die.
The process is more hands-on. To understand the difference between circulated coin production and uncirculated coin production, consider this. The Royal Mint can produce approximately 750 circulated coins per minute versus 50-100 Proof coins per hour. Brilliant Uncirculated can produce at a rate of 300 per minute—a bit faster than Proof coins, but slower than the circulated coins.
And this is because as the level of quality increases, the production process slows down to ensure proper polishing, and dying of coins. Additionally, Proof coinage is struck twice. The second strike helps to enhance the definition of the artwork on the coin, producing a smoother more refined coin. BU coins are produced for individuals interested in owning the collector’s edition coins without the pricy premium of the Proof coin.
The BU coin is produced at a higher standard than the circulated coin, but not at the same standard as the Proof coin. Bullion coins are a step down from the BU coin, but a step above the circulated coin. There are coins for every collector’s personal budget and spending preference.
Circulated coins include the one penny coin, two pence coin, five pence coin, ten pence coin, twenty pence coin, fifty pence coin, one pound coin, two pound coin and five pound coin. Coin types for collectors and investors include: Sovereign, Brittania, Annual Sets, Commemorative Coins, Gold Coins, Silver Coins, Bullion Coins, Premium Range, Collector Albums, Stamp and Coin, Proof Coins, and Medals.
The nominal value of the sovereign gold coin is one pound sterling. Its gold content is 7.322381 grams, or 0.235420 troy ounces, and its purity fineness is 22 carat gold. The reverse side of the gold sovereign is generally the image of St. George mounted on a horse in battle with a dragon; however, other images have been used over the years as well.
The coin’s obverse side features the ruling monarch at the time of production. Silver Brittania coins contain 1 oz of .999 fine silver content with a portrait of the Queen and the coin’s face value on its obverse side, and Brittania on the coin’s reverse side, holding a trident and shield. The image of Brittania symbolizes the country’s strength.
Commemorative coins are of the highest quality coins minted by the Royal Mint and are available in countless series types, from historical moments such as the First World War to the latest 2016 Shakespeare Comedies series and more. These coins are minted in BU, Proof, and Bullion conditions. Each series type embraces the country’s history and culture to the fullest and purest extent. Additionally, the Royal Mint has been producing medals for centuries; this includes both official and private medal usage.