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The Royal Mint
Government-owned company
Industry Coin and medal production
Founded 886 AD
Headquarters Llantrisant, Wales
Area served
United Kingdom & British Overseas Territories
Key people
Adam Lawrence
(Chief Executive)[1]
Products Coins
Medals
Bullion
Revenue Increase £ 360.5 million (2015)[2]
Increase £ 13.1 million (2015)[2]
Increase £ 1.115 million (2015)[2]
Total assets Increase £ 58.232 million (2015)[2]
Total equity Increase £ 62.896 million (2015)[2]
Owner HM Treasury
Number of employees
900+
Website www.royalmint.com

The Royal Mint is the body permitted to strike British coins. The Royal Mint originated over 1,100 years ago, producing coins for England and eventually United Kingdom. Since 2010 it has operated as Royal Mint Ltd, a company owned by HM Treasury, under an exclusive contract to supply all coinage for the UK.[3] Royal Mint Ltd is 100% owned by HM Treasury, which delegates shareholder responsibilities to the Shareholder Executive.

As well as minting coins for the UK, The Royal Mint also mints and exports coins to many other countries and produces military medals, commemorative medals, and other such items for governments, schools and businesses, being known as the world's leading exporting mint.[3] Responsibility for the security of the site falls to the Ministry of Defence Police, who provide an armed contingent.

In 1968 The Royal Mint began to move its operations from Tower Hill in the City of London to Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, Wales, and has operated on a single site in Llantrisant since 1980.[4] At Llantrisant it holds an extensive collection of coins dating from the 16th century onwards, housed in eighty cabinets made by Elizabeth II's cabinet maker, Hugh Swann. The site occupies 38 acres (15 ha) and employs over 900 people.[5]

The annual Trial of the Pyx assays coins produced for the UK government for size, weight and chemical composition.

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
The Royal Mint moved from the Tower of London to new premises c.1809

The London Mint first became a single institution in 886,[6] during the reign of Alfred the Great, but was only one of many mints throughout the kingdom. By 1279 it had moved to the Tower of London, and remained there the next 500 years, achieving a monopoly on the production of coins of the realm in the 16th century. Sir Isaac Newton took up the post of Warden of the Mint, responsible for investigating cases of counterfeiting, in 1696, and subsequently held the office of Master of The Royal Mint from 1699 until his death in 1727. He unofficially moved the Pound Sterling to the gold standard from silver in 1717.

By the time Newton arrived, the Mint had expanded to fill several rickety wooden buildings ranged around the outside of the Tower. In the eighteenth century the processes for minting coins were mechanised and rolling mills and coining presses were installed producing milled coinage. The new machinery and the demand on space in the Tower of London following the outbreak of war with France led to a decision to move the Mint to an adjacent site in East Smithfield.

Royal Mint CourtEdit

 
Johnson Smirke Building

Work on the mint's new facility located on Tower Hill began in 1805 and was completed by 1809, however it was not until 1812 that the move became official when keys from the old mint were ceremoniously delivered to the Constable of the Tower.[7] Facing the front of the site stood the Johnson Smirke Building whose namesake comes from its designer James Johnson and builder Robert Smirke. This building was flanked on both sides by gatehouses behind which another building housed the mint's new machinery. A number of other smaller buildings were also erected which housed mint officers and staff members. The entire site was protected by a boundary wall which was patrolled by Royal Mint’s military guard.

Greater demand and new machinery which aimed at increasing its capacity forced the mint to be partially rebuilt in the 1880s and then again during World War II when it was bombed. Over the course of the war the Royal Mint was hit on several different occasions and at one point was put out of commission for three weeks. As technology changed with the introduction of electricity and demand continuing to grow, the process of rebuilding continued so that by the 1960s little of the original mint remained, apart from Smirke's 1809 building and its gatehouses at the front.

On 1 March 1966 the government announced its intention for the pound to be decimalised which would require a large-scale withdrawal and minting of millions of new coins, this, as well as commitments to overseas customers, meant the mint was to be faced with a heavy workload. Lack of space at the mint and with Decimal Day looming it became apparent that the mint needed to again relocate to a larger site. With a degree of urgency plans were made in April 1967 for a new site to be built outside of London, although over twenty sites were considered[8] the small Welsh town of Llantrisant located ten miles (16 km) north-west of Cardiff was chosen[9] Up until now improvements at the Tower Hill mint had cost £800,000.

Move to WalesEdit

 
Royal Mint in Llantrisant

Work on the new mint began in August 1967 with the construction of a blank treatment plant and plant for striking. This first phase of the mint was officially opened on 17 December 1968 by the royal attendance of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and their son Prince Charles. Originally there were fears that the Royal family would face protests because of the Investiture of Prince Charles as the Prince of Wales however such protests failed to materialise.[10] The second phase of construction began in 1973 and included the addition of a means to mint coins from virgin metals completing the full minting process. Upon completion the final cost for the land, buildings and plant came to £8 million.[11] Coin minting and production gradually shifted to the new site over the next seven years until the last coin, a gold sovereign, was struck in London in November 1975.

On 1 April 1975 The Royal Mint became a trading fund to help improve its efficiency by requiring it to become self-financing however in 2009 Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling recommended in his 2009 United Kingdom budget that the mint be made a company with a view of it being sold.[12] On the 31st of December that year the mint ceased to be an executive agency and its assets were vested in a limited company, Royal Mint Ltd. The owner of the new company became The Royal Mint trading fund, which itself continued to be owned by HM Treasury.

The Royal Mint ExperienceEdit

In April 2014 the Royal Mint announced plans for the development of a visitor centre in were member of the public could tour the facility and learn about the minting process. To fund the development a grant of £2.3 million was provided by the Welsh Government towards the mint resulting in a project worth £7.7 million.[13] In May 2016 the Royal Mint Experience opened at a final cost of £9 million to favourable applause.[14][15][16] Of the activities available visitors can watch coins being minted and strike their own £1 coin.

OperationsEdit

The Royal Mint exists principally to mint coins for circulation in the UK but also produces non-circulating commemorative coins and manufactures coins for over 60 other countries.[17] Medals and bullion also produced at the mint which include military medals and civilian decorations for the British Armed Forces and orders of chivalry.

Coin productionEdit

Between the 2015-16 financial year 2.4 billion coins and planchets were minted for the international market and 2,007 million the United Kingdom.

Coins minted (£ bn)
2015[2] 2014[2] 2013[18]
United Kingdom 2.007 2.384 1.996
International 2.4 2.2 2.0

BullionEdit

The Royal Mint currently produce two types of gold and silver bullion, namely coins and more recently bullion bars. In the United Kingdom bullion is subject to precious metal taxation with 20% VAT on silver and gold being exempt.[19]

Bullion barsEdit

 
Roayl Mint Refinery Seal

Bullion bars were first produced by the Royal Mint refinery in 1852 under the operation of N.M. Rothschild & Sons who handled most of the gold and silver entering London. After moving to Wales in 1968 the mint stopped making bars until 2015 when production restarted using the original Royal Mint Refinery hallmark.[20]

Bullion bars
Fineness Weights
.999 Gold 1 kg 500g 100g 1oz 10g 5g 1g
.999 Silver 1 kg 500g 100g n/a

Bullion coinsEdit

Minting of bullion coins began in 1957 to meet a demand for authentic sovereign coins which suffered from heavy counterfeiting. Coins were released almost every year alongside proof versions up to 1982 when production was discontinued. In 1987 the mint started to produce a new type of bullion coin, the 1oz Britannia coin which was gold and had a face value of £100. A silver version with a face value of £2 was also released in 1997. Production of the previously discontinued sovereign and half sovereigns resumed in 2000. In 2014 a lunar coin series begun being minted annually in celebration of Lunar New Year and in 2016 a series featuring The Queen's Beasts began.

Bullion coins
Type Face Value Diameter Weight Fineness Notes
Britannia One Ounce Gold £100 32.69mm 31.21g .999 [21]
One Ounce Silver £2 38.61mm 31.21g .999
Sovereign Sovereign £1 22.05mm 7.988g .916 [22]
Queen's Beasts One Ounce Gold £100 32.69mm 31.21g .999 [23]
Two Ounce Silver £5 38.61mm 62.42g .999
Lunar Series One Ounce Gold £100 32.69mm 31.21g .999 [24]
One Ounce Silver £2 38.61mm 31.21g .999

MedalsEdit

In 1922 a special Medal Unit was set up inside the mint which oversaw the manufacturing of all medals and decorations[25] except the Victoria Cross which is manufactured by jewery company Hancocks[26] From the 1970s to 2009, it produced all Order of the British Empire Insignia, this is now contracted out to companies with a royal warrant of appointment, such as Toye, Kenning & Spencer Ltd. During the 2012 Summer Olympics the mint produced 4,700 gold, silver and bronze medals.[27]

Trial of the PyxEdit

The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure in the United Kingdom for ensuring that newly-minted coins conform to required standards. The trials have been held since the twelfth century, normally once per calendar year, and continue to the present day. The form of the ceremony has been essentially the same since 1282. They are trials in the full judicial sense, presided over by a judge with an expert jury of assayers. Trials are now held at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, having previously taken place at the Palace of Westminster[28] Given modern production methods, it is unlikely that coins would not conform, although this has been a problem in the past as it would have been tempting for the Master of the Mint to steal precious metals.

The term "Pyx" refers to the boxwood chest (in Greek, πυξίς, pyxis) in which coins were placed for presentation to the jury. There is also a Pyx Chapel (or Pyx Chamber) in Westminster Abbey, which was once used for secure storage of the Pyx and related articles.

Coins to be tested are drawn from the regular production of The Royal Mint. The Deputy Master of the Mint must, throughout the year, randomly select several thousand sample coins and place them aside for the Trial. These must be in a certain fixed proportion to the number of coins produced. For example, for every 5,000 bimetallic coins issued, one must be set aside, but for silver Maundy money the proportion is one in 150.

The trial today consists of an inquiry independent of the royal mint[29]

The jury is composed of Freemen of the Company of Goldsmiths, who assay the coins provided to decide whether they have been minted within the criteria determined by the relevant Coinage Acts.[30]

AwardsEdit

2014 Coin of the Year: Best Contemporary Event Coin ‒ 2012 London Olympic Games[31]

2013 Wales Innovation Award: iSIS Security Technology[32]

2010 Coin of the Year: Best Gold Coin ‒ £100 Olympic Games Faster Series: Neptune[31]

1973 Queen's Awards for Enterprise[33]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Chief Executive: Adam Lawrence". The Royal Mint. Retrieved 25 April 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "The Royal Mint Limited Annual Report 2015-16" (PDF). Royal Mint. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  3. ^ a b "www.royalmint.com". Royal Mint website. The Royal Mint. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "www.royalmint.com". Royal Mint website. Royal Mint. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "www.royalmint.com/aboutus". Royal Mint website. Royal Mint. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "The Royal Mint". Museum Victoria Collections. 
  7. ^ "Tower Hill". Royal Mint. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  8. ^ Pearson, Arthur (26 March 1970). "Royal Mint". Hansard. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  9. ^ "A New Royal Mint". Royal Mint. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  10. ^ Queen Opens New Mint (1968). Pathé News. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  11. ^ Taverne, Dick (17 March 1970). "Royal Mint (Move)". Hansard. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  12. ^ Bawden, Anna (22 April 2009). "Budget 2009: Thousands of public sector jobs at risk". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2017. 
  13. ^ "The Royal Mint announces plans for first visitor centre". Royal Mint. 24 April 2014. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  14. ^ "The Royal Mint Experience". Trip Advisor. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  15. ^ Boyce, Lee (31 January 2017). "Ever wondered how your coins are made? LEE BOYCE takes a trip to the Royal Mint in Wales to find out (and discovers they are actually pickled...)". This is Money. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  16. ^ Doran, Lorna (17 May 2016). "Everything you need to know about The Royal Mint Experience". Wales Online. Retrieved 28 April 2017. 
  17. ^ "About the Royal Mint". Royal Mint. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  18. ^ "The Royal Mint Limited Annual Report 2014-15" (PDF). Royal Mint. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  19. ^ "Is Gold and Silver Bullion Subject to VAT?". bullionbypost.co.uk. Retrieved 29 April 2017. 
  20. ^ Oliver, Dan (21 January 2015). "Gold bars now available from The Royal Mint". Royal Mint. Retrieved 29 April 2017. 
  21. ^ "Gold Britannias Index Page". taxfreegold.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  22. ^ "British Gold Sovereigns - Information". taxfreegold.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  23. ^ "British Queen's Beasts Coin Series". taxfreegold.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  24. ^ "British Chinese Lunar Calendar Coins". taxfreegold.co.uk. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  25. ^ "Royal Mint: Medals". National Archive. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  26. ^ "Victoria Cross". hancocks-london.com. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  27. ^ Ruddick, Graham (16 December 2010). "London 2012 Olympics: Royal Mint wins contract to make medals". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2017. 
  28. ^ "www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk". The Goldsmiths' Company. The Goldsmiths' Company. 2004. Retrieved 2 September 2008. 
  29. ^ "Trial of the Pyx". 
  30. ^ "www.royalmint.com". Royal Mint website. Royal Mint. 27 March 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  31. ^ a b "Coin of the Year Awards". numismaster.com. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  32. ^ "The Royal Mint wins 'Wales Innovation Award 2013' for iSIS". Coins Weekly. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 
  33. ^ "Fresh impetus". Royal Mint Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2017. 

External linksEdit