First King Charles III coins pass the Trial of the Pyx
- The first official UK coins bearing His Majesty King Charles III’s official effigy produced by The Royal Mint have passed the Trial of the Pyx.
- Nearly 10,000 coins were submitted for testing, including with the 15kg gold coin produced to celebrate Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee – the largest coin to have ever been submitted to the Trial.
- This is the first time that coins bearing the effigies of two monarchs have been submitted to the Trial for several decades.
- Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who as Master of the Mint, is held responsible for the result has received a positive verdict on this year’s Trial of the Pyx - one of the UK’s oldest judicial processes that protects consumers and ensures the quality of the nation’s coinage is upheld.
- The Trial of the Pyx is the oldest form of independent quality control still in use today, first recorded in 1248, to ensure the quality and accuracy of the nation’s coinage.
- A Jury made up of members of the Goldsmiths’ Company, confirmed that coins produced by The Royal Mint had once again met regulatory standards.
- The Verdict is the last stage of the annual Trial, which started in February and is presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, an ancient judicial post.
- The Trial has been held at Goldsmiths’ Hall continuously since 1871.
May 11: Today at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London, the Queen’s Remembrancer, Senior Master Barbara Fontaine, pronounced a positive verdict on the nearly 10,000 coins submitted by The Royal Mint at the Trial of the Pyx in February, which included the first official UK coins bearing His Majesty King Charles III’s official effigy.
This year’s Trial of the Pyx has marked a significant moment in history, with The Royal Mint submitting the first official UK coins bearing His Majesty King Charles III’s official portrait and the largest coin they have created to date - a 15kg masterpiece created in celebration of Her Late Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It is the first time that coins bearing the effigies of two monarchs have tried at the same time for several decades.
While the primary responsibility of The Royal Mint is to strike the United Kingdom’s coins, the 1,100-year-old organisation also draws on its unrivalled knowledge of precious metals and spectacular pool of British craftsmanship to create bespoke masterpieces, like the 15-kilo gold coin. A sample of all new coins struck by The Royal Mint are submitted to the Trial of the Pyx - one of the nation’s longest-established judicial ceremonies, dating back to the 12th Century - each year, where they are rigorously checked for fineness, quality and accuracy.
Today’s verdict marks the end of a three-stage process, which started in February, when a jury of goldsmiths carefully counted and weighed a selection of new coins (legal tender and commemorative coins) taken at random from the Royal Mint’s 2023 production line. After adjourning for three months to allow the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office time to thoroughly test the coins, the Queen’s Remembrancer then delivers the verdict at Goldsmiths’ Hall, where both the Trial and the Verdict have taken place annually since 1871.
The Trial fulfils a legal requirement imposed by an Act of Parliament (Coinage Act 1971) to conduct an examination by jury to ascertain that the coins of the realm, produced by the Royal Mint, are of the correct weight, size, and composition. As Master of the Royal Mint, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is held responsible for the outcome.
Anne Jessopp, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint said, “Precious metals and craftsmanship are at the heart of everything we do at The Royal Mint. With a history of minting the nations coinage for 1,100 years, we pride ourselves on producing coinage of the highest possible standards, which includes the circulating coins found in our pockets through to large masterwork coins, made from precious metals and requiring exceptional skill and craftsmanship to produce. As the CEO, I am incredibly proud that this year’s trial marks a new chapter in our history of minting British coins as we transition to see His Majesty King Charles III’s portrait appear on all coinage and following today’s verdict, we are proud to continue our long history of producing only the highest quality coinage and showcasing our spectacular minting expertise.”
Paul Morgan, His Majesty The King’s Assay Master at The Royal Mint said, “As The Royal Mint, quality, accuracy and precision of our coinage is of highest importance. No other Mint across the world puts its coinage through such rigorous testing, and this year’s Trial of the Pyx marks a new chapter in history as His Majesty King Charles III’s official UK coinage passes trial for the first time. It is also my first year in the role as The King’s Assay Master so I am delighted with the verdict and we are honoured to be a part of the UK’s oldest judicial ceremony.”
Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, Lord Bridges, commenting on the verdict today said:
“Today’s verdict highlights the importance of coins in the modern world: both as currency found in piggybanks, pockets and purses, and as beautiful commemorative mementos that celebrate significant people, occasions and events.
It highlights the Royal Mint’s ongoing commitment to quality, accuracy and craftsmanship, and an assurance that the Goldsmiths’ Company continues to protect consumers by ensuring the integrity of their coinage – a responsibility that we have proudly held for more than 700 years.”
The Trial of the Pyx today
- The purpose of the annual Trial is to check that UK coins produced at The Royal Mint are within the statutory limits for metallic composition, weight, and size.
- Officials from The Royal Mint bring chests (Pyx) to Goldsmiths' Hall, hence the name ‘Trial of the Pyx’
- These coins represent one coin from every batch of each denomination minted.
- During the opening proceedings, the coins are counted and weighed, and a selection are put aside for testing by the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office.
- The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office has three months to test the coins.
- The benchmark against which the coins are tested is called a Trial Plate.
- The trial jury, which must consist of at least six members of the Goldsmiths’ Company, is a formal court of law, summoned to Goldsmiths’ Hall by the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial post in England and Wales.
History of the Trial of the Pyx
- Origins of the Trial of the Pyx go back as far as circa 1180, when some form of trial may have been ordered by Henry II who instigated various control initiatives.
- The first record of a public trial dates from 1248. Twelve citizens of London and twelve goldsmiths of the City were selected to examine the money.
- In 1279, Edward I published an ordinance called ‘The Form of the New Money’ which described how a sample of the work produced each day at the mint in the Tower of London should be placed in a box, or ‘Pyx’.
- Up until the reign of Elizabeth I the juries of the Trial of the Pyx were composed of a mixture of goldsmiths and other citizens of the City of London. Elizabeth I gave the Goldsmiths’ Company full responsibility for the Trial in 1580, and all jurors were nominated from its members from then on.
- 1707 also saw the production of new trial plates following the Act of Union between England and Scotland, to bring the Edinburgh Mint into line with the Tower of London
- Although previous Trials had occasionally been held at Goldsmiths’ Hall, it became the permanent venue by law after the Coinage Act of 1870.
- The first Trial in Goldsmiths’ Hall, as the permanent venue, was held in 1871 and it has been held there every year since.
- The Master of the Mint – a role held by the Chancellor today – went to prison for six weeks in 1318 after poor tests.
More information on the Trial can be found here
For more information contact:
- Chris Mann, Communications Manager, the Goldsmiths’ Company
Notes to Editors
About the Goldsmiths’ Company
The Goldsmiths’ Company is a membership organisation that has contributed to national life for 700 years. We train and support jewellers and silversmiths, protect consumers by testing and hallmarking precious metals and work with charitable, educational, and cultural partners to help people in need.
In a pre-welfare state society, trade guilds like the Goldsmiths’ Company provided a safety net protecting craftspeople, their communities and people who had fallen through the cracks in society. The giving of alms, or financial relief, is mentioned in the first pages of the Company’s earliest minute book in 1334.
- The Goldsmiths’ Centre: Trains and supports jewellers and silversmiths and those in the allied trades.
- The Assay Office: Protects consumers and the trade by hallmarking precious metals.
- The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity: Works with charities to help improve people’s lives.
Website: thegoldsmiths.co.uk IG: @TheGoldsmithsCompany
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The Royal Mint has an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1,100 years. Based in the Tower of London 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 South Wales, UK, to accommodate the minting of UK decimal coinage. Today, The Royal Mint is the world’s largest export mint, supplying coins to the UK and overseas countries. The Royal Mint has also diversified into several other complementary businesses, building on the values that have been at the heart of the organisation throughout its history - authenticity, security, precious metals, craftsmanship and design:
Precious Metals: Throughout history The Royal Mint’s name has been synonymous with precious metals and bullion. The organisation trades physical and digital precious metal worldwide and has a global network of distributor partners.
Consumer coin division: The organisation runs a thriving commemorative coin business, gifting, and a collector services division retailing historic coins, an authentication and valuation service and secure storage.
The Royal Mint Experience: The Royal Mint entered the tourism business in 2016 when it opened its popular visitor centre, The Royal Mint Experience, at its home in Llantrisant, South Wales. The attraction welcomes around 100,000 visitors a year.