Posted by Collin Jung on 28 Oct 2018

Exploring the Rich History of UK Britannia Silver Coins (2023 Update)


Silver coins have been a popular form of currency throughout history, and the United Kingdom has a rich heritage of producing some of the finest silver coins in the world. Among these coins are the UK Britannia silver coins, which have a long and fascinating history dating back to the 17th century. In this article, we will explore the story behind these iconic coins and their significance to collectors and investors alike, as well as the recent change in the design of the coin. 

What are UK Britannia Silver Coins?

The UK Britannia silver coin series, including the renowned 1 oz British Silver Britannia, is a collection of bullion coins minted by the prestigious Royal Mint of the United Kingdom. These coins hold a significant place in the hearts of coin enthusiasts and investors alike, embodying the spirit and strength of Britannia as well as Queen Elizabeth II, symbols deeply rooted in British history.

History of UK Britannia Silver Coins

The history of UK Britannia silver coins can be traced back to the 17th century when silver coins featuring Britannia on the reverse side were first minted. These coins were widely used as a form of currency in the United Kingdom and its colonies.

In the 20th century, the production of silver coins in the UK declined, and it was not until 1997, 10 years after the Britannia gold coin, that the Royal Mint introduced the first official Britannia, in which the silver coins struck on a new series of bullion coins. The original 1997 silver coin entailed Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse side and Britannia in a chariot wearing a Corinthian helmet and a trident in her hand. 

Since its introduction on the coins of Roman Emperor Hadrian, Britannia has maintained a consistent presence in British currency since 1672, when Charles II was reigning.

Initially minted in 95.8% purity, the coins transitioned to a purer 99.9% silver content in 2013, enhancing their desirability and investment potential.

The Royal Mint also made other significant changes to the Britannia program in 2013. The previously imposed mintage limit of 100,000 for silver bullion coins was removed. Additionally, the bullion versions will showcase the consistent design of Philip Nathan's "Standing Britannia," while the numismatic editions will present a fresh design for each year they are released. 

The Royal Mint also issued its first-ever £10 Silver Britannia, a huge 5-ounce coin where Britannia, wearing a Corinthian Helmet, sits on a chair with a trident in hand and holds an owl on her knee. A one-twentieth (1/20) oz silver Britannia coin was also released.

The five ounce and 1/20 ounce Britannia silver coins

Design of the Silver Britannia Coin

The captivating design of UK Britannia silver coins contributes to their allure and enduring appeal. The design of the British silver Britannia coins has remained largely consistent since their introduction in 1997.

The reverse side showcases the iconic British Britannia image, the female personification of Great Britain, gracefully standing wearing a Corinthian helmet, with her trident in one hand and a shield bearing the Union Jack in the other. Each year, the reverse design undergoes a transformation, making each edition unique and highly collectible. These coins are made of 99.9% pure silver and are available in various sizes and denominations.

The Royal Mint sought to celebrate the enduring image of Britannia, which has been associated with the nation since Roman times. Since then, the design has remained largely unchanged, with only minor variations to the design and size of the coins, until this year.

Between the years 1997-2023, the obverse side of the coin bore the elegant effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

However, the silver and gold Britannia coin of 2023 now incorporates King Charles III on the obverse side of the coin in place of Queen Elizabeth II, however the coin featuring the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II was also produced in 2023.

The coin's obverse also has the monarch's legend around the effigy. For example, the coins with Queen Elizabeth II's effigy show the legend: ELIZABETH ' II ' D ' G REG ' F ' D' 2 ' POUNDS '. It translates from Latin: Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, Queen, Defender of the Faith, followed by the value and denomination in English.

The monarch's legend around the effigy


Security Features on Britannia Silver Coins

Utilizing cutting-edge picosecond laser technology, The Royal Mint became an early adopter in the global minting industry. These advanced lasers, commonly employed in medicine and aerospace, allow The Royal Mint to intricately craft coin designs on a submicron scale, with indents that are 200 times narrower than the width of a human hair.

In 2021, the Royal Mint introduced four key security features into the silver and gold Britannia coins.

  • A latent image acts like a hologram and changes from a padlock to Britannia’s famous trident, depending on the viewer's perspective.

  • Surface animation, created using advanced picosecond lasers, brings the background of waves to life when the coin is rotated.

  • The micro-text ‘Decus et Tutamen’, which translates as ‘An ornament and a safeguard’, created using specialist lasers, borders the design and provides both decoration and protection.

  • Britannia's shield bears the Union flag, which is accented with tincture lines.


Investing in UK Britannia Silver Coins

Investing in UK Britannia silver coins, especially the 1 oz silver Britannia coin, presents enticing opportunities for both numismatic enthusiasts and astute investors. These coins possess intrinsic value due to their silver content and are recognized as legal tender in the United Kingdom. Their status as bullion coins ensures their appeal to those seeking to buy and sell, have high liquidity, and are an affordable way to invest in precious metals.

However, investing in the UK silver Britannia coin also comes with some risks, such as the possibility of fluctuations in the price of silver and the risk of counterfeits. Investors need to do their research and carefully consider the market conditions before investing in UK Britannia silver coins. Investors can buy UK Britannia silver coins from authorized bullion dealers, such as the Royal Mint, or reputable third-party dealers. They can also sell their coins back to these dealers or other investors in the secondary market.

Collecting UK Britannia Silver Coins

In addition to their investment potential, UK Britannia silver coins also have a strong appeal to collectors. These coins are highly valued for their intricate design, historical significance, and rarity. Some collectors focus on building a complete set of UK Britannia silver coins, while others may focus on specific designs or variations. For collectors interested in one-of-a-kind pieces, silver Britannia coins also have so-called proof coins, or the first print of coins (i.e. prototypes) to catch errors or misprints, which today are considered one of the highest quality coins due to their rarity. Today they are no longer used to catch errors, however, proof coins are sold in limited quantities and provide a limited edition to the Britannia Silver Coins.

Additionally, the limited mintage and changing reverse designs contribute to the collectibility of UK Britannia silver coins. Collectors eagerly await each year's release, driving demand and potentially increasing the value of these coins over time. Furthermore, the reputable Royal Mint and the enduring popularity of the Britannia series add to the appeal and reliability of these coins as investment assets.

Collectors can purchase UK Britannia silver coins from authorized dealers, as well as from online marketplaces and auction sites. They can also attend coin shows and exhibitions to browse and purchase coins from other collectors and dealers.


In conclusion, UK Britannia silver coins, particularly the 1 oz silver Britannia coin, embody the beauty, history, and investment potential that captivate both coin collectors and investors. With their unique design, rich history, and recognition as legal tender, these coins offer a tangible and captivating way to invest in the precious metals market. From their origins in the 17th century to their British coinage in 1997, to their modern-day production, the silver Britannia coin has captivated collectors and investors alike. Whether you are looking to add physical assets to your investment portfolio or start a new coin collection, UK Britannia silver coins are a valuable and worthwhile investment.


1. What is the value of a UK Britannia silver coin?

The value of a UK Britannia silver coin can vary based on several factors, such as its age, rarity, and condition. Investors and collectors can check current market prices to understand the coin's value.

2. Are UK Britannia silver coins rare?

Some UK Britannia silver coins can be considered rare, depending on the year of production and the number of coins minted. Collectors can check production numbers and rarity indexes to determine a coin's rarity.

3. How can I tell if my UK Britannia silver coin is authentic?

Authentic UK Britannia silver coins will have the weight, purity, and denomination stamped on the coin. Investors and collectors can also look for the Royal Mint's mark of authenticity, such as the mint mark or the micro-lettering.

4. Can UK Britannia silver coins be used as legal tender?

UK Britannia silver coins are legal tender in the United Kingdom, but their face value is much lower than their intrinsic value as bullion coins.

5. How often are new designs of UK Britannia silver coins released?

The Royal Mint releases new designs of UK Britannia silver coins annually, typically in September. These new designs may feature variations on the classic Britannia design or completely new designs altogether.

6. What weights are UK Britannia silver coins available in?

The Silver Britannia is currently offered annually in various sizes, including 1 oz, 1/2 oz, 1/4 oz, 1/10 oz, 1/20 oz, and 5 oz alternatives.


(This page is constantly updated with new information about the subject.)