On November 11, the Royal Mint launched the Britannia .9999 fine gold and .999 fine silver bullion coin range for 2017, heralding what will be a very special year for the allegorical personification of Britain. Next year will mark 20 years since silver Britannia bullion coins featured sculptor Philip Nathan’s design, and 30 years since it was first struck on the gold Britannia bullion coin.
Britannia, now woven into Britain’s heritage, first appeared on British coinage in 1672 during the reign of Charles II, and her presence on circulating coins was consistent until 2008. She has since been reintroduced to our circulating coinage as the reverse design on the definitive £2 coin introduced last year.
It was in 1987 when the United Kingdom’s first-ever purpose-struck gold bullion coins were minted, ostensibly as an alternative to the Krugerrand, the Maple Leaf, the Gold Eagle, and, to a lesser extent, the Gold Panda. The coin was produced in 22 carat gold, or .9167 fine, as opposed to a pure .9999 fineness. This was changed in 2013, when the fineness was increased to pure gold in an effort to compete with other bullion coins minted in this preferred pureness. Additionally, the new Britannia line of bullion coins were also available in fractional sizes of 1/2-, 1/4-, and 1/10-ounce sizes. The coins bore face values of £100 for the 1-ounce size, £50 for the 1/2-ounce, £25 for the 1/4-ounce, and £10 for the 1/10-ounce. In 2013, a 5-ounce bullion coin with a face value of £500 and a 1/20-ounce piece with a face value of £5 were added to the product range.
Source: Coin Update