After 25 years the Royal Mint has abandoned Britannia Silver as a standard for UK coins.
First introduced under the 1696 Coinage Act to combat the melting down of sterling silver coins, the Royal Mint most recently revived the standard in 1987 for the introduction of the £2 Silver Britannia Coin. As a nod to its design, the Royal Mint opted to strike this coin to the Britannia standard – 958/1000 silver (95.8% pure).
Whilst this made the Silver Britannia Britain’s purest silver coin, it created a problem with its international popularity, as the rest of the world does not recognise this uniquely British silver standard.
For quarter of a century, the Mint continued to maintain the Britannia standard but this year they have finally abandoned it in favour of the more internationally accepted 999/1000 purity, bringing the silver Britannia in line with other 1 ounce silver coins, like the US Eagle, Chinese Panda and Canadian Maple Leaf.
For keen-eyed collector, you will notice the diameter and overall weight of the coin has fractionally reduced as less total metal is required from the new purer alloy to give the coin 1 full troy ounce of pure silver.
So what do you think? Is the loss of a long-held silver quality from the UK’s coinage a sad loss to tradition or should the Royal Mint move with the times and ensure that our nation’s coins remain amongst the most popular the world-over?