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Silver British Coins

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British Silver Coins

The Royal Mint has been around for right around 1,100 years and can track its history through every major event in Britain from political upheavals to technological progress. Back in 880, the Royal Mint created coins of Alfred the Great — the first coins to be produced by the mint.

History of Silver Coins in Great Britain

The first silver crowns were minted in 1551 during the reign of King Edward VI. They weighed approximately one ounce and had a standard of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper, making them more durable than pure silver coins. When Scotland and England united in 1707, it became known as the British crown.

In 1920, the silver content of the crowns was reduced to only 50 percent, with some of the content being replaced with manganese, which caused the coins to tarnish. In 1947, silver was taken out of the coins completely and replaced with a cupronickel.

Silver Britannia Coins

In 1997, the silver bullion coin was introduced to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the gold Britannia coin released for the first time in 1987. Each coin was one ounce, though you can also purchase these coins in fractional sizes of one-tenth, one-quarter, and one-half. In 2013, the Royal Mint introduced two new sizes: five ounces and one-twentieth of an ounce. The purity of these coins from 1997 to 2012 was 95.8 percent pure, but since 2013, the Britannia coins are .999 (or 99.9 percent) pure.

2014 1 oz British Silver Britannia (BU)

Britannia Design

Philip Nathan designed the first reverse of the silver Britannia coin in 1997 — the majestic figure of Britannia standing proud in her chariot while being pulled by two horses along the seashore. Raphael Maklouf, however, designed the obverse, which is a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. On the odd years since, a non-repeating depiction of Britannia has been used on the reverse of the coin, while on the even years, the standard standing Britannia figure has been used. However, as of 2013, there will be a proof version each year with different designs and a bullion version that continues to feature the classic standing figure of Britannia.

Symbolism of the Britannia

Britannia is the personification of the British islands and is a Roman goddess that has been a popular figure since the first century, which was the first time she was ever depicted as a goddess. Having her on the silver bullion coin is not a new thing. Back in the 18th century, she was on many coins including pennies issued from 1797 all the way up to the decimalization that took place in 1971. At that time, Britannia was moved to be on the 50p coin and continued to reside there until 2008.

She stands as a symbol of liberty, unity, and strength, and she was used especially after the kingdoms of Scotland, England, Wales, and Ireland came together to form one country in the 17th century.

Lunar Coins

In addition to the Britannia bullion coins, the Royal Mint has released a new series of Lunar coins. These coins celebrate the lunar year, which for 2014 is the horse. These one ounce silver coins are made of .999 fine silver and are proof editions, which means they have a specially polished and treated dye to create a mirror effect on the coins that continue to shine as long as the coin is handled delicately and kept protected.

2014 1 oz British Silver Horse (BU)

The year 2014 was the first year for this series to be released. British Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho created the design used for the coins, featuring a very dynamic horse that almost appears to be leaping off the coin. The characteristics of those born in the year of the horse include lively and strong; Wuon-Gean Ho aptly captured these characteristics in the design of the coin.

Lunar Calendar

The lunar calendar is a calendar based on lunar phases, which usually begins in January or February and extends to the next January or February, varying depending on the cycle of the moon. Each year is associated with an animal and it is believed that the year you were born determines what your strengths and weaknesses are. The year of the horse lasts from January 31, 2014 to February 18, 2015.

The next lunar year coming up is the year of the sheep from February 2015 to February 2016 and then the year of the monkey from February 2016 to January 2017. All told, there are 12 animals that represent years on the Chinese zodiac. It will be exciting to see what designs the Royal Mint comes up with. If you’re interested in collecting silver bullion coins, the ones produced by the Royal Mint are a great starting point!