Friday 6 January, 2017

Trial of the Pyx 2017

The 2017 Trial of the Pyx will open at Goldsmiths' Hall on on 31 January. The Queen’s Remembrancer, Senior Master Barbara Fontaine will swear in a jury of 16 liverymen and freemen of the Goldsmiths' Company.

This year, approximately 35,000 coins produced by the Royal Mint in 2016 will be counted and scrutinised by the jury. 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.

Among the most remarkable items to appear at this year’s Trial will be a one kilo gold coin to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday (retail price: £42,500) and a 1 kilo Lunar Year of the Monkey gold coin (retail price: £49,995). Another important coin is the new 12-sided £1 coin, which will enter circulation in March.

Members of the Jury at the Trial of the Pyx, 2016

In the next phase of the Trial, randomly selected samples of coins 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 (tested for correct metallic composition, size and weight) and measured using the standard Trial Plates, provided by the National Measurement and Regulation Office.

The final phase of the Trial, the Delivery of the Verdicts, will take place on Friday 28 April 2017. The Court will reconvene at Goldsmiths’ Hall and the jury will deliver its verdicts to the Queen’s Remembrancer in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is technically on trial in his capacity as Master of the Mint.

During the Trial, the Queen’s Remembrancer wears full court dress complete with a tricorn hat. Jurors include 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 are The Royal Mint and Regulatory Delivery, Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and as the coinage of New Zealand is also being examined, the New Zealand High Commissioner will be present.

Dating back to the thirteenth century, the Trial of the Pyx is one of the longest established judicial procedures in the world and is steeped in tradition. It is presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, itself the oldest judicial post to remain in continual existence in the country. The annual event has taken place at Goldsmiths' Hall since 1871. Read more about the history of the Trial here.

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