Tuesday 2 February, 2016
Trial of the Pyx Opened at Goldsmiths’ Hall
The historic Trial of the Pyx opened at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London on 2 February. The Trial has tested the nation’s coinage since the thirteenth century.
Held at Goldsmiths’ Hall since 1871, the Trial of the Pyx fulfils a requirement imposed by an Act of Parliament (Coinage Act 1971) to conduct an examination by jury to ascertain that the coins produced by the Royal Mint are of the correct weight, size and composition. As such, this ancient ceremony has direct relevance to every user of UK coinage today.
The Opening of the Trial was, as always, presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, the oldest judicial post to remain in continual existence in the country. In her role of Queen’s Remembrancer, Senior Master Barbara Fontaine, swore in a jury of 16 liverymen of the Goldsmiths' Company, one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London.
In the next phase of the Trial, randomly selected samples of coins – roughly 96,000 - are sent for analysis by the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, the UK’s longest established assay office. Over the next few weeks, the coins will be assayed and measured using the standard Trial Plates, provided by the National Measurement and Regulation Office.
One of the most remarkable items to appear at this year’s trial was a 1kg gold coin to celebrate Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II becoming the longest reigning monarch.
During the Trial, the Queen’s Remembrancer wore full court dress complete with a tricorn hat. Jurors included wardens of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, equally resplendent in their robes of office, the Deputy Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office and a selection of the Company’s liverymen. Also in attendance were the Deputy Master of the Mint and the CEO of the National Measurement and Regulation Office.
The final phase of the Trial, the Delivery of the Verdicts, will take place on 29 April 2016. The Court reconvenes at Goldsmiths’ Hall and the jury delivers its verdicts to the Queen’s Remembrancer in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is on trial in his capacity as Master of the Mint.