What is a Britannia?
Published on 01/29/2021 by APMEX
Britannias are British coins issued by The Royal Mint since 1987. Beginning with Gold, Silver followed in 1997, while Platinum wasn’t included until 2018. The coins feature a variety of depictions of Britannia, a feminine personification of the United Kingdom.
What is a Gold Britannia?
Introduced by The Royal Mint in 1987, Gold Britannia coins have played a significant role in the coin market. Gold Britannias are issued in 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, and 1/10 oz sizes with face values in British pounds (£) of £100, £50, £25, and £10, respectively. They are .9167 fine Gold and are legal tender in Great Britain. Until 1990, the Gold Britannia was alloyed with copper. However, beginning in 1990, the coins have been alloyed with Silver, which gives those issued since 1990 a lighter yellow color than the earlier Britannias. In 2013, the fineness increased to .9999 fine.
What is a Silver Britannia?
Following the success of the Gold Britannia bullion coins introduced in 1987, the Royal Mint produced a 1 oz Silver Britannia coin in 1997, with the 1997 Silver Britannias being issued only as Proof coins with a mintage of 20,000. Silver Britannia coins have a face value of £2. The Silver bullion coins produced from 1998 to 2012 are .958 fine Silver, as opposed to the standard British sterling of .925 fine Silver with the 2013 bullion issue being .999 fine. Silver Britannias are issued in 1 oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, and 1/10 oz sizes with face values of £1, 50p, and 20p respectively.
In 1998 and in all following even-numbered years, the reverse design has depicted a standing Britannia figure. Beginning in 1999 and continuing in odd-numbered years, a series of alternate, non-repeating depictions of Britannia have appeared on the reverse.
The Silver Britannia’s attractive design was created to appeal to both collectors and investors alike. The obverse of the 1997 issue of the Silver coin features the “Third Portrait” used on British decimal bullion coins dated from 1985 to 1997. In 1998, the obverse design of the Silver Britannia coin, along with the obverse designs on all other British coins, changed to depict the “Fourth Portrait,” a more mature likeness of Queen Elizabeth II. The newest "Fifth Portrait" appeared on the Silver Britannia starting in 2016. The reverse of the Silver Britannia coin illustrates the Standing Britannia, which appears in a horse-drawn chariot. The Standing Britannia image was originally engraved by G.W. De Saulles and used on the florins of Edward VII from 1902 to 1910, and on the Gold Britannia coins for most of the issues following 1987.
The standard obverse of Queen Elizabeth II and the reverse of the Standing Britannia decorate all of the Silver Britannia bullion coins of 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006. However, special designs and variations have appeared on the 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007 issues of the Silver Britannia coins. The first of the special single-year designs commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Gold Britannia coins in 1997, the same year of the Silver Britannia coin's introduction. Since then, The Royal Mint seems to have settled on a pattern of alternating the classic Standing Britannia image and a special design on the reverse of the Silver bullion coins. For example, the reverse of the 1997 and 1999 issues of the Silver Britannia coin depicts the same Standing Britannia design, but with one issue being a proof version of the Silver coin and another issue being only an uncirculated version of the British Silver bullion coin.
What is a Platinum Britannia?
Platinum Britannia coins were introduced in 2018 in 1 oz and 1/10 oz sizes. Made from .9995 fine Platinum, they carry a face value of £100 and £10, respectively.