British Gold Britannia Bullion Coins


The British Gold Britannia is the flagship gold bullion coin of the Royal Mint, one of the most renowned mints in the world. The Gold Britannia coins were first produced in 1987. For many years, the coins were minted out of 91.67% pure gold. Since 2013, the coins are 99.99% pure. They are minted with brilliant uncirculated and proof finishes. Although the Gold Britannia coins have a standard design that is used in most years, there were certain years when a unique design of Britannia (the female idol who symbolizes the British Isles) was displayed on the coins.

Design

The obverse side of the British Gold Britannia coins depicts Queen Elizabeth II in profile. 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. The coin's face value appears underneath her majesty's portrait.

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.

obverse side of the 2015 British Gold Britannia coin
standard reverse side design on the 2015 British Gold Britannia coin

2015 British Gold Britannia

Gold Purity: 99.99%

(91.67% until 2012)

Weight Face Value Diameter x Thickness
5 oz £ 500 65 x ?? mm
1 oz £ 100 32.61 x 1.8 mm
(32.69 x 2.7 mm
until 2012)
1/2 oz £ 50 27 x 2.08 mm
1/4 oz £ 25 22 x 1.63 mm
1/10 oz £ 10 16.5 x 1.2 mm
1/20 oz £ 1 12 x 0.83 mm
1/40 oz 50 Pence 8 x ?? mm

standard reverse side design on the 2016 British Gold Britannia coin
obverse side of the 2016 British Gold Britannia coin

2016 British Gold Britannia

History

non-standard Britannia designs:

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.

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.

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).

Mintages

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.

British Silver Britannia Coins

The Royal Mint started minting Silver Britannia coins in 1997. Only proof coins of the 1 oz denomination were minted that year (mintage of 20.000). The reverse side of this 1997 silver proof coin shows Britannia driving a war chariot, the same design that appears on the 1997 and 2009 Gold Britannia coins. That design was again used on the 1999 Silver Britannias.

The silver coins were produced out of 95.8% fine silver until 2012. Since 2013, the British Silver Britannias are 99.9% pure. In the same year, the diameter of the 1 oz silver coin changed from 40 mm to 38.61 mm. Besides the 1 oz coin (£ 2 face value), British Silver Britannias exist in sizes of 1/2 oz (£ 1), 1/4 oz (50 Pence), 1/10 oz (20 Pence) and since 2013 also in 5 oz (£ 10) and 1/20 oz (10 Pence). The tiny 1/40 oz Silver Britannia was first issued in 2014.

obverse side of the 2015 British Silver Britannia coin
reverse side of the 2015 British Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia 2015

obverse side of the 2016 British Silver Britannia coin
reverse side of the 2016 British Silver Britannia coin

Silver Britannia 2016

Mintage of the bullion (BU) version of the silver coin was limited until 2012. Those mintage limits don't exist anymore since 2013 and brilliant uncirculated Silver Britannias are now minted according to the current demand. Proof coins are still minted in limited numbers though.

Just like the gold bullion coins, the Silver Britannias use the standard design of a standing Britannia on their reverse in most years. In addition to 1997 (on the proof coins) and 1999, alternative Britannia designs were engraved on the coins in 2001, 2003, 2005 and from 2007 until 2011. The silver coins displayed the same alternative design as the gold coins in those years (see above).

The standard design of a standing Britannia appears on the brilliant uncirculated Silver Britannia coins without interruption since 2012. The proof coins however display a different design each year since 2013.

In their first year of mintage, Silver Britannia coins displayed the "Third Portrait" of her majesty Queen Elizabeth II on their obverse side. The "Fourth Portrait" appeared on the coins between 1998 and 2015. Since 2016, Silver Britannia coins bear the "Fifth Portrait". The portraits are changed every now and then to show a more contemporary image of the Queen.

Special Sets and Editions

"Year of the Horse" privy mark Britannia 2014
privy marked Year of the Horse Gold Britannia coins 2014

coin denomination: 1 oz

A limited edition of 10.000 Gold Britannia coins of 1 oz with a unique privy mark along the rim was minted in 2014. 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.

4 Coin Gold Britannia Proof Set 1987 - 2012
1987 Gold Britannia 4 coin proof set

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.

5 Coin Gold Britannia Proof Set 2013
2013 Gold Britannia 5 coin proof set

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.

6 Coin Gold Britannia Proof Set since 2014
2015 Gold Britannia 6 coin proof set

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.

3 Coin Britannia Proof Set since 2014
2013 Gold Britannia 3 coin proof 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 just like for the 3 coin premium proof set.

3 Coin Britannia Premium Proof Set
2013 Gold Britannia 3 coin premium proof set

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).

gold vs. silver

Where to buy?

1 oz Silver Britannia Coin
reverse side of the 1 oz British Silver Britannia coin 2016
available Dealers:

BGASC

Buy 2016 coin
for about $ 19.91

Money Metals Exchange

Buy 2016 coin
for about $ 20.21
Silver Britannia 25x1oz roll
roll of 25 Silver Britannia coins of 1 oz each
available Dealers:

BGASC

Buy 2016 coins
for about $ 497.75
Silver Britannia 500x1oz box
Monster Box with 500 Silver Britannia coins of 1 oz each
available Dealers:

BGASC

Buy 2016 coins
for about $ 9,700.00