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Value and History: Silver Coins from The Royal Mint

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Royal Mint has been making silver coins since the time of the Anglo-Saxons, and maintains its prestigious reputation to this day.

Its exact origins are unclear but it can be traced back at least to the time of Alfred the Great in 866 and has unsurprisingly seen substantial changes since its conception. After spending most of its life based in the Tower of London, the Mint moved to a new base in Llantrisant, South Wales in the late 60s, ahead of the vast amount of work required for decimalisation.

Silver coins at The Royal Mint

In the 8th Century, silver coins were the most common type of currency. Back then, if you had 240 silver coins, or sterlings as they eventually came to be known, you would be holding roughly a pound in weight. A pound of silver, or £1 as we call it today, was considered a very substantial sum of money. Eventually, the terms 'pound' and 'sterling' came together to refer to our own currency that's in use today.

These early silver coins were made from the purest silver available to minters at the time, but in the 12th Century, it gradually reduced to a purity of 92.5 per cent, and was standardised at that percentage in 1300. That purity of silver came to be referred to as sterling silver, a term we still use to this day.

The Royal Mint continued to produce sterling silver coins in circulation until the middle of the 20th Century.

The current Royal Mint collection

Today The Royal Mint produces various commemorative silver bullion coins, which are popular with investors and coin collectors alike.

The most well-known of these is the Britannia series, which The Royal Mint has been producing silver coins for since 1997. Each variant of the popular Britannia series features the Britannia figure, a woman inspired by Boudicca who is considered 'the personification of Britain'.

The Britannia series of coins have a purity higher than that of traditional sterling silver, at 99.9 per cent.

Take a look at the new 2017 Britannia here, or browse our whole range of Royal Mint silver bullion coins.