Standing strong for over 1,100 years throughout Britain’s wars, political upheavals, social and economic progress and technological and scientific advances, The Royal Mint’s history can be traced back through our country’s coinage.
But it was on the 17th of December 50 years ago that The Queen herself opened the new site for The Royal Mint, which was moved to a purpose-built site in Llantrisant following 157 years at Tower Hill, London.
This was the first time since its inception that The Royal Mint had been based outside of London, and marked an incredibly important moment in the history of our coins.
The move to Llantrisant
In 1966 it was announced that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency. This meant that hundreds of millions of new coins would need striking and Tower Hill simply didn’t have enough space to cope with this demand and so the decision was made to find a new location for The Royal Mint.
Llantrisant made it onto the shortlist of the top 7 locations, and as James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint and an MP for Cardiff) supported a move to Wales, Llantrisant was chosen for the big move.
Britain’s new Mint
The announcement was made in 1967 and construction soon began on the new site. For the Llantrisant area, the move meant more work and a regeneration of the town, as well as adding to the sense of history and tradition. It was estimated that the move would provide 10,000 jobs to South Wales.
It was in 1968 that the site was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen when she switched on the coining presses to begin production of decimal bronze coins.
Llantrisant was built to house the most advanced coining machinery in the world and have a larger capacity than any other mint in Europe, necessary to cope with the amount of new coinage needed.
When the site opened, the circulating coin presses could strike up to 200 coins per minute, however the latest generation of presses today strike around 750 coins per minute!
Decimalisation of Britain’s coins
The 15th of February 1971 is known as the day that Britain “went decimal”.
Whilst this was the official ‘Decimal Day’, three years before this, the new 5p and 10p coins were actually introduced. These coins were the same size and value as the existing one and two shilling coins to make the transition easier for the British public.
It was in 1969 that the first seven sided coin – the 50p – was introduced to replace the 10-shilling note as a more economical alternative and then finally, on Monday 15 February 1971, the transition was complete when the half penny, 1p and 2p coins were also introduced.
The new Mint at Llantrisant successfully transformed hundreds of years of everyday currency from 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound, to the new pound made from 100 new pence.
Today the Royal Mint is the market leader and the largest single supplier of plated coins and blanks in Europe. They can produce 90 million coins and blanks a week – that’s almost 5 billion coins a year!
And all this has been made possible thanks to the advanced facilities at Llantrisant, as pictured above, without which the move to decimal coinage simply wouldn’t have been possible.
Own this Historic Royal Mint anniversary DateStamp™
To mark the move of The Royal Mint to Llandistrant, you have the opportunity to own the Royal Mint in Wales 50th Anniversary DateStampTM.
Featuring the 2016 Wales £20 coin with the iconic Welsh dragon design, and postmarked 17th December 2018, exactly 50 years since The Royal Mint moved to Wales.
In 2016, we took a look at the mintage figures of all 50p, £1 and £2 coins that have been released. As always, ‘The Change Checker guide to UK coin mintages’ is THE place to check how rare your coins are! Here are the charts listing each coin in order of its rarity.
The Kew Gardens 50p coin remains top of the chart and doesn’t look as though it’ll be shifted any time soon!
Due to the high number of commemorative designs, no definitive design 50p coins were struck for circulation in 2016. Of those commemorative designs, the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit 50p has the highest mintage with 9.6 million pieces. However, some collectors may struggle to complete their Beatrix Potter set as it’s been revealed that only 2.1 million Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p coins were struck, making it the second most scarce commemorative 50p design (excluding the Olympic 50p series)! Squirrel Nutkin has also made it into the top 10 rare 50ps with a mintage of 5 million.
2016 was the first year since 1983 that no round £1 coins were struck for circulation due to the release of the new 12-sided £1 coin, as a result, this chart is now set in stone and the 2011 Edinburgh coin will remain the target for all round £1 coin collectors. But they’ll have to act quickly – along with the other round £1 coins it will disappear from circulation forever on 15th October.
The 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 still remains the only £2 coin to have a mintage of less that 500,000, placing it firmly at the top of the chart.
From the 2016 designs, the First World War Army £2 coin has a very high mintage figure with over 9.5million pieces being struck, making it the second most common commemorative £2 coin ever.
Interestingly, the three Shakespeare £2 coins, ‘Comedies‘, ‘Histories‘ and ‘Tragedies‘ each have a different mintage figure. Over 1.3 million fewer ‘Comedies’ coins were struck than ‘tragedies’, likely having an impact on collectability in the future.
You’ll notice that the Britannia £2 coin isn’t listed, this is because it is a definitive design, however the mintage increased to just over 3.5 million.
It will be very interesting to see how these coins fare in our updated Scarcity Indexes which will be released in July, so keep your eyes peeled for any changes.
And keep hold of your coins – you never know what they might be worth in the future! Remember you can Find, Collect and Swap all your coins for FREE with the Change Checker App: http://www.changechecker.org