The British Gold Britannia coins are minted since 1987 as the flagship gold bullion coin of Britain's Royal Mint, one of the most renowned mints in the world. The coins are known and named for their display of the female idol Britannia on their reverse side. Although the British Gold Britannias have a standard design that is used in most years, there were certain years when a unique design of that female idol who symbolizes the British Isles was displayed on the coins.
From their inaugural issue until 2012, the coins were minted out of 91.67% pure gold. In 2013, the gold purity was raised to 99.99%, making the coins join the ranks of the 24 karat gold bullion coins. Both brilliant uncirculated and proof versions of the coins are offered. Gold Britannias are sold individually, in mint tubes of 10 coins and in mint boxes containing 100 coins. The 1/40 oz Gold Britannia is actually Britain's smallest gold coin and the largest Britannias are 5 oz.
Their legal tender status makes all Gold Britannias exempt from the payment of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in the UK (and VAT free in the UK and EU). The coins are eligible to be included in Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA's). Actual annual mintage depends on the current market demand and final mintage numbers are not published by the Royal Mint.
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|5 oz||£ 500||99.99%||65 x ?? mm|
|1 oz||£ 100||99.99%*||32.69 x 1.8 mm**|
|1/2 oz||£ 50||99.99%*||27 x 2.08 mm|
|1/4 oz||£ 25||99.99%*||22 x 1.63 mm|
|1/10 oz||£ 10||99.99%*||16.5 x 1.2 mm|
|1/20 oz||£ 1||99.99%||12 x 0.83 mm|
|1/40 oz||50 Pence||99.99%||8 x ?? mm|
* 91.67% pure until 2012
** 38.61 x ?? mm in 2013; 32.69 x 2.7 mm until 2012
The obverse side of the British Gold Britannia coins depicts Queen Elizabeth II in profile. The design of the obverse side of the coin first changed in 1998 when Queen Elizabeth II's "Third Portrait" was replaced by the "Fourth Portrait" bearing a more mature likeness of her majesty. The current "Fifth Portrait" of an older Queen is displayed on the coins since 2016. The corresponding legal tender face value is also engraved on the obverse side of each coin.
The reverse side with its Britannia design was inspired by ancient Roman coins. It was during the rule of the Roman Emperor Hadrian that coins were first produced featuring the Britannia image. In Roman times, Britannia was used as a term for what is now Great Britain. The Roman figure Boudica with its similar look may have been the inspiration for the Britannia image.
The standard reverse design depicts a helmet-clad standing Britannia holding an olive branch and shield in her left hand and a long trident in her right. The reverse side also displays the coin's actual gold weight, gold purity and year of mintage.
Production of the British Gold Britannia coins started in 1987. Until 2012, the coins were made out of 91.67% gold (22 carat). In 1990, the other non-gold component was changed from copper to silver. The 1/20 oz coin was only added to the series in 2013, the same year that the gold purity was raised from 91.67% to 99.99% (24 carat). The 1/40 oz coin was added to the series in 2014.
The year 2017 saw the introduction of a new security feature on the Britannia coins. Now, the background field behind the Britannia design on the reverse side is filled with a radial sunburst design. That hard-to-duplicate design is meant as an added anti-counterfeiting measure.
The design of the British Gold Britannia coins changed frequently. The design of the obverse side of the coin changed in 1998 when Queen Elizabeth II's "Third Portrait" was replaced by the "Fourth Portrait" bearing a more mature likeness of her majesty. Since 2016, the coins display the "Fifth Portrait" showing an older Queen.
The design of the coin's reverse side differs from the standard design in the years 1997 (Britannia driving a war chariot), 2001 (Britannia with a male lion), 2003 (head portrait of a leftward facing Britannia), 2005 (seated Britannia), 2007 (seated Britannia with a male lion by her side), 2008 (Britannia near the sea with a lighthouse in the background), 2009 (Britannia driving a war chariot - same as in 1997), 2010 (portrait of Britannia wearing a Corinthian-style helmet and looking to the right) and 2011 (seated Britannia with the superimposed British flag).
A limited annual mintage of 99.99% pure 5 oz Gold Britannia coins with a face value of 500 Pounds are produced since 2013, albeit only as proof coins. These 5 oz proof coins display an annually changing special Britannia design on their reverse side. That same design appears on proof coins of the other denominations as well. In 2013, proof coins showed a seated Britannia with an owl sitting on her lap. The 2014 design showed a standing Britannia with a seated lion in front of a giant sphere. The 2015 proofs display Britannia in profile looking to the left with the seashore and a ship in the background. On the latest available 2016 proof coins, Britannia stands looking out near the seashore again, this time with a majestic lion by her side.
The Royal Mint produces the Britannia gold bullion coins in unlimited mintage each year. Actual and accurate production figures are not available as the annual mintage depends on market demand and the gold supply that is available to the mint.
The Royal Mint started issuing British Silver Britannia coins in 1997, but only as 1 oz proofs at first. Brilliant uncirculated coins are minted since 1998. The coins were minted out of 95.8% fine silver until 2012. The silver purity was raised to 99.9% in 2013. Since then, brilliant uncirculated British Silver Britannias are minted according to market demand without an annual maximum mintage. Just like the gold version, the coins display the standard design of a standing Britannia in most years. Proof coins display a different Britannia design each year since 2013. Many different denominations of the coins between 1/40 oz and 5 oz exist and some denominations are only available as proofs.
The British Silver Britannia page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.
coin denomination: 1 oz
British Gold Britannia coins with a unique privy mark along the rim are minted since 2014. That year, eight galloping horses (dedicated to the Chinese "Year of the Horse") were stamped into the rim of the coin. The minting technology used in this process was a first for the Royal Mint. Every subsequent privy marked edition has also had a symbol for the current year's Chinese zodiac animal engraved along the rim. Annual mintage of the privy marked 1 oz Gold Britannias is always capped.
total gold weight: 0.35 oz
This set was released in the first year that Gold Britannia coins were minted. It contains a proof 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz Gold Britannia from 1987. The coins were still 91.67% pure back then. A certificate of authenticity is included with the coins in the original mint box.
total gold weight: 1.85 oz
4 coin Gold Britannia proof sets (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins + certificate of authenticity) were issued from 1987 until 2012. Mintage started out with 10.000 sets in 1987 and then declined regularly down to 550 sets in 2012. Limited Edition presentations of this set include a bonus medaillon in some years.
total gold weight: 1.9 oz
With the addition of the 1/20 oz coin to the Britannia lineup in 2013, the proof set changed to a 5 coin set (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz) that year. Furthermore, proof Britannia coins (both gold & silver) bear an annually changing special Britannia design on their reverse side since 2013 as well.
total gold weight: 1.925 oz
After the Gold Britannia proof set had expanded to 5 coins in 2013 with the addition of the 1/20 oz coin, the proof set expanded again by one coin in 2014. One of the world's smallest gold coins, the 1/40 oz Gold Britannia coin, was added to the 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz and 1/20 oz coins that had already been in the set.
total gold weight: 0.175 oz
This proof set contains the three smallest Gold Britannias, the coins in the denominations of 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz and 1/40 oz. The set is packaged in a beautiful wooden box and a certificate of authenticity is included. Mintage of this set is severely limited (250 sets in 2015) just like for the 3 coin premium proof set below.
total gold weight: 0.85 oz
Proof coins bear an annually changing special Britannia design on their reverse side since 2013. The 3 coin Premium Proof Set contains the 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz proof coins. A certificate of authenticity is included as well. Annual mintage of these sets is severely limited (about 100 - 125 sets).
total gold weight: 1 oz
total silver weight: 1 oz
The two included 1 oz coins in this 2017 Anniversary Set are a 99.99% pure Gold Britannia and a 99.9% pure Silver Britannia coin from 2017. Both brilliant uncirculated coins feature the new radial sunburst pattern behind the Britannia design on the reverse as an anti-counterfeiting measure. The year 2017 sees the 30th anniversary of the Gold Britannia and the 20th anniversary of the Silver Britannia coin.