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Bullion is a term that is often misunderstood or misinterpreted. It is a broad term used to describe precious metal bars and coins that have been mass-produced for investors.
A bullion coin is also a numismatic term that refers to production standards used to manufacture coins that were mass-produced after the 1930s.
These are quite different from coins with a ‘proof finish’ which means a lot of detail has been brought out due to the higher quality of finishing. Therefore, bullion coins are often the cheapest way of investing in the precious metals market. The value of the coins you buy will be more or less dependent on their silver or gold content. Bullion coins attractive lower premiums and does not have higher prices due to packaging, exclusivity or quality of finish.
The Royal Mint is one of the world’s oldest producer of coins. With a history spanning more than 1100 years, the Royal Mint was originally created to produce coins for the Kingdom of England, and in time minted coins for the entire British Empire. The original mint was housed in the Tower of London and was established in 886 A.D. Currently, the Royal Mint is a limited company and a part of her Majesty’s Treasury.
The Royal Mint bullion coins were first introduced in 1957. At the time, there was a rising demand for gold sovereign coins and the mint started production of these bullion coins to protect British coinage from counterfeiting. Since then, the Royal Mint bullion coins have continued to satisfy demand from numismatists and investors alike.
The sovereign is a flagship British coin with a gold content of 22 carats released by the Royal Mint since 1817. The Sovereign with a face value of 1 pound was a popular coin in circulation. It was later withdrawn from circulation and produced as a bullion coin for investors and collectors. It enjoys the reputation of being one of the most liquid coins on the planet. Since the coin has been around for more than 200 years, there is ample supply of this iconic British coin for investors to include within their portfolio.
The coin has witnessed the reigns of many British monarchs and the version released from 1817 onwards saw these coins in circulation until 1932. The Royal Mint bullion coins like the Sovereign are extremely attractive for investors, due to their low premiums, authenticity and gold content. Divisibility is an important consideration for many investors and the sovereign is available in different sizes and denominations.
The Britannia is yet another flagship British coin that enjoys great liquidity across the coin markets in the world. The original gold version was introduced as a bullion coin, in 1987. The Royal Mint subsequently issued a silver Britannia in 1997. The gold Britannia is an extremely collectable coin, and contains one Troy ounce of gold, while the coin denotes a face value of £100. The silver Britannia, on the other hand, contains one Troy ounce of silver but has a face value of 2 pounds. The purity of the silver Britannia has changed since 2013, and now has a purity of 999.9.
When the silver Britannia was released in 1997, it had an initial mintage limit on the 1-ounce proof orders up to 16,005. The limit for proof sets of the coin was also set at 11,832. However, by 1998, one year from the initial release, the Royal Mint increased the mintage limit to 88,909. This action was taken to meet the escalating demand for the silver bullion coin. Going forward, the mintage limits were adjusted according to demand and by 2004, this limit was brought up to 100,000 and by 2016, this figure was raised to 200,000. The Gold Britannia bullion coins do not have mintage limits, but the proof coin sets do. As of 2020, only 150 sets were issued.
Apart from the Britannia and the sovereign, the Royal Mint bullion coins also include others like the Queen’s Beast and the Lunar series. The Queen’s Beast series of coins was launched in 2016 and features statues of the Queen’s Beasts at the historic coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The coins were designed by Jody Clark and the series also includes a 2-ounce silver coin, which is a first for the Royal Mint. The series has 10 planned coins, each featuring a stylised image of a Queen’s Beast.
The Lunar series of gold coins is yet another edition of the Royal Mint bullion coins. Introduced in 2014, the series launches a new coin every year, featuring an animal from the Chinese Zodiac. These are animals that are used to denote and celebrate each lunar year.
There are 12 issues planned throughout the series and several have already been launched, including the dog, monkey, sheep, horse and the rooster. The lunar gold coins are highly collectable and enjoy popularity amongst people collecting the Royal Mint bullion coins.
Interestingly, these coins are also very popular with Chinese investors and enjoy healthy demand from Asia’s gold loving markets. There are still several issues of the lunar gold coins in the pipeline and most collectors wait eagerly for new editions to be launched so that they can complete the entire set.
If you are a numismatist or an investor who wants to include Royal Mint bullion coins as a part of your portfolio, call our coin experts on (020) 7060 9992. You can also reach us via our website and a member of the Physical Gold team will contact you to discuss your purchases and provide you with the right advice for investing in Royal Mint bullion coins. Our advisors can help you achieve your goals and ensure you buy the right coins at the right time and price.
Daniel Fisher formed physical Gold in 2008, after working in the financial industry for 20 years. He spent much of that time working within the new issue fixed income business at a top tier US bank. In this role, he traded a large book of fixed income securities, raised capital for some of the largest government, financial, and corporate institutions in the world and advised the leading global institutional investors. Daniel is CeFA registered and is a member of the Institute of Financial Planning.