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.
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.
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
|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|
Silver Purity: 99.9%
(95.8% until 2012)
|Weight||Face Value||Diameter x Thickness|
|5 oz||£ 10||65 x ?? mm|
|1 oz||£ 2||38.61 x 3 mm
(40 x ?? mm
|1/2 oz||£ 1||27 x ?? mm|
|1/4 oz||50 Pence||22 x ?? mm|
|1/10 oz||20 Pence||16.5 x ?? mm|
|1/20 oz||10 Pence||12 x ?? mm|
|1/40 oz||5 Pence||8 x ?? mm|
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).
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 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.
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.