Mintage of the British Silver Britannia coins started in 1997, so a decade after the introduction of the popular British Gold Britannia coins. Only 1 oz proof coins were minted that first year though. In 1998, the Royal Mint started issueing brilliant uncirculated coins as well. The British Silver Britannias were minted out of 95.8% fine silver until 2012 with annual maximum mintage numbers in place. In 2013, the silver purity of the coins was raised to 99.9% and brilliant uncirculated Silver Britannias are since then minted according to market demand.
Just like the gold version, the silver version of the coins displays the female idol Britannia on the reverse side. The standard design that is used in most years shows a standing Britannia. There were certain years though when a unique design of that female idol who symbolizes the British Isles was displayed on the coins. Silver Britannia coins are available in sizes ranging from a tiny 1/40 oz up to 5 oz but some denominations are only available as proofs.
The coins have the status of legal tender in the UK which makes them exempt from the payment of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) there. Investors can buy the Britannia silver coins individually, in mint tubes of 25 coins and in mint boxes of 500 coins. Whereas the mintage of brilliant uncirculated coins is according to market demand, proof coins are subject to strict mintage limits.
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|5 oz||£ 10||99.9%||65 x ?? mm|
|1 oz||£ 2||99.9%*||38.61 x 3 mm**|
|1/2 oz||£ 1||99.9%*||27 x ?? mm|
|1/4 oz||50 Pence||99.9%*||22 x ?? mm|
|1/10 oz||20 Pence||99.9%*||16.5 x ?? mm|
|1/20 oz||10 Pence||99.9%||12 x ?? mm|
|1/40 oz||5 Pence||99.9%||8 x ?? mm|
* 95.8% pure until 2012
** 40 x ?? mm until 2012
The British Queen Elizabeth II is depicted in profile on the obverse side of the British Silver Britannia coins. 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. The applicable legal tender face value is also engraved on the obverse side of each coin.
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 silver weight, silver purity and year of mintage.
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. 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.
The image of Britannia was first used on ancient Roman coins during the rule of Emperor Hadrian. 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 Royal Mint started minting 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz and 1/10 oz Silver Britannia coins in 1997. Only proof coins were minted that year (mintage of 20,000) and the fractional coins were not available individually and only as a part of the inaugural year's proof set (see below). 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 used again 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.
New security features were introduced on the coins in 2017, the 20th anniversary year of the Silver Britannias. A trident-shaped mintmark with the number 20 within can be seen next to the beginning letter B of Britannia on the reverse of the coins. The background field behind the Britannia design on the reverse side is now filled with a radial sunburst design. That hard-to-duplicate design is meant as an added anti-counterfeiting measure.
The obverse side also changed in 2017 with the introduction of a new textured background. The obverse side had changed previously in 1998 and 2016 when the image of Queen Elizabeth II was each time updated to a newer version.
Since 2013, proof Silver Britannias display an annually changing special Britannia design on their reverse side. 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.
Mintage of the bullion (BU) version of the silver coin was limited until 2012 and you can see the mintage numbers below. Those mintage limits don't exist anymore since 2013 and the Royal Mint now produces brilliant uncirculated Silver Britannias according to the current demand. Proof coins are still minted in limited numbers though.
Mintage of the British Gold Britannia coins started in 1987. Their reverse side generally shows a helmet-clad standing Britannia holding an olive branch, shield and trident. In certain years, the design of the coin's reverse side differs from that standard design though. The coins were made out of 91.67% pure gold alloyed with copper at first. In 1990, the non-gold component changed from copper to silver. Both brilliant uncirculated and proof versions of the coins are offered. In 2013, the British Gold Britannias had their gold purity raised to 99.99%. Many different denominations of the coins between 1/40 oz and 5 oz are offered by Britain's Royal Mint.
The British Gold Britannia page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.
coin denomination: 1 oz
The first British Silver Britannias with a privy mark along the rim were issued in 2013. That year's privy mark was the symbol of a snake and privy marks that are inspired by the Chinese lunar calendar have been used repeatedly since then. The latest 2017 edition features eight Year of the Rooster symbols along the rim. The privy marked rim is also meant as an anti-counterfeiting measure by the Royal Mint.
total silver weight: 1.85 oz
4 coin Silver Britannia proof sets (1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz coins + certificate of authenticity) were issued from 1997 until 2012. Mintage started out with 15,000 sets in 1997 but has since declined (only 2,500 sets in 2010). The sets are packaged in an original mint box.
total silver 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. All included proof coins are limited editions.
total silver weight: 1.925 oz
After the Silver 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 silver coins, the 1/40 oz Silver 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. Mintage of these sets is limited.
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.