Plenty of us probably take money for granted – in fact, do you even know how coins are made? Even the smallest of pennies go through a painstaking process, and it’s thanks to the Royal Mint that we have coins at all to pay with. But what else is the Royal Mint responsible for? What goes into the making of money – literally?
The Royal Mint is a fascinating body who has been processing coins and currency for the British to trade with for centuries. If you’d like to know more, here are 15 interesting facts about the Royal Mint to clue you up.
In the modern age, the Royal Mint makes coins for more than just British nationals. In fact, over 60 different countries rely on the service for currency.
Believe it or not, there are some countries who get their coins imported from the Mint – and who wish to keep such imports a secret. We won’t spill the beans!
In fact, the number of coins made and pressed by the Mint each year is truly staggering. Despite the sheer number of coins already in circulation, it’s thought that the Mint generates five billion more every 12 months!
Sir Isaac Newton was perhaps the most famous Master of the Mint, having served for an impressive 58 years. Newton, of course, is most famous for having discovered the concept of gravity.
You can take a full tour of the Royal Mint, where you’ll be able to spy gold bars, and to take a look at some of the rarest and most valuable coins in the UK.
There is a stringent quality procedure in place at the Royal Mint which, as you’d expect, is very efficient. Coins have been verified for worth at the Mint through the process called the Trial of the Pyx since the late 13th Century.
Noticed something interesting about the faces of kings and queens on British money? Coins produced since the reign of King Charles II in the 1600s have ensured that heads on coins face in the opposite direction to that of their predecessors.
While the Mint continues to produce and verify coins on a fairly autonomous basis, it is ultimately the job of the reigning monarch to verify and allow any new lines and designs to be pressed. Therefore, Queen Elizabeth II, at present, will need to give the ‘ok’ to any new coin lines before they can pass the Mint and into society.
In fact, the Queen technically has the right to any buried coinage you might find hidden around the UK. Therefore, if you manage to dig up a pirate’s stash of coins down the beach one day, you’re legally obliged to turn it over within two weeks. However, this process exists to ensure that museums have first refusal over ancient coins. If not, to the finder go the spoils.
It’s thought that – thanks to the Royal Mint – there are almost 29 billion different coins in circulation in the UK.
While you can still see gold at the Royal Mint, actual gold hasn’t been used in coin production since the outbreak of the First World War.
Despite the hard work of the Mint and of note printers, it seems that counterfeiting occurs more in the UK than in most countries. In fact, you’re likely to find around 300 fake notes in every million. That doesn’t sound like much but think how much money changes hands regularly!
You’ll find the Royal Mint based in the relatively small and unassuming community of Llantrisant, though this was not its original location. It was moved across from London to Wales through the Prime Ministership of James Callaghan in the 1970s.
But why was the Mint moved at all? It’s thought that there was growing pressure to keep developing space in the capital for coin-making. Therefore, Callaghan chose to issue a move to Wales.
It’s thought that Mint Masters – or moneyers, according to official terminology – have been pressing coins in the UK since at least 650 AD. However, the Mint itself is thought to have been an institution for a little over a millennium.
Do you have any interesting facts about the Royal Mint that we’ve not covered? Share them here in the comments section below!