Silver can bring out the best in nearly every design. Another silver coin worth collecting is the Britannia. After joining the United States and other countries to offer gold bullion coins in 1987, the Royal Mint celebrated the tenth anniversary of their program by introducing a £2 silver coin. Silver Britannias are struck in what is called Britannia silver, an alloy consisting of 958 parts per thousand silver. As a comparison, sterling silver consists of 925 parts per thousand silver. Comparatively, the American Silver Eagle contains 999 parts per thousand silver and the Canadian Maple Leaf consists of 999.9 parts per thousand silver. The balance of the alloy is usually copper.
Britannia was originally the Latin name that the Roman Empire gave to the island of Great Britain and its possessions. After the fall of the Roman Empire it had lost most symbolic meaning until the rise of British influence and being renewed during the time of Queen Victoria. Still depicted as a young woman with brown or golden hair, she kept her Corinthian helmet and her white robes, but now she held Poseidon’s three-pronged trident and often stood in the ocean, representing British naval power. She also usually held or stood beside a Greek hoplon shield which sports the British Union Jack. At her feet was often the British Lion, the national animal of England. Britannia first appeared on the farthing in 1672, followed by the halfpenny later the same year under Charles II.
When introduced in 1997, the Silver Britannia was minted with the official “hid Portrait” of HM Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. This portrait was designed by Raphael Maklouf FRSA and shows the Queen with the Royal Diadem which she wears on her way to and from the State Opening of Parliament. The fourth official portrait of Her Majesty the Queen was introduced for all Commonwealth coinage in 1998. It is the work of sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, FSNAD. Her Majesty is wearing the tiara which was used in an earlier coinage portrait by Arnold Machin. The Queen is shown facing right, in accordance with a tradition dating back to the seventeenth century, where successive monarchs face in alternative directions on the coinage.
From their introduction in 1987, the gold Britannia coins used the standing Britannia design on the reverse. On the tenth anniversary of the program and the introduction of the silver Britannia, a new deisign was created. The design was a figure of Britannia driving a chariot in the manner of Boudica was designed by Philip Nathan. Boudica, also know as Boadicea, was ruler of the Iceni tribe in eastern England and Queen of the Britons. She led her forces in revolt against the Romans and sacked Colchester, St. Albans, and London before being defeated by the Roman governor, Suetonius Paulinus. She died in the year 62 CE. This design was used in 1997, 1999, and 2006.
Following the successful launch of the silver Britannia coins, the Royal Mint returned to the standing Britannia design. Created by Philip Nathan, Britannia is depicted adorned in flowing robes standing proud in defense of Britain’s shores. The design recalls the design used on florins of Edward VII. this design also appeared in 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006.
With a few other designs mixed in, the 2010 is also a single year design designed by Suzie Amit who said that she wanted to portray Britannia as a strong and courageous looking but not overly warlike woman—more peaceful and protective. The coin is struck with shiny surfaces without contrast from frosted designs. Unfortunately, it made it difficult to image. Although this image does not capture its beauty, it is a very nice design and worthy of completing my one ounce Silver Britannia collection.
American Silver Eagles, Chinese Pandas, and Great Britain Britannias are not only beautiful silver coins, but make a nice set to collect. Even with silver prices on the rise, they do make nice sets.