Friday 11 June, 2021

Royal Mint coins at Trial of the Pyx – how a 13th century process is protecting today’s consumers


•    The Royal Mint’s new coins have been submitted for testing in the annual Trial of the Pyx ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London.
•    The Trial is one of the UK’s oldest judicial ceremonies, dating back to 1248. 
•    The coins struck by The Royal Mint are tested by a jury for purity and quality.

The Royal Mint’s coins have been submitted for testing today (Friday 11th June) at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London in the annual Trial of the Pyx ceremony.  

The Trial, the UK’s oldest judicial ceremony, aims to protects consumers and upholds the quality of the nation’s coinage – as important today as it has been since the first public Trial in 1248.  This includes ensuring the coins maintain the precision and accuracy that The Royal Mint is known for.

A sample of new coins struck by The Royal Mint is rigorously and independently checked for fineness and quality by an independent jury of Goldsmiths’ Company members, before further analysis by the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office – which will test the purity of precious metal by taking samples from the coins. 

Graeme Smith is the Queen’s Assay Master at The Royal Mint, a position that’s existed since the 12th century and maintains responsibility to answer for the purity of money. The Trial of the Pyx forms part of this role.  Graeme comments: “The position of Queen’s Assay Master represents the financial integrity of the nation. Essentially an assay master, supported by a team of people, assays (or tests) coins, or bullion we produce, to ensure that the items contain just the amount of metal which they say they do. This ensures faith from everyday consumers; they can rest assured that the money they hold is of the right quality.”

Many members of the public may take for granted the testing of the coins they use every day but the quality team at The Royal Mint are dedicated to ensuring every product produced is of the high standard expected.  

Graeme continues: “The purpose of the Trial is as valid today as it was when it started over 700 years ago.  It assures the public and the government of the quality and authenticity of the nation’s coinage and maintains trust and confidence and ensures that the highest standards are met and maintained in the minting of UK coinage. With coins used in vending for example, the importance of size, weight and assay is paramount.  The Trial’s influence ensures that all products made by The Royal Mint are made to the highest standards. Effectively, the Trial is one of many verifications to check that we’re doing what we say we’re doing.”

Dame Lynne Brindley, Prime Warden (Chairs the Board) of the Goldsmiths’ Company says:

“For as long as people use coins, whether as items of commemoration or currency, The Trial of the Pyx will remain as relevant now as it was over 700 years ago. It is the responsibility and proud duty of the Goldsmiths’ Company to test these coins, protecting consumers and maintaining the integrity of our national economic institutions and traditions. And while recent times have been marked by uncertainty on many fronts, our unfailing commitment to upholding the quality of our national coinage means that everyone can have complete confidence in it.” 

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