The Royal Academy of Arts is celebrated 250 years after its founding by the Royal Mint

One of the oldest and most respected art institutions in the United Kingdom, the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) is tasked with promoting the appreciation of the visual arts through constant programmes of exhibitions, education and intellectual debate. An independently funded organisation, it was founded through a personal act of King George III on 10 December 1768. It was to provide a framework for the ‘professionalisation’ of the art world – giving it a solid system of training and critical judgement.

It’s currently based in Burlington House on Piccadilly in London, a Palladian mansion bought from the Earl of Burlington by the British government and subsequently expanded. Several other intellectual bodies are based there, including the Geological Society of London and the Royal Astronomical Society. This Grade-II listed building (since February 1970) is home to sculptures and a courtyard that is often open to the public. An early view of the facade engraved in the 19th century by Sir David Chipperfield has been used as a basis for the coin.

Just a solitary coin for the occasion this time. A standard ounce of sterling silver makes up the proof finish offering and it’s devoid of enhancement like colour or gilding. A simple view of the facade as it was two centuries ago dominates the reverse face, surrounded by a border carrying the inscription ‘ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS . 1768-2018 . A PLACE TO MAKE, EXHIBIT AND DEBATE ART’.

The obverse is the standard Royal Mint effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark, surrounded by the usual inscriptions denoting issuer and denomination. It will come presented in one of the black boxes the mint uses regularly, and a certificate of authenticity is enclosed. The mintage is capped at 2,750 pieces and the price is £82.50 including tax. Available to order now.


The Royal Mint is to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Academy of Arts with the launch of a limited mintage commemorative £5 silver proof coin featuring an architectural detail of Burlington House. The coin design, which depicts an historical view of the building, has been created from an original engraving by Sir David Chipperfield RA, the architect who is transforming the RA by linking Burlington House and Burlington Gardens which will open in May this year.

In describing his anniversary coin design, developed with graphic designer John Morgan, Sir David Chipperfield said that it was based on “… an architectural detail of the main facade of Burlington House taken from an engraving in the third volume of Vitruvius Britannicus, the influential architectural treatise by Colen Campbell

“The four categories of the RA are directly captured or referenced: architects, sculptors, painters and engravers, printmakers and draughtsmen. The text encircles and frames the scene.”

Dr Kevin Clancy, Director of the Royal Mint Museum said: “The striking of the Royal Academy 250th Anniversary coin will highlight more than the RA250 celebrations – it will also shine a light on a number of important historical, cultural and symbolic links that have been maintained between The Royal Mint and the Royal Academy of Arts since it first opened in 1768.”

Royal Academicians who have links to The Royal Mint include two Royal Mint Chief Engravers: Richard Yeo, a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts who produced designs for the coinage of George III, became Chief Engraver of The Royal Mint in 1775, whilst William Wyon RA, who produced portraits of George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria became Chief Engraver in 1828.

Other Academicians who have worked with the Royal Mint include Arnold Machin who produced a portrait of The Queen, the first to appear on decimal coins, the 1972 Silver Wedding Anniversary Crown and the 1977 Silver Jubilee Crown, and later, David Mach and Christopher Le Brun, current President of the RA, produced designs for twenty-first century Britannia coins and the ever popular Kew Gardens 50p.

Tom Phillips, James Butler and Sir Anthony Caro are other significant Royal Academicians who have designed coins and medals for The Royal Mint.

COMPOSITION 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 28.28 grams
DIAMETER 38.61 mm
BOX / COA Yes / Yes