The United Kingdom's Royal Mint strikes coins for the entire UK. Founded in 886, it has been around for more than 1,100 years, making it a truly historical mint. It began operating as the Royal Mint Ltd. in 2010, at which time HM Treasury acquired ownership. As a result, it is now under contract to exclusively provide coinage to the country. The Royal Mint also exports coinage to other parts of the world, and it makes medals for the military, the government, businesses, schools, and commemorative occasions.
In many ways, the Royal Mint is like any other mint. However, the Trial of the Pyx is an incredibly interesting procedure designed to make sure that every coin minted conforms to the highest possible standards. The trials used have been in place since the 12th century, and they generally take place once a year.
In this procedure, a judge and a jury peopled with expert assayers preside over the trials, which are now held in the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. The Mint's Deputy Master selects coins randomly during the calendar year of production. Typically, a few thousand get picked for trial. The word “Pyx” comes from the chest into which the coins are placed before jury presentation.
The Royal Mint boasts a rich and interesting history. The fact that it has been around since 886 intrigues both collectors and investors. At that point, it was the London Mint, an institution in its own right under the rule of Alfred the Great. At the time, however, there were still other mints in the kingdom. In 1279, the Mint moved to the esteemed Tower of London, where it resided for 500 years. Throughout the 16th century, it monopolized coin production.
In 1696, none other than Isaac Newton became the Warden of the Mint. He had the job of sniffing out counterfeiters. Newton eventually became the Master of the Royal Mint, a position that lasted until 1727, the year he died. He was largely responsible for giving the Pound Sterling a gold standard instead of a silver one.
Under Newton's guiding hand, the mint grew. Later, because of the size of the mint, the machinery it used, a lack of space in the Tower, and a battle with France, the mint moved to East Smithfield. It had its own building, designed by Robert Smirke and James Johnson. The move took place in 1809. In the late 1800s, the structure was once again rebuilt in the interest of creating more space. Rebuilds continued on into the 1960s, to accommodate the growth of the Mint.
The East Smithfield location lasted until 1967. There was a need for yet more room, and the desire to accommodate collectors and investors overseas. As well, the original building had undergone severe damage throughout WWII. As a result, the Mint moved to Llantrisant, near Cardiff. The move was gradual, however, with the last London coin (a gold Sovereign) minted in 1975.
In 1975, the Mint increased its efficiency by becoming a trading fund. In 2009, however, Alistair Darling, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer then, decided to sell off the Mint. That was the year it became a limited company, now owned by the HM Treasury.
The Royal Mint takes pleasure in producing many coins and metals for people all over the world — including medals. However, the first priority is to produce blanks and medals for the UK. These are available for people around the world, as well. Aside from these types of coinage, there are also Maundy money and bimetallic coins and of course the popular Gold Britannia and Silver Britannia bullion coins.
The Royal Mint promises quality assurance and not just due to the Trial of the Pyx. The government assures the purity and weight of every coin they produce. Further, there's a choice between secure tube or box packaging, which helps not just with transit but also with storage.
Owing to the Mint's long reputation, it's a favorite among numismatists and investors. With quality guaranteed and both special coins and bullion meeting the highest standards, the Royal Mint always delivers excellent coinage and metals. Furthermore, the Mint comes out with a variety of specialty coins and commemorative features on a yearly basis. For example, this year they introduced a special Chinese Lunar Year of the Horse coin in both gold and silver.
Prices understandably vary depending on a number of factors. They depend on the bullion market, the spot price of silver or gold, and the coins being referenced. However, the Royal Mint's coins and bullion are typically very affordable and availability is very stable. The Royal Mint promises availability, which helps suppliers keep their items stocked. Be sure to browse our selection of British silver and gold coins and enjoy free shipping on all orders over $99.