Iconic and particularly striking to look at, the gold Britannia coin has been a collector’s favourite for many years. In this article we’ve put together some fascinating facts about this timeless classic.
1. The Britannia can be traded across the globe
The Britannia gold coin is well established and familiar right across the globe so it can be traded in just about any country you can think of. In fact, with millions of ounces of gold and silver having been used in the Britannia’s minting process, it’s long been high on the list of most traded gold bullion coins on the planet.
2. The British gold Britannia first went into production in 1987
Throughout the 1970s and 80s, demand was growing for a 1oz British gold bullion coin that could hold its own against the ever-popular Canadian Maple, South African Krugerrand and the American Eagle.
Even now, 34 years later, the gold Britannia coin is still strictly manufactured to the very highest standards of quality and purity. It’s the centrepiece of many a collector’s portfolio, and it’s not hard to see why.
3. Ten years later the first silver Britannia came along
Silver Britannia coins began to be minted from 1997 onwards. That year it was only released as a proof coin, minted in ‘Britannia Silver’ of 958.0 purity. Since 2013, the silver 1oz coins have been manufactured in 999.0 silver.
4. The Britannia gold coin was the first to be produced in 91.6% gold
When it first hit the market in 1987, Britannia gold coins were alloyed with copper and 91.6% gold. The alloy was changed to silver three years later in 1990, giving it a yellow gold look rather than reddish. However, the 22-carat fineness was maintained until 2013 when it was increased to 999.9 – 24-carat gold.
5. The latest 2021 Britannia is now available – and it’s a little bit different
Designed by sculptor Philip Nathan, the back of the new 2021 coin features the familiar and iconic Britannia design. Brand new for this year, cutting-edge high-tech lasers have been used by the Royal Mint to create layers of new security features including micro text, a latent image, tincture lines and surface animation. Not only does this make the coin incredibly difficult to counterfeit, but adds a new dimension and interest to the original classic design.
6. Britannia first appeared on Roman coins as far back as 119AD
The ancient Roman name for Great Britain was actually ‘Britannia’ and as Romans typically personified countries as female figures she’s still an iconic image today. Roman coins around this time also used Britannia in representing the colonisation of a conquered Britain.
7. There’s been at least one coin depicting Britannia released under every British monarch – right back as far as the 17th Century
Britannia made somewhat of a comeback on Britain’s coins during the reign of Charles II. Her image represented her status as protector and ruler of the seas. Every monarch since then has seen her image displayed on at least one coin during their reign, although over time there have been subtle changes to her looks. Even so, Britannia has always been a great British icon of strength, freedom and unity.
8. Britannia gold coins won’t attract Capital Gains Tax
There are many benefits of buying gold and this is certainly one of them. But the Britannia gold coins (alongside gold UK Sovereign coin) specifically are not subject to Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in the UK. This is because the Britannia is part of the sterling currency and is therefore legal tender. It’s a big plus especially if you’re thinking of selling your gold Britannia.
9. Since 1987, the design of the coin has gradually altered
For the 1987 launch of the Britannia gold coin, sculptor Philip Nathan first portrayed the heroic figure of Britannia standing on rocks with her long robes flowing. In her left hand she is holding an olive branch while in her right she clutches her trident. She’s also resting on her shield, signifying protection and peace.
Although the main message behind the coin has always been the same, Britannia has slightly changed her pose in the coins released since. Sometimes she has been seated, while twice she has been in slightly differing standing poses. Once she rode a chariot, later she wore a helmet and one iteration showed her standing with the Union Jack flag.
10. It’s possible to pick up fractional sizes too
1oz gold Britannia coins are the most commonly thought of. However the Britannia gold coin is also available in smaller fractional sizes. These include one-quarter, one-half and one-tenth of a troy ounce. Face values are £10, £25 and £50.
There’s no doubt that the Britannia gold coin in all its iterations is a truly beautiful piece. And with such a varied and fascinating history behind it, the UK Britannia will sit proudly at the heart of any collection.