The 2013 Britannia artist, Robert Hunt, has created a graceful Britannia, seated in traditional pose, robed in the classical tradition and with Corinthian helmet and Neptune’s trident to represent her claim as ‘ruler of the waves'.
First Year Issue!
Starting in 2013, the Britannia will be minted in even finer Precious Metals, including the purest .999 fine Silver. Britannia bullion coins will carry the original standing portrait of Britannia by Philip Nathan. Britannia Proof coins will feature a different design each year. She is the ultimate British symbol – designed by a British artist, approved by the Queen and struck by The Royal Mint. This coin containing a full five ounces of fine Silver is a hugely impressive first for the Britannia range: the first of the new coins, the first Britannia Five-Ounce coin and the first Britannia to be struck in high relief. Britannia has always reflected Britain’s position, strengths and aspirations. She has been reimagined over time and has earned her reputation as the changing face of Britain. Nathan's Britannia turns her head, a listening pose that indicates she is open to a world beyond Britain, the owl that accompanies her is a symbol of her wisdom. So closely tied with the coinage is Britannia that she is protected by law – only coins struck by The Royal Mint are genuine Britannia coins. Collectors will be very keen to secure these first five-ounce coins. Only 1,150 of them will be able to add one to their exclusive collections, for the issue of these premium coins, with luxurious presentation, is strictly limited.
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.