The Enduring Icon of Britain

16 Apr 2010

Today, the Royal Mint launches its newly designed 2010 Britannia coin series, which depicts the famous icon of Britain and British coinage as an Amazonian-like warrior, with a protective and serene watch over modern Britain’s liberty and values. The new design has been launched to celebrate Britannia’s enduring presence as an important symbol of national identity in changing times.

Designer Suzie Zamit says: “Britannia is a really important British icon and I wanted to create a design that represents her as a symbol of British liberties and democracy. I felt it was important to portray Britannia as strong - almost Amazonian - and courageous, but not overly warlike, more peaceful and protective.”

The new 2010 Britannia coin series is launched in both gold and silver, available in an extended range of both individual coins and Proof sets. Suzie Zamit’s beautiful design is the first new Britannia design since 2008 and offers a fresh interpretation of the goddess, capturing the strong, courageous and watchful qualities of her spirit.

The new Britannia wears a Corinthian-style helmet, emphasising her warlike spirit and is accompanied by a lion to symbolise courage. However, Britannia’s serene gaze and the presence of an olive branch, also portrays the goddess as a protective defender of peace and modern British liberty and values. Her eastward looking gaze alludes to Britain’s role in the EU and its presence in Afghanistan.

Dave Knight, Director of Commemorative Coin at the Royal Mint, said: “Britannia is an enduring icon that has become an integral part of British coinage and heritage. She represents the strength of the British national identity and Suzie Zamit has captured this force in her new design. We are delighted to have created a coin that honours the history of British coins, whilst celebrating the future of modern Britain. Our 2010 Britannia Series is a great chance for us, along with the public, to celebrate this constant symbol of British success.”

- Ends -

Notes to Editors

Background to Britannia

  • The image of Britannia is closely associated with British coinage (and used on the reverse of the circulating 50p coin until 2008). The Britannia Silver Bullion Coin was introduced in 1997

  • Britannia is an ancient term for Great Britain, and also a symbol of the island. The name is Latin, and derives from the Greek form Prettanike or Brettaniai, which originally designated a collection of islands with individual names, including Albion or Great Britain. However, by the first century BC Britannia came to be used for Great Britain specifically

  • In the second century, Roman Britannia came to be portrayed as a goddess, armed with a spear and shield and wearing a centurion's helmet. A highly recognisable image that has survived until today

  • It was the Romans who, in recording their invasion and colonisation of Britain, first portrayed Britannia on their coins. Much later Britannia was to become a fitting symbol to grace the reverse of the copper coins of Charles II when her image symbolised her sovereignty of the seas

  • Universally recognised as a British icon, she has graced the coins of every British monarch since then. On the coinage of the present Queen, she featured on every pre-decimal penny and following decimalisation, was chosen to appear on the 50p coin until 2008

  • She was chosen to grace the new gold Britannia coinage introduced in 1987, and on the silver bullion coins introduced from 1997

  • An interview with Suzie Zamit is available on the Royal Mint’s website and includes further details of her design process and final portrait design for the 2010 Series: http://www.royalmint.com/BRITANNIA

Note subtitle

2010 Britannia Gold Proof Coin

Specifications

Denomination

£100

Alloy

0.9167 Au

Weight

34.05g

Diameter

32.69mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Gold Content

1 oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

1,250

2010 Britannia Gold Half Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

£50

Alloy

0.9167 Au

Weight

17.02g

Diameter

27.00mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Gold Content

½ oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

1,750

2010 Britannia Gold Quarter Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

£25

Alloy

0.9167 Au

Weight

8.51g

Diameter

22.00mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Gold Content

¼ oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

3,000

2010 Britannia Gold Tenth Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

£10

Alloy

0.9167 Au

Weight

3.41g

Diameter

16.50mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Gold Content

1/10 oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

3,000

2010 Britannia Silver Proof Coin

Specifications

Denomination

£2

Alloy

0.958 silver

Weight

32.45g

Diameter

40.00mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Silver Content

1 oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

8,000

2010 Britannia Silver Half Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

£1

Alloy

0.958 silver

Weight

16.22g

Diameter

27.00mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Silver Content

½ oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

3,500

2010 Britannia Silver Quarter Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

50p

Alloy

0.958 silver

Weight

8.11g

Diameter

22.00mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Silver Content

¼ oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

4,500

2010 Britannia Silver Tenth Ounce

Specifications

Denomination

20p

Alloy

0.958 silver

Weight

3.24g

Diameter

16.50mm

Designer (Reverse)

Suzie Zamit

Designer (Obverse)

Ian Rank-Broadley, FRBS

Silver Content

1/10 oz

Production Standard

Proof

Maximum Coin Mintage

8,000

Royal Mint facts

  • The Royal Mint has a history dating back over 1,000 years. By the late thirteenth century the organisation was based in the Tower of London, and remained there for over 500 years. By 1812, the Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in Llantrisant, South Wales

  • There were estimated to be 28.2 billion UK coins in circulation at 31 March 2009, with a total face value of £3.6 billion – all manufactured by the Royal Mint

  • 1.3 billion UK coins were issued during 2008-09

  • Of the higher denomination coins, it is the 20p piece that is most in demand – with more than 2.4 billion now in circulation. Royal Mint contact details

  • For media enquiries, please contact the Royal Mint Press Office on 020 853 2390.