Tuesday 31 January, 2017

Trial of the Pyx Opens at Goldsmiths' Hall


The Trial of the Pyx opened at Goldsmiths’ Hall this morning, as approximately 35,000 coins produced by the Royal Mint in 2016 were counted and scrutinised by a jury in the City of London.

At the Opening of the Trial the Queen’s Remembrancer, Senior Master Barbara Fontaine, swore in a jury of 16 liverymen and freemen 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 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 reverse of the new one pound coin

New One Pound Coin

The new £1 coin will enter circulation in March 2017, and The Royal Mint is producing 1.5 billion of the new coins. The coin, based on the old threepenny bit which went out of circulation in 1971, is being scrutinised at this year’s Trial.

The reverse side of the coin shows the English rose, the Welsh leek, the Scottish thistle and the Northern Irish shamrock emerging from one stem within a royal coronet, designed by David Pearce. The fifth coin portrait of Her Majesty the Queen, designed by Royal Mint coin designer Jody Clark, is featured on the coin.

Other remarkable items to appear at this year’s Trial include a one kilo gold coin to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday and a 1 kilo Lunar Year of the Monkey gold coin.

The Trial of the Pyx

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 at 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.  Read more about the history of the Trial here.

The Delivery of the Verdicts

The final phase of the Trial, the Delivery of the Verdicts, takes place on Friday 28 April 2017. 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 technically on trial in his capacity as Master of the Mint.

Trial of the Pyx 2017. Source: BBC London
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