Britannia Silver Bullion Coins

The Royal British Mint issued the first Silver Britannia coins in proof format in 1997. This was followed by the issuance of 1 oz. silver bullion coins in 1998 and each subsequent year. While these coins have typically carried a lower profile than other world silver bullion coins, this status may be changing.

For each year of issue, the obverse design of the coin has featured the Ian Rank Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The reverse has carried an image of Britannia, which at first alternated between standing Britannia designed by Philip Nathan and a new version created for odd numbered years. This pattern changed after 2006. Eventually, the standing Britannia design was brought back for the 25th anniversary of the Britannia series in 2012.

The 1 oz. silver bullion coins carry a legal tender face value of £2. The composition is “Britannia Silver” or 95.8% purity. Each coin has a weight of 32.454 grams (including 1 troy ounce of pure silver) and a diameter of 40 mm.

A summary of the design and mintage for each year of release for the silver bullion coins is included below.

1998-2012 Britannia Silver Bullion Coins

Date Design Mintage
1998 Standing Britannia 88,909
1999 Chariot 69,394
2000 Standing Britannia 81,301
2001 Una and the Lion 44,816
2002 Standing Britannia 48,215
2003 Britannia’s Helmet 73,721
2004 Standing Britannia 100,000*
2005 Seated Britannia 100,000*
2006 Standing Britannia 100,000*
2007 Seated Britannia and Lion 100,000*
2008 Britannia on Beach 100,000*
2009 Chariot 100,000*
2010 Corinthian Helmet 100,000*
2011 Billowing Union Flag 100,000*
2012 Standing Britannia 100,000*
*number authorized

In recent years, the bullion coins have been limited to an annual issuance of 100,000 coins, which is extremely low compared to the multiple millions of silver bullion coins issued each year by some other countries. The Silver Britannia coins have also typically been priced at a higher premium.

The limited mintage, pricing, and alternating designs seemed to target the coins at a different segment of the market than bulk bullion purchasers. Based on announcements made earlier this year, the Royal Mint is seeking to change this status and expand into their presence in the world bullion market.

Starting with the 2013-dated coins to be issued in November 2012, the composition will be changed to 99.9% purity, which is used for most other world silver bullion coins. The style of packaging will be changed to more of a bulk format. Finally, the coins will no longer be subject to the 100,000 limited mintage, but will be minted to order.

If the expansion is successful and the Silver Britannia coins gain a greater penetration within the market, this seems like it would have a favorable impact on earlier bullion issues. From a collector standpoint, the series has some points of interest such as the diversity of designs and what may prove to be extremely lower mintages for the issues of 1998 to 2012 compared to the subsequent issues. This may be a bullion series to watch in the coming years.

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Comments

  1. Nate says

    Very excited to see this as the new article, Michael. I’ve always liked the Britannia series because of the rotating design. I personally don’t like to collect ASEs because they all essentially look the same.

    I had considered starting a Britannia collection last year but dismissed the idea because of some of the issues you’ve mentioned here (higher premiums, lower popularity). With the recent announcements by the Royal Mint that they will be attempting to broaden the investor appeal, my first reaction was to think that this could be favorable to collector premiums on the low mintage issues.

    I want to start a collection of these coins, but now my issue is trying to find a dealer that has them available for purchase. Does anyone have some good online sources for Britannias (past, current and future years)?

  2. saucexx says

    Shhhh :-$ I’ve been working on this before the prices jump.

    I’m a big fan of Britannias even with their high premiums.

  3. ultra-crepidarian says

    I like these coins. I have a few proof coins in the series. The mint seems to have a problem with milk spots developing on the proof coins (I don’t know about the bullion coins). I have seen a number of recent coins that graded as PR 70s but developed spotting after being certified.

  4. Nate says

    According to this recent coin world article, the 2013 Britannia will be released in November with the Standing Liberty design. BUT there will be BU and Proof versions of the 2013 Britannia released in April that will feature a different reverse design. Two different designs for the 2013 Britannia? What up with that?

    “A different reverse design than Nathan’s standard will be used for Brilliant Uncirculated and Proof versions of the Britannia coins, which are to be launched in April 2013.”

    http://www.coinworld.com/articles/royal-mint-adopting-pure-gold-silver-for-brit/

  5. says

    I really like the silver Britannias, and they are among my favorite bullion coins. They’re much more exciting to look at than the relatively bland Canadian maple or Austrian philharmonic. I think the premiums on them are a bit high as others have mentioned, but then again, I’m someone who buys the occasional two ounce bullion dragon for “stacking purposes.” The premiums are high, but they are definitely not the highest out there.

    I’ll second the suggestion of Samuel’s link, Nate. I haven’t yet done business with them, but Schalk also recommended them to me at one point, and the owner of the store regularly comments on Louis Golino’s Coin Week articles.

  6. VABEACHBUM says

    I have been a fan of the Britannia series for some time, and have been fascinated with some of the unique REV designs. I currently have two complete, running sets of the Britannia UNC coins, as well as one complete, running set of their “Display Packaging” line. Yeah, I know Lizzy is always on the OBV; if her subjects can live with it, I can, too!! (Which begs the side-bar question: When her reign comes to a close, and I sincerely hope that is no time soon, will this series close, too??)

    WRT spotting and other concerns, I don’t focus on the current PR versions, but I have seen several listings for PR 69 & 70 coins that had obvious haze and spotting. Like you, not sure why, but it might be the alloy – which is another thing to look for when pursing the ’98 – ’12 Britannia coins. Their Ag-Cu Alloy is very suseptible to toning if not properly sealed or otherwise protected from environmental conditions.

    If the Royal Mint is intent on pursuing their share of the world bullion markets and do increase Britannia production moving forward, I agree that these 14 coins should begin to see a steady appreciation as new collectors attempt to compile a complete set. But, if the RM is intent on establishing distinctly different Bullion, UNC and PR coins, these subsequent UNC and PR issues might be considered extensions of the current, respective series while the Bullion could be a new series starting point for current and future collectors. I think any classification, or possible reclassification, will depend upon the fit, finish and packaging of these future issues. Either way, I like this series and plan on staying with it.

  7. Samuel says

    Captain, i did not buy from the Chard, but i did browse their website a lot. they have plenty of pictures, and their websites are very messy, with many beautiful products just need to call in to check availability, which usually come back disappointed. i dont like the way the transaction is done, u have to mail in a check to UK, no online stuff. i personally like to explore small UK local coin dealer websites to find deals.

  8. Nate says

    Guys, thanks for the background on that website. I wish I could find someplace local so I could see condition in person before buying. Even at the monthly coin show around here there’s only one or two dealers that have world coins and I don’t think they have Britannias unfortunately.

    VA – One thing I’ve been confused about so far is the product options for Britannias. I can’t find a good website that describes what has been offered. I know the proofs have been done since ’97. The bullion since ’98. What I can’t figure out is if there is a difference between bullion vs BU vs uncirculated Britannias. Are those terms used interchangeably to describe Britannias. For ASEs we know there are 3 types: proof, uncirculated and bullion. What is the ‘Display Packaging’ line you refer to above?

  9. VABEACHBUM says

    Nate – Through 2012, there are two versions. The PR and “the other,” for which the terms BU and UNC have been used interchangably.

    By definition, BU means “brilliant uncirculated” and typically refers to ungraded bullion coins and other, business strike coins that have not been released into circulation. UNC usually has more of a numismatic collectible connotation: A special issue or series such as the 2006 – 2008 & 2011 UNC ASE coins with the “W” mint mark and burnished finish.

    Bottom line – Damn confusing. But, based on this thread, Michael’s April Britannia thread and other articles, 2013 will include three distinctly different Silver Britannia Coins: Bullion, PR, and UNC (collectible). Like I said previously; fit, finish and presentation.

    As for the packaging, the Royal Mint currently offers these BU Britannias in two different formats: blister packs and retail packaging. The blisters have been in place since the BUs started in ’98. Best I can figure, the “packaged” versions started in 2002. At least, that’s the earliest I have been able to find. Each package includes info on the coin, artwork, artists, mintages, etc.

    To get a look at a “display packaging” example, please check the following link:

    http://www.royalmint.com/shop/the_2011_uk_britannia_1oz_silver_bullion_coin

    They also are offering a 2012 version, but the 2011 version offers more visual appeal.

  10. G says

    Hmm-these are really nice coins. I’m new to this series. What’s a reasonable premium on these?

  11. Zwiggy says

    Check eBay, the premium on these is down a bit recently to about 50% over spot on average (while the first 4 years sell for about 100% over spot). The premium was more like 75% about 2 months ago. The current year is always generally 30% over spot. That might change next year.

    A “complete” set would probably include the 1997 proof. Thankfully, if you don’t want it (or want to shell out over $200+ for it) the design is repeated on the 1999 coin.

    This is the best bullion series to collect IMO. If you can keep them in the blister packing it is the best because I have seen whitening even on my UNC coins that I put in 2×2 flips. It is always a “haze” though, not spots, so it does not look too bad.

  12. ROS says

    I can conform that there are major quality issues with this year.

    All of mine came sealed in sheets (I thought tubes of 20 were going to be the new method?)

    All had obvious issues that were part of the coin before it went into the sheet.

    Composition change from .958 to .999 has resulted in scuffed coins ,
    tumbler reed impressions, especially Queen side/check) from sealed Mint sheets.

    R

  13. says

    Thanks for your comments regarding our sites – we are trying to make them friendlier for overseas customers. One of our targets for this year is to completely re-design our stock database and websites.

    Anyway, regardless of that we can confirm that the quality of the 2013 ‘bullion’ Britannia is sub-standard as ROS says and we have seen thousands of them.

    We will still sell them, a) because we’d hate for people’s collections to be missing a key date and b) because we have the stock!

    Read more of our thoughts here:

    http://www.chards.co.uk/news/2013-silver-britannia-coins-highest-price-lowest-quality/

  14. Susan Norris says

    Could someone please tell me how to tell the difference between the proof and the uncirculated Britannia? I have many and I wanted to put them in a display box but I feel so ignorant about not being able to tell the difference. Please write me an email

  15. Nick Barrett says

    (Apart from proofs) 1998-2012 Britannias in 958 silver are all “brilliant uncirculated” with shiny raised surfaces except for the 2010 coin which is matte.

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