2017 represents a dual anniversary for Great Britain's iconic Britannia coins, with the gold coin celebrating 30 years and the silver version marking it's 20th anniversary.
Since it's original debut in 1987, the Britannia has seen a total of fourteen different designs, and it has today become a tradition to feature a new interpretation of Britannia every year. The 2017 design was created by fine art student Louis Tamlyn. It is by far the most contemporary design effort to feature on the Britannia coin in it's three decade long history.
Wether or not this is a good thing, only time will tell. One thing is undeniable though, this is a drastic departure from the design aesthetic that has characterised the coin ever since Phillip Nathan's original, and now iconic, 1987 coin.
In Phillip Nathan's design we saw a more realistic, relatable portrayal of this allegorical embodiment of Britain. Her feet rooted firmly on bedrock, while her hair and gown were windswept while holding a trident, shield and olive branch. Less idealised and more visceral, drawing inspiration from the legends of Boadicea. A strong character who was not immune to her surroundings. Standing simultaneously as a defender and unassuming welcoming figure.
While the designs have changed over the years, those principles have always remained at the core of every new Britannia design. Until now. The 2017 design is far more abstract than any that came before. Now while breaking with tradition is fine and well, doing so seemingly just for the sake of novelty simply doesn't add any value.
Britannia is seen on the reverse of the coins from the back while cradling her trident on one arm and holding a shield in the other hand. She is wearing the familiar plumed Corinthian helmet, and the right hand side of the design displays the characteristic lines of the Union Jack. That is about where the similarities with any previous coin ends. Her lower torso and legs are transformed into a map of Great Britain, with lines radiating outward from the centre of the coin.
An interesting addition this year is the use of a special trident mint mark, with the numbers “20” added for the silver coins and “30” for the gold coins to denote the coins as special anniversary releases.
The obverse features the standard Royal Mint effigy of HM Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark.
There are quite a few versions of this special proof coin available, but the most popular one is sure to be the 1oz silver proof Britannia. Struck from 1oz of pure .999 Fineness silver the coin measures 38.61mm(1.52 inch) in diameter. While the 2017 Britannia has an authorised maximum mintage of 10 800 coins, only 7500 will be available to order on their own like this in a Royal Mint black clamshell presentation box, at a price of £85.00(US$112.50) each.
Following the 1oz silver coin is the special Britannia 2017 six coin silver proof set which contains a 1oz, ½oz, ¼oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20oz and 1/40oz silver coins. All six coins bear the same design as the 1oz flagship coin, and as likewise struck from .999 Fineness silver. Presented in a black Royal Mint presentation box, the set has a limited availability of only 2500 and is listed by the Mint at a price of £215.00(US$284.64) per set.
The next coin that I feel warrants mention is a special brilliant uncirculated strike of the regular bullion Britannia coin. At a limited mintage of 10 000 coins the Royal Mint is asking £52.50(US$69.50) for these coins in a dated display box with a numbered certificate of authenticity.
Also available will be a proof 5oz version of the silver Britannia. The royal mint will be releasing 1500 of these 65mm(2.559 inch) pure silver proof coins. Housed in a slightly more premium version of the black Royal Mint presentation box, the 5oz coin is not exactly cheap though at a cost of £415(US$550) each.
Moving on from the silver coins for the moment we are greeted by the ¼ oz gold proof Britannia coin. The coin, like all gold Britannias is struck from .9999 Fineness gold and measures diameter(0.866 inch) in diameter. The coin is available in the Royal Mint's now trademark premium wooden display box. 2500 of the quarter ounce gold coins are available to order in this presentation at a cost of £445.00(US$588) each.
Similar to the silver coins in this series, the gold pieces are also available in exclusive proof sets. But unlike the silver coins, the gold coins are available in two sets. The first is a six coin set that contains the 2017 gold Britannia One Ounce, Half-Ounce, Quarter-Ounce, Tenth-Ounce, Twentieth-Ounce and Fortieth-Ounce gold proof coins. This set has a limited availability of 250 sets at the price of £3295.00(US$4358) each.
Then, unlike the silver coins, the gold coins is also obtainable in a premium three coin set that only holds the Half-Ounce, Quarter-Ounce and Tenth-Ounce proof gold coins. The Royal Mint is only releasing 200 of these premium three coin sets for an asking price of £1425.00(US$1884) per set.
A coin that will not be available in the premium gold coin sets is the 2017 Britannia five ounce gold coin. Struck from 5oz(156.295 gram) of pure .9999 Fineness gold, this coin measures 50mm( inch) in diameter. Only 125 are being minted and the Mint is setting the price for this coin at £8250.00(US$10 912) each.
Other than the quarter ounce gold proof coin, the only other coin from the premium sets available to purchase directly from the mint on it's own is the fortieth-ounce coin. The mint has again decided to release the smallest gold coin in the series on it's own this year. Housed in a printed blister pack and limited to 1500 coins in this presentation, this miniature coin measures only 8mm(0.315 inch) in diameter. This coin is selling on it's own for a price of £70(US$93) each.
Then we move from one extreme to another. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the gold Britannia coins the Royal Mint is opting to produce a very limited edition thirty ounce gold proof coin. Struck from thirty ounces or 937.71 gram of pure .9999 Fineness gold. The coin measures 100mm(3.937 inch) in diameter and has a mintage of only 20 pieces. If you are in the mood for something as extravagant as this then be prepared to pay over no less than £46 995.00(US$62150) to obtain one.
Not quite as outlandish as a thirty ounce gold coin, but notable none the less, the Royal Mint is also minting a twenty ounce silver proof Britannia to commemorate the silver coin's 20th anniversary in 2017. This time struck from 625.2 gram(or 20 oz) of pure .999 Fineness silver and again measuring 100 mm, the silver coin has a mintage of 250 available. Compared to the gold piece, the silver coin has a very modest price at £1650.00(US$2182) each.
The final coin in the 2017 proof Britannia lineup is by no means the least as it stands as the only platinum coin in the series. The 2017 quarter ounce platinum proof Britannia coin is minted from .9995 Fineness platinum with a limited availability of 750 coins. The coin measures 20mm(0.787 inch) and is listed for £495.00(US$654) each on the Royal Mint's website.