Ancient Royal Mint ceremony tests the quality of Prince George coins

Goldsmiths, Royal Mint
The Trial of the Pyx is an ancient ceremony still used by the Royal Mint

Britain magazine

The Royal Family was not the only British institution to gain a new addition in 2013 – the Royal Mint also produced a number of coins to commemorate the birth of the future monarch.

A £20 coin to celebrate the birth of Prince George of Cambridge and a kilo coin to celebrate his christening were added to the Royal Mint’s collection last year and these two coins were among the selection that were tested at the Royal Mint’s ancient ceremony, the Trial of the Pyx, yesterday in London.

The Trial of the Pyx is one of the oldest quality assurance trials in the world; the first public record of the trial dates back to 1248.

At the trial, jury members selected from the Liverymen of the Goldsmiths’ Company check the quality of the coins. Members are presented with Pyx boxes (Pyx is the Roman word for chest), which contain samples of all circulating and commemorative coins produced by The Royal Mint in the previous year, and these coins are put on trial to ascertain the accuracy of their quality.

For centuries the coins have been weighed, checked and examined, although ancient legislation was much harsher than it is today. The blame for any issues with quality and accuracy lie with the Master of the Mint (today a role held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer), and in 1318, one master was sent to prison for six weeks, (even Sir Isaac Newton was questioned during his time as Master of the Mint when the integrity of his coin samples was questioned). Thankfully in modern times punishments are less stiff.

The Trial of the Pyx continues to be an important part of the Royal Mint’s production and helps the Royal Mint to hold on to its international reputation for excellence in its production of coins.

Dating back 1100 years, the Royal Mint makes coins and medals for around 60 countries each year, making it the leading export mint in the world.

To learn more about The Royal Mint’s coins please visit royalmint.com.

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