The Silver Britannia has been issued by the Royal Mint since 1997. They are one troy ounce and have a face value of 2 British Pounds. They are also offered in ½, ¼, and 1/10 troy ounces and are valued at 1 British Pound 50 pennies and 20 pennies respectively. The pattern of the coin varies almost yearly. Below are images of the obverse and reverse sides of the coin:
Design and Appearance
The obverse side of the coin depicts Queen Elizabeth II. In 1997, and in all even-numbered years since, the reverse design shows a standing Britannia figure. Starting in 1999, and continuing through every odd-numbered year, a different non-repeating image of Britannia has been depicted. Of course some representation of Britannia is used on the reverse of every year the coin has been issued. The change in design and appearance is mainly to attract collectors and investors. The 2007 version of the Silver Britannia depicts a seated image of Britannia holding armor and the Union flag along with a lion seated at her feet.
Weight and Purity
The one ounce Silver Britannia weighs in at 31.10 grams with a diameter of 40mm. The half troy ounce coin has a weight of 15.5 grams and a diameter of 27mm. The quarter ounce coin has a weight of 7.7 grams and a diameter of 22mm. Finally, the tenth troy ounce coin has a weight of 3.1 grams and a diameter of 16.5mm. It, like most other coins, has reeded edges.
All Silver Britannias are composed of 95.8% silver, which is known worldwide as “Britannia Silver”. Britannia Silver is composed of the aforementioned silver as well as copper to fill the remaining 4.2%. The percentage is important to silver investors, as a 1-ounce coin which is 99.9% silver will be worth more than a 1-ounce coin that is only 95.8% silver (ignoring any outside factors like coin rarity or demand). The 95.8% ratio was set by the English Parliament in 1697, replacing the sterling silver standard of 92.5% silver of the past. The higher standard was instituted to help reduce the clipping and melting of sterling silver coinage, as it was thought by setting a higher standard there would be less motivation to melt coins down and refine them.
The Royal Mint also has produced gold Britannias each year since 1987, which are composed of 91.7% (22 carat) gold. The remaining 8.3% of the coin is composed of pure silver. Gold Britannias are produced in one ounce (100 British Pounds), 1/2 ounce (50 British Pounds), 1/4 ounce (25 British Pounds), and 1/10 ounce (10 British Pounds). The gold versions of the coins have the same dimensions as the silver versions, excluding the 1-ounce Gold Britannia which has a smaller diameter of 32.69 mm.
Manufacture and Distribution
All Silver Britannias are minted by the Royal Mint and sold directly to the public on www.royalmint.com. Each year the coins are produced in standard 1-ounce form, proof 1-ounce form, and in proof 4-coin sets which contain the 1-ounce, 1/2 ounce, 1/4 ounce, and 1/10 ounce Silver Britannias for the year. Since 2004, 100,000 standard 1-ounce Silver Britannias have been minted each year. Since 2006, 2,500 Proof 1-ounce Silver Britannias have been produced each year. Since 2008, 2,500 4 coin sets have been produced per year.
Buy Silver Britannias
Buying the Britannia is not something that only Britains can do. Buyers from around the world regularly add Britannias to their assortment of silver bullion, even if they are not usually focused on coins and nationally minted items. Britannias are a special collectible coin and a fantastic investment all wrapped into one. Purchase a few coins and ensure that you are even more diversified than you were before.
Silver Britannias usually sell for far more than the spot price of the silver contained in the coin. For example, the 2011 4-coin set, which contains 1.7223 ounces of silver, sells on the Royal Mint’s website for $308.25. The value of the silver contained within the four coins is roughly $57 (at the time of this writing). This steep markup is due to the coin’s value to collectors, its impressive presentation, and its high demand.
On the secondary market (at precious metal retail websites like Apmex.com), Silver Britannias still resell well above the spot price of silver, but the markup is much more reasonable. For example, standard 2004 1-ounce Britannias are currently selling for around $80, which is about $48 over the spot price of silver. This is still a steep markup, but it pales in comparison to the massive markup charged when you order new Britannias directly from the Royal Mint. Proof Silver Britannias always sell for far more than uncirculated Silver Britannias, simply because of their rarity due to less Proof coins being minted per year.