Like many collectors, we were disappointed a few years ago when the Royal Mint decided to move away from it’s programme of irregular changing designs for its Britannia bullion coin. They moved the focus on to their premium proof range of Britannia coins, launching such wonderful designs as the 2014 entrant. The bullion coin settled on Philip Nathan’s iconic depiction of Britannia, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some tweaks in the ensuing time period.
We’ve had various guilloche and geometric background field patterns, tweaks to the placement of inscriptions and the obvious change in obverse effigy from Ian Rank Broadley to Jody Clark, but the alterations to the 2021 coin, while still keeping Nathan’s Britannia, are quite a bit more extensive – focusing on the scourge of counterfeit coins. Security is the new buzzword in bullion, and the Royal Mint has decided to go high-tech.
A picosecond laser emits optical pulses of extremely short duration, and are used for many things from tattoo removal to laser etching. The Royal Mint has used them to enhance an intricate wave-pattern background that appears to move when the coin is rotated in hand. There’s a laser-etched microtext inscription repeated in a band running inside the main border to further complicate the forgers job. In addition to that, a latent, lenticular-style privy area (similar to that used on KOMSCO bullion issues) also changes image on coin rotation, this time from a padlock to a trident head. There are also numerous enhancements to fine detail as well, such as the shield decoration.
The end result is an enhanced classic that can be authenticated just by rotating the coin in your hand with natural light. It’s an inspired and practical solution and we can see a counterfeit one of these being instantly noticeable. Due to go on sale from 19 October, the usual range of gold (1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/10 oz) and silver (1oz) will be on offer.
The press release states that the silver is of 0.9999 fineness, but the only official image we received (below) appears to indicate it’s 0.999, so we’ll have to confirm what is correct. Our instinct says the latter. Confirmed at 0.999. Whatever the case, these will fly out. Gold Britannia’s sold 236% more coins from Apri-Sept 2020 than they did in the same period in 2019. Busy times indeed.
UPDATED: New image of the silver coin reverse face, thanks to the Royal Mint.