Precious metal investors have the option to buy silver coins with the Britannia image since 1997. That's when the British Silver Britannia coins were introduced to the market, a decade after the British Gold Britannia coins and long before the British Platinum Britannia coins. Only proof coins were minted in the first year. 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. Britannia silver bullion coins are available in sizes ranging from a tiny 1/40 oz up to 20 oz but some denominations are only available as proofs.
The coins that are sometimes also referred to as Great Britain Silver Britannia 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. American buyers that are investing in silver for their retirement should take note that Silver Britannia coins are not IRA-eligible due to their initial lower silver purity.
|Weight||Face Value||Purity||Diameter x Thickness|
|20 oz||£ 250||99.9%||100 x ?? mm|
|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 each British Silver Britannia coin. In their first year of mintage, the 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. The current "Fifth Portrait" appears on the obverse side of the British Britannia silver coins since 2016. 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 Silver Britannia.
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 Britannias, the silver version of the Britannia coins uses the standard reverse design of a standing Britannia in most years. In addition to 1997 (on the proof coins), alternative Britannia designs were engraved on the coins in 1999, 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 version of the British Silver Britannia 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.
For the 2021 edition of the Silver Britannia coins, four new security features were added to the reverse side design in an effort to combat counterfeiting. These highly advanced anti-counterfeiting security features were also introduced on the Gold Britannia coins that same year.
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 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.
Each Silver Britannia coin was 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 coins (£ 2 face value), British Britannia silver coins also 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 British Britannia silver coin was first issued in the tiny size of 1/40 oz in 2014.
New security features were introduced on the coins in 2017, the 20th anniversary year of the Britannia silver 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.
To mark the Silver Britannia's 20th anniversary, a limited mintage of 120,000 coins with a special mint mark were issued. This trident-shaped mint mark with the number 20 within can be seen next to the beginning letter B of Britannia on the reverse of these coins. This special mintmarked issue was also the first to introduce a new guilloché background design on the obverse side. That background appears on the 'regular' non-mintmarked Britannia silver bullion coins since 2018. The obverse side had been changed previously in 1998 and 2016 when the image of Queen Elizabeth II was each time updated to a newer version.
The 2021 edition of the coins then became even more counterfeit-proof with the implementation of four highly advanced security features that arguably set a new standard for coin security in the world.
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. That design was also used on the 78,644 (of an issue limit of 100,000) special commemorative 50 Pounds Silver Britannia coins that were issued in 2015. These 31 gram brilliant uncirculated coins out of 99.9% pure silver were the UK's first ever commemorative £50 coins. With a diameter of 34 mm, they also differed from the 1 oz BU and proof coins in their size.
The 2015 proofs then displayed Britannia in profile looking to the left with the seashore and a ship in the background. On the 2016 proof coins, Britannia stands looking out near the seashore again, this time with a majestic lion by her side. The Britannia design on the 2017 proof coins is meant to show a Britain that is evolving while simultaneously remaining rooted in history. The 2017 proof version of the British Silver Britannia coins also features an anniversary trident mint mark with the number 20 as a way to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the coin. Furthermore, a 20 oz proof Silver Britannia (max. mintage of only 350 coins) was released in 2017, the first 20 oz silver coin in the Royal Mint's history.
The Britannia on the 2018 proof coins wears a helmet that is adorned with flowers. The 2019 proof coins then show Britannia next to a lion while holding Poseidon's trident and a shield. She is also shown holding trident and shield on the 2020 proof coins on which she stands firmly while facing strong wind near the sea.
In 2018, the Royal Mint also issued a special 1 oz Silver Britannia coin whose reverse design features an ornate oriental border. This oriental border design was inspired by the Chinese-themed rooms at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. Another Oriental Border Silver Britannia that was similarly inspired was then issued in 2019. Silver Britannia coins with yet another different kind of oriental border (this time inspired by the British Trade Dollar) were then again issued in 2020. Whereas 100,000 Oriental Border Silver Britannias were minted in 2018, annual mintage of these special coins was reduced to 50,000 pieces in 2019 and 2020.
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 British Silver Britannia coins according to the current market demand. Actual and accurate production figures are not available. The annual mintage numbers of proof coins are strictly limited 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 30 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.
For the 20th anniversary of the popular Gold Britannias in 2007, Britain's Royal Mint released the first limited mintage of proof Platinum Britannias. In 2018, the coins were then first released as bullion coins. The female idol Britannia is displayed on the reverse side of the platinum version of the coins, just like on the gold and silver version. Brilliant uncirculated coins are available in the two sizes of 1 oz and 1/10 oz. The coins are 99.95% fine just like all contemporary platinum bullion coins. The British Platinum Britannia coins are fully backed by the British government that guarantees their weight and purity. The legal tender coins are also exempt from the UK Capital Gains Tax.
The British Platinum Britannia page gives more information about the coins and allows you to compare current prices.
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. The coins were still minted out of 95.8% fine silver during this period. Mintage started out with 15,000 sets in 1997 but declined in the years that followed (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 silver weight: 2 oz
As far as could be ascertained, the Royal Mint issues such 2 coin Silver Britannia proof sets since 2016. These limited mintage sets always contain a regular 1 oz proof Silver Britannia coin alongside a reverse proof 1 oz coin. For the 2020 edition of the set (which has a mintage limit of 700 sets), the reverse proof coin has been labeled as a reverse frosted coin.