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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Royal Mint of England responded to the growing demand for lunar-themed bullion coinage in 2014 with the debut of its own lunar collection. Known officially as the Shengxiao Series, the collection features a distinct design on silver and gold bullion coins matching the animal from the Zodiac with the date mark for a given year. The coins are designed by British-Chinese artist Wuon-Gean Ho and deliver extremely artistic depictions of the 12 animals to feature in the Chinese lunar calendar.
Shengxiao is the Mandarin Chinese word for the Chinese Zodiac and the coins in the Shengxiao Series each include 1 Troy oz of .999 fine silver content. The coins arrive inside of individual capsules or rolls of 20 coins. A face value of 2 Pound sterling has been issued to each coin and the specimens feature a shared obverse design with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. There are, however, variations to the obverse design throughout the series:
The Year of the Horse was the lead-off design in this series when it launched in 2014. The available designs to date in this collection include:
One of the hottest sellers for the Royal Mint in recent years is the Queen’s Beast Series. This 10-coin collection is inspired by the heraldic beasts passed down through the British Royal Arms from the first official symbols of King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart) in the late-12th century through to the modern day. The beasts in this series were not chosen at random though. Each one represents a beast that was depicted in carvings at the 1953 coronation ceremony for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey.
The Queen’s Beast Series debuted in 2016 from the Royal Mint with a first-ever 2 oz silver bullion coin, and expanded in 2017 to feature a 10 oz silver bullion coin. Each one features .9999 pure silver content and bears the Jody Clark fifth-generation effigy of Her Majesty on the obverse. The reverse design fields in the series all depict a different heraldic beast from the history of the British Royal Arms and include:
While the broader Queen’s Beast Series launched in 2016, the Royal Mint of England released the first proof versions of each design starting in 2017. The release schedule for the proof coins follows the same schedule as the bullion coins with different date marks reflecting the later introduction. While the silver bullion coins are only available in 2 oz and 10 oz silver, the Proof Silver Queen’s Beast coins are available in 1 oz, 5 oz, 10 oz, and 1 kilogram weights. The proof coins are individually packaged with the following options by weight:
The four-coin Silver British Landmarks Series from the Royal Mint of England was issued from 2017 to 2019. It included a singular release in 2017 and 2019, with two coins issued in 2018. Some of the most iconic architecture and national landmarks from across Britain are featured on the reverse side of the coins in this series.
Silver British Landmarks Series coins have 1 Troy oz of .999 fine silver with a face value of 2 Pound sterling backed by the British government. The coins in the series are available inside of individual protective plastic capsules and have a limited mintage of 50,000 coins per design.
The obverse of all the coins features the fifth-generation portrait of Queen Elizabeth II from Jody Clark. This right-profile portrait debuted on British coins in 2016 and the 2017 release in this series has a stippled, or hammered, background behind the Queen’s effigy. The 2018 coins and 2019 final release all have the newer guilloche background design element on the obverse.
For the reverse side of each of the four releases, some of the most iconic structures from Great Britain are depicted in brilliant reliefs. The four designs are available in the following order:
If you have any questions about Silver British Coins, please feel free to reach out to Silver.com. Our customer service team is available at 888-989-7223, online using our live chat, and via our email address to assist you during the buying process.