03 Jul 2014

The Changing Face of Britain: The Royal Mint introduces The 2014 Britannia Proof Range…and the United Kingdom’s smallest coin

The changing face of Britain as personified by the figure of Britannia is captured once again on The Royal Mint’s Britannia Gold and Silver Proof Collection, which for 2014 includes the smallest coin minted in this country since the Norman Conquests. Following on from Robert Hunt’s 2013 Grecian Britannia, this year’s elegant yet powerful interpretation by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark features an art deco Britannia, standing proudly in front of a three-dimensional globe, accompanied by a lion, its tail draped protectively around her feet.

Britannia first appeared on Roman coins about 2,000 years ago, and since then has evolved to represent the strengths and challenges of Britain, from queen of the seas on the copper coins of George III to the warrior seen on the pennies of George IV and through the change brought about by decimalisation when she graced Christopher Ironside’s famous 50p. Britannia returns in 2014 re-imagined in a stunning contemporary reverse design.

For centuries, artists have used symbols to convey Britannia’s virtues – the trident and spear for might, balanced by her delicately draped robes, or an olive branch for peace. The design for 2014 by Jody Clark revisits this tradition.

Jody explains: “In approaching my design I started by researching what had gone before. Britannia has appeared in so many different compositions and with such a variety of symbols, I wanted my design to recall her history and tradition but with the elements surrounding Britannia, rather than weighing her down.

“Although some of the elements are motionless - the globe as a backdrop, the shield and trident placed at her side – I feel there is a dynamism to the design. There is a sense of movement as Britannia’s hair and robes flow, as does the mane of the lion, an iconic symbol of strength and pride that I was keen to include, and I hope that the two appear united as I intended them. Although the lion is at Britannia’s feet, its tail is curled around her, protective and tamed.”

The Britannia collection for 2014 is being launched in July with a choice of individual coins and sets, struck in 999 fine silver or 999.9 fine gold. This will be followed by the release on an individual basis of the Fortieth-Ounce coin in September. Each coin is housed in a distinguished Royal Mint case, tailored to each coin or set, complemented by a booklet that reveals Britannia’s story and the inspiration behind the design. A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany the chosen item, confirming that it is part of a limited presentation.

Who most represents the changing face of Britain for you? If you have any thoughts, please share them with us at www.facebook.com/theroyalmint or at Twitter.com/royalmintuk  using #MyBritannia.


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