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Britannias are a fairly new addition to the line up of British coins, having only been in production since 1987 for gold Britannias and 1997 for the silver Britannias.
The Britannia coins depict the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse and a variety of designs featuring the goddess, Britannia, on the reverse. Since their inception, the portrait of the Queen has seen five versions with the most recent change being in 2015, when the portrait was changed to the "fifth portrait". For the first time in over 100 years, The Royal Mint chose one of their own employees, Jody Clark, to design a new portrait of Her Majesty The Queen.
Britannias are minted in gold, silver and more recently, platinum. The full Britannia contains one troy ounce of its respective precious metal.
Whilst a full gold Britannia coin contains one troy ounce of gold (31.103g), it holds a face value of just £100, far lower than its precious metal value. Gold Britannia are also produced in fractional denominations of £50 (half ounce), £25 (quarter ounce), £10 (1/10th ounce), £1 (1/20th ounce) and £50p (1/40th ounce). Between 1987 and 2012, the gold Britannia was minted in 22 carat gold, which is 91.67% pure, giving them a millesimal fineness number of 9167. In 2013, The Royal Mint made the strategic decision to switch to minting Britannias in 24 carat .9999 gold, in part to appeal to the growing Asian market, which prefers investment gold to be in pure form.
The silver Britannias were first made public in 1997 as a silver proof set. Since the year 1997, the reverse design of the silver Britannia has shown the image of a standing Britannia figure during even-numbered years. From 1999 onward, the standing figure of Britannia has been replaced on the reverse side of the silver Britannia with a line of different, non-repeating depictions of Britannia during odd numbered years.
From 1997 to 2012, the silver Britannia coins were minted from 95.8% pure silver, also known as Britannia silver, so their millesimal fineness is 958. After 2012, The Royal Mint switched to minting Britannias in fine .999 silver. They bear a face value of £2 and like their gold counterparts, silver Britannias are issued in fractional denominations of one-half, one-quarter, and one-tenth, one-twentieth and one-fortieth of a troy ounce. They bear respective face values of £1, 50p, 20p, 10p and 5p.
In AD 43, the Roman Empire took over the island we now know as Great Britain and established a province they called Britannia. This name came to symbolize the island and, at some point in the 2nd century, the Roman Britannia came to be depicted as a centurion helmeted, warrior goddess, who was armed with a trident-like spear and shield. The Britannia goddess first appeared on the British Farthing in 1672 which also marked the first British coin to bear the image of the Britannia. Since that time, the Britannia has been a popular theme for British coinage reverse images.
Gold-Traders (UK) has now established a separate business, The Britannia Coin Company of Royal Wootton Bassett. It specialises in retailing gold and silver coins, primarily gold & silver Britannias to investors and collectors. Customers can buy online or visit the showroom, which is just off J16 of the M4.
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