British Silver Coins: For Investors and Collectors
London's Royal Mint has been issuing the coins of the realm for more than a thousand years. Today, gold and silver investors can purchase silver and gold mint coins, like British coins, and grab a piece of history. And they will receive beautiful coins at a low cost to boot!
The Royal Mint produces standard 1-ounce silver coins as well as some larger 2-ounce and 10-ounce coins in limited mintages. The coins are, without exception, well-crafted and worthy of showing off.
In 1997, the Royal Mint produced 20,000 one-ounce silver Britannia's, and these initial coins were made as proofs with a beautiful, mirror finish. Silver Britannia's have been produced yearly since then, including in the lower-cost bullion strike version.
You can easily buy Britannia coins dated with the current year at relatively low prices now as an investment.
The current British Silver Britannia has a textured finish on both sides. The reverse side features Britannia, the female embodiment of the British Isles, holding a trident in her right hand and a shield with the Union Jack logo in her left hand. The obverse side has a new portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It is the famous right-profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.
The coin contains one ounce of pure .999 silver. The coin is stamped with its weight, purity, and 2-pound denomination. It is a legal tender, backed by the government of Great Britain.
The 2014 design included a Horse Privy Silver Britannia Coin has a face value of 2 GBP and one troy ounce of .999 fine silver. It has eight "Year of the Horse" stamps on its outer rim. The reverse features a profile portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and the obverse has a striking design of Lady Britannia.
A History of the British Mint
The Royal Mint is owned by the government and produces all coins for the United Kingdom. It's a limited company owned by Her Majesty's Treasury. It was an executive government agency until 2009. Now the mint is state-owned and has added bullion trade and a visitor's center to its operation.
British silver coins and other coins were first produced in the UK by Kentish tribes around 80-60 B.C. The Romans set up mints across Britain after a successful invasion, and the mints remained until Roman rule ended. Coins weren't minted again in Britain until 650 A.D. when mints appeared in London and across the country.
In 886 A.D., silver pennies with the portrait of Alfred the Great were released, and this is thought to be the origin of the current design of coins produced by the Royal Mint.
1279 to 1900s
The mints across Britain were consolidated in the Tower of London in 1279. Parliament seized control of the Tower of London Mint in 1642, during the English Civil War. After the execution of Charles I, Britain was referred to as the "Commonwealth of England" and issued coins that used English, not Latin, for inscriptions.
In 1696, Isaac Newton became the warden of the mint and established a successful campaign to combat counterfeiting.
Britain opened up mints in its overseas territories in India, South Africa, Canada, and Australia in the 1800s and early 1900s, many of which continue to operate today. Though the Mints are no longer under the control of the British government, many continue to issue coins featuring Queen Elizabeth II.
Late 20th and 21st Centuries
British silver coins, along with other coins, were minted in a new facility in Wales beginning in 1968. Due to the financial crisis of the 1970s, the Mint became a self-financed trading fund in 1975.
The mint began selling jewelry, figurines, and commemorative plaques in the early 2000s. Although popular with customers, many of the products were poorly designed. In 2015, the mint began making coins and bullion bars under the Royal Mint Refinery Brand.
Five of the Most Valuable British Coins for Investors
For investment purposes, buyers can choose some of the older British silver coins or new and popular silver bullion coins. Examples include:
- The 10-ounce Silver Queen's Beast Unicorn Coin proof. There are ten different designs in the Queen's Beast series. The proof coin should come with a certificate of authenticity (COA) to ensure you're getting the real thing. This enormous coin has 10 Troy oz of .999 pure silver and is limited to an 850-coin mintage.
- The 2017 one-kilo-proof Queen's Beast Lion Coin is one of the most valuable coins in the series. It has a face value of 500 pounds and contains 32.15 Troy ounces (one kilo) of .999 pure silver. The mint released only 600 of these coins.
- The 2007 Abolition of the Slave Trade Two Pound Silver Proof Coin has an erroneous inscription on the edge of the coin which reads "United into one Kingdom." It's not known how many coins have this mistake, but these error coins have recently sold for 1,100 pounds or more.
- For investors who collect older coins, there's the 1899 Great Britain Silver Maundy four-coin set. It was initially released by the British Crown on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday.
- The 2016 one-ounce Silver Monkey coin is a good option, particularly if you have a limited amount of money to invest. It is 99.9 percent pure silver and has a proof-like sheen. The coin has a face value of two pounds and a Mint State 69 grade from the NGC.