Britannia Coin Designs
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The Royal Mint creates two primary coins for their collection: the Sovereign and the Britannia. This infopage is all about the Britannia coins, and how they have become one of the most recognisable coins in the world today.
The Mint's refinery in Llantrisant, Wales, is where production of these coins has taken place since the early 1970s, with silver and more recently platinum versions being added to the gold Britannia collections.
First made in 1987, Britannias have been produced each year for the last three decades. The silver Britannia was introduced in 1997 as a special anniversary proof edition, and bullion versions were released since 1998.
Like gold Sovereigns, the original gold Britannia coin was 22-carat in purity. This changed in 2013 when the Royal Mint improved the coin’s purity to 24-carats; a move driven by rival 24-carat coins produced by the US and Canadian Mints.
Silver Britannia coins were similarly minted at 958 fineness but in 2013 these coins changed to become 999.0 fine silver.
The Queen’s Portrait:
The image above going from left to right, top to bottom, shows the evolution of the Queen's portrait and her increasing age.
The young and decimal heads of Queen Elizabeth II were never used on Britannia coins. These began by the time the Royal Mint were onto the third portrait of the British monarch - a design made by Raphael Maklouf.
The most commonly seen design is the bottom left portrait, as created by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley. H is designs were used from 1998 until 2015 and many commonwealth nations still use this portrait.
Since 2015 the Royal Mint has used the fifth and likely final portrait of Queen Elizabeth (bottom right), as designed by Jody Clark – the first Mint employee to ever design a reigning monarch's portrait.
All Britannia coins currently use the classic Philip Nathan design of the Lady Britannia, with Nathan's surname visible as his signature beneath the woman's feet.
While the design has been on the majority of Britannia coins, the Royal Mint did mark special occasions with new designs, as well as having a run in the 2000s of alternate reverse designs, as listed below.
Traditional or ‘Classic’ Britannia:
Nathan's original design features a standing figure of the lady Britannia, complete with trident and shield.
Bullion Britannia coins between 2012 and 2017 used this design and still do, but proof coins in this period had unique designs on the reverse.
View our range of 1oz silver Britannias
The Chariot Britannia is based on the Celtic Queen, Boudicca (Boadicea), and sees the lady Britannia riding her mount with trident in hand.
The design was used in 1997 as a proof coin and again in 2003 as part of a 4-coin proof set, but the bullion coins only used this design in 2009.
View the 2009 gold Britannia coin
Inspired by Queen Victoria’s ‘Una and The Lion coin, this Britannia was a change from the classic look of both the lady Britannia and the coin's layout.
Britannia and the lion are both facing to left, and Nathan’s signature is beneath the lion’s mane.
Nathan's fourth design uses the same typeface as the 2001 coin, but this time with an additional tessellated effect to make the waves on the coin stand out.
The image is different from previous Britannias in that it is more of a portrait of the woman, rather than a depiction of a scene.
2005 was a return to a more classical design, and coincidentally Nathan's last Britannia. The reverse features Britannia sat down, with her trident and shield at her sides.
The first new designer of a Britannia coin, Le Brun's Britannia sits against a tree with the lion at her feet. Leaves run around half the coin, while the shield rests at her side and she holds with what appears to be an olive branch.
Sculptor John Bergdahl took over from Christopher Le Brun, and went for a more bolder and simpler design for his Britannia.
The coin reverse has the lady Britannia stood in the sea and the waves; trident in one hand, shield in the other.
A very small lighthouse is visible behind her in the distance, which has led some to describe this coin as The Lighthouse Britannia.
The Royal Mint changed designer again, opting for sculptor Suzie Zamit in 2010. Her design has a hand-drawn feel, perhaps a nod to early twentieth century French gold coins.
A sullen, weary Britannia is looking to the right of the coin, with leaves flanking the year 2010.
View the 2010 one ounce Britannia gold coin
View the 2010 four coin proof Britannia set
Mach's Britannia was one of the most technically ambitious Britannia coins attempted since Nathan's tessellated coin, and features a ripple effect with Britannia amongst a billowing Union Flag.
In an interview with the Royal Mint , Mach said: " I worked out a design with as much movement as I could for a small surface area; movement that would encourage people to turn the coin and watch the light shift over the surface like I had done with half-crowns as a boy."
View the 2011 1oz gold Britannia
Hunt's design was for the first of a batch of Proof Only coins for the Royal Mint collection, timed with the launch of the new, 24 carat coinage.
Britannia is sat on a chair with a Greek helmet on and a different style of trident. The Union Flag shield has disappeared, but instead an owl – a symbol of wisdom – sits on Britannia’s knee, and her bosom is more pronounced - a greater emphasis on her femininity.
View the 2013 1oz gold Britannia bullion coin
Jody Clark is a Royal Mint engraver. His first design, the 2014 Britannia, saw a much more elegant and shapely lady Britannia - poised almost like a model - standing with her back to the viewer.
Trident in one hand, shield in the other, the Greek helmet and a lion at her feet: this coin ticks the boxes in terms of what should or could feature on a Britannia coin, but with the geometric globe pattern in the background the image is reinvigorated and feels modern.
In less than a year from the production of this coin, Clark went on to become the first Mint employee to have their portrait of the reigning monarch used for the obverse of British coins.
View the rare 2014 Privy Horse edged gold Britannia 1oz coin
The painter and sculptor Antony Dufort succeeded Jody Clark with 2015's proof design. He continued with the plumed Greek helmet on Britannia, but the image is much more of a portrait of the woman rather than a scenario.
Like the 2008 Britannia, a miniscule lighthouse is visible in the background, while a ship sails inland from the horizon.
View the 2015 bullion gold Britannia
Zamit returned with another artistic piece of coin engraving for the Royal Mint, six years since her first design.
The design is more traditional, with Britannia stood with her trident, shield, and the lion by her side.
Like her previous work, this Britannia has a unique style of lines. The effect of being a drawn piece of art is a little less than previously, but it is still exquisitely detailed – especially on the Lion’s mane. .
View the 2016 Britannia gold bullion coin
British artist Louis Tamlyn was responsible for the anniversary edition Britannia coin. His design sees Britannia coming out of the British Isles, complete with plumed helmet, trident, and a shield.
There's a not-so-subtle hint of the Union Jack to the right of the coin – with LWT engraved in the middle to indicate Tamlyn’s work.
2017 – Britannia – 30th Anniversary Edition
To commemorate the 2017 anniversary for Sovereigns and Britannias, the Royal Mint added marks to the coins. Bullion Britannias had a small trident mark, just before the letter B for Britannia.
Both the gold and silver Britannia coins feature this mark, despite it being the anniversary for just the gold coins.
The background also features the new guilloche pattern in the background behind Britannia – a new design feature to discourage counterfeiting.
Only 7,030 gold bullion Britannias and 120,000 silver bullion Britannias were minted with the trident privy mark. .
The new Guilloche effect was used for all 2018 Britannia coins, having been successfully tested the year before.
The Queen's Beast series coins (the Unicorn and the Bull of Clarence) were the first to feature the pattern, ahead of the 2018 Brits.
2018 was also the year of release for the Platinum Britannia 1oz coin, limited to a mintage of 5000, and also bearing the guilloche pattern.
Please note that proof coins for the current year are exclusively sold by the Royal Mint unless sold back to us at BullionByPost.
2018 Oriental Border – Limited Edition:
In honour of the Royal Mint’s move into the Asian bullion market, a new Britannia design was commissioned. The border pattern was inspired by the Chinese rooms at Buckingham Palace and the Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
Production is limited to 5,000 gold Oriental Britannias and 100,000 silver Oriental Britannias.
For help ordering any of our Britannia coins, or for more information, please call our customer support team on 01 699 4396 or email us at email@example.com.