Q - Is there anyway to prove that the Royal Mint isn't "skimming" off the top?
That's a good question..... But what do I mean by that?
Let's start by first asking what is the role of the Royal Mint:
The Royal Mint is a government-owned mint that produces coins for the United Kingdom. Operating under the name Royal Mint Ltd, the mint is a limited company that is wholly owned by Her Majesty's Treasury and is under an exclusive contract to supply all the nation's coinage.
In a nutshell, the primary role of the Royal Mint is to make sure there is enough circulating coinage to keep up with demand.
Q - But what gives coinage value?
That is also a very good question and is easily answered.
The RM was first opened in 886AD by Alfred the Great after he recaptured London and began minting silver penny's with his portrait on them. From 1279 all mints in the UK now came under control of the RM and so a standardised procedure was required to make sure all coins were identical. The RM at the time was located in the Tower of London
With the ever expanding British empire, more and more coins were needed to keep up with demand all thoughout the colonies. So the RM woved from the Tower to just across the road to Tower Hill and a new purpose build building
There it happily produced coins for the UK and its colonies right up untill 1966, when it upped sticks once more and moved to my neck of the woods, to the most modern, cutting edge mint on the planet (at the time), here in LLANTRISANT.
So now we know a little bit of pointless history, I'll get back to my point...
The Mint makes coins. The mint makes coins to circulate and to be used as "legal tender". So in order for a coin to be accepted as legal tender, it must have some value (or at least pretend to). To do this, the RM has used precious metals and other alloys to manufacture coins.
This is where the "Trial of the Pyx" comes in.
The Trial of the Pyx is the procedure for making sure newly minted coins meet the required standards. These trials have been held from the twelfth century (1282AD) to the present day. The Trial of the Pyx has a long and fascinating history of bringing together some of the United Kingdom’s oldest organisations. It takes place once per year and is due to start in the next few days. It is one of the nation’s longest established judicial ceremonies. The purpose of the trial is to ensure the quality and accuracy of the UKs coinage. The trial involves the Chancellor of the Exchequer, representatives of The Royal Mint and freemen of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, commonly known as The Goldsmiths’ Company.
The word 'pyx' comes from the Latin word 'pyxis' or small box. The trial of the "PYX" refers to the chests used to transport the coins.
Coins are randomly selected from every batch of each denomination struck. They are sealed in bags of 50 and locked away in the Pyx boxes for testing at the Trial.
'Pyx packets' are taken from the chests and each member of the jury must select one coin at random. They then place them into a ceremonial copper bowl in front of them for testing.
Following the initial inspection for damage and errors, the Trial moves into the Assay Office where coins are weighed, measurements are taken and the composition of the metals used is tested.
Each coin is checked to ensure it meets the specifications set out in the relevant section of the Coinage Act or Royal Proclamation.
If all coins pass then the RM is allowed to continue to mint coins for the following year.
So are the Royal Mint stealing from us??
We will find out in a few days time to see of they are.