Blog 52: British Bullion Coins: A Journey Through the Rich History of British Precious Metal Currency


British bullion coins have a long and illustrious history, reflecting the United Kingdom's status as a global financial powerhouse and the former center of the world's largest empire. In this article, we will delve into the captivating history of British bullion coins, discussing their evolution, design, and significance in both domestic and international markets.

The Early Days: Hammered Gold Coins

  1. Gold Nobles: First introduced during the reign of King Edward III in 1344, gold nobles were the first significant gold coins in circulation in England. Minted from high-quality gold, these coins displayed the image of the king on a ship and became a symbol of British naval power.

  2. Sovereigns: The gold sovereign, featuring the image of King Henry VII, was first introduced in 1489. The coin weighed half a troy ounce and became a symbol of the English monarchy. Sovereigns continued to be minted under subsequent monarchs, with various designs and denominations.

The Modern Era: Milled Bullion Coins

  1. Gold Sovereigns: The modern gold sovereign was introduced in 1817 during the reign of King George III. With a weight of 7.98 grams and a gold content of 0.2354 troy ounces, gold sovereigns are still minted today and are a popular choice for investors and collectors.

  2. Britannia Coins: First introduced in 1987, the gold Britannia is a 1 troy ounce bullion coin with a face value of £100. The coin features the iconic image of Britannia, the female personification of Great Britain. Since 1997, Britannia coins have also been minted in silver, with a face value of £2.

  3. Queen's Beasts Series: Launched in 2016, the Queen's Beasts series is a collection of ten bullion coins featuring the heraldic beasts that represent the ancestry of Queen Elizabeth II. Each coin is available in gold and silver, with denominations ranging from 1/4 ounce to 1 kilogram.

  4. Lunar Series: The Royal Mint introduced the Lunar series in 2014, with each coin design representing one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. These coins are available in gold and silver and are popular among investors and collectors for their intricate designs and limited mintages.

  5. Platinum Bullion Coins: In 2018, the Royal Mint introduced its first-ever platinum bullion coin, the Platinum Britannia, featuring the same iconic Britannia design as the gold and silver versions. The Platinum Britannia has a face value of £100 and is available in 1 troy ounce.

International Recognition and Demand

  1. Legal Tender Status: British bullion coins are considered legal tender in the United Kingdom, which means they are exempt from capital gains tax for UK residents. This legal status has helped to bolster their popularity among investors in the UK and around the world.

  2. Purity and Quality: British bullion coins are known for their high purity and exceptional quality, making them an attractive option for investors seeking a secure and easily tradable store of value. The Royal Mint's strict quality control standards ensure that each coin meets the highest levels of craftsmanship.

  3. Global Appeal: British bullion coins are recognized and traded worldwide, making them a liquid and easily accessible investment option. Their rich history, iconic designs, and legal tender status have helped to solidify their reputation as a trusted and desirable form of precious metal currency.


The history of British bullion coins is a testament to the enduring importance of gold and silver as stores of value and as symbols of national pride and prestige. From gold nob

les and sovereigns to modern Britannia and Queen's Beasts coins, these precious metal currencies have played a crucial role in the United Kingdom's financial history and continue to be sought after by investors and collectors alike.

As we've seen, the Royal Mint has a long tradition of producing high-quality, beautifully designed coins that are recognized and traded worldwide. The combination of legal tender status, high purity, and global appeal makes British bullion coins an excellent choice for those looking to invest in precious metals or add a touch of history to their collection.

In an ever-changing world, the allure of British bullion coins endures, and their significance in both domestic and international markets remains strong. Whether you are a seasoned investor or a newcomer to the world of precious metals, British bullion coins offer a fascinating and rewarding way to explore the rich history of British currency and the lasting importance of gold and silver.

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.