1987 was a milestone year for The Royal Mint, as it saw the introduction of a brand new gold U.K. coin. Named Britannia, it featured the mythical goddess and symbol of Britain. The new coinage quickly became a firm favourite of collectors, international coin buyers and investors alike. Now, to celebrate the anniversary, we have created this special half oz set in .958 Britannia Silver featuring all nine different designs created for Britannia coins in the last 25 years. Five designs are by the world renowned artist Philip Nathan, who sculpted the very first Britannia used in 1987, which won the prestigious Coin of the Year award. The other four coins are by eminent artists Christopher Le Brun RA, John Bergdahl, Suzie Zamit and David Mach.
Each limited edition coin set includes a luxury presentation case with a certificate of authenticity and a special anniversary information booklet detailing the history of Britannia on U.K. coins. It also contains revealing insights about the inspiration for each of the designs in the artists’ own words. Displayed together, the coins are astonishingly beautiful. It is also fascinating to see how each reflects the spirit of the time, the skill of the artist and the craftsmanship of the experts here at The Royal Mint. The satisfaction and reward of owning one these anniversary sets is best expressed by the words Christopher Le Brun RA, used to describe his 2007 Britannia coin: “I have tried to make something that I myself would enjoy returning to look at.” Outer box is a little worn.
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Britannia, the female personification of the British Isles, takes her name from an ancient term for Great Britain and has been a popular figure since the 1st century, when she was first depicted on Roman coinage under the rule of Emperor Hadrian. Illustrated as a goddess, Britannia resembles the Roman figure Boudica. Britannia first appeared on British coins in 1672, when she graced the farthing. She was a firm fixture on coins from this point onwards, appearing on pennies issued under every monarch from 1797 until decimalization, when she was chosen to appear on the 50 pence coin until 2008.
Over the years, the image of Britannia has altered slightly, with her maritime links being emphasized by switching her spear to a trident. Britannia is seen as a symbol of British unity, liberty and strength, meaning she resurfaces during particularly challenging times. Like Columbia in the U.S. and Marianne in France, Britannia becomes more prominent in times of war or when national pride is booming.
In 1987, Britannia’s image graced the new Gold bullion coin minted by the Royal Mint known as the Gold Britannia. These Gold coins have since grown in popularity as an investment and a collector’s piece. Gold Britannias are available in sizes as small as 1/20 oz and as large as 5 oz Gold coins. In 1997, the Royal Mint expanded this design to a Silver bullion coin known as the Silver Britannia. Over time, both the Gold Britannia and Silver Britannia have experienced changes in design and an increase in metal purity, making them major players in the modern coin market.