Royal Mint Trip 2018
On Tuesday July 3rd 2018, 51 of our members boarded a Heyfordian coach for our visit to The Royal Mint, Llantrisant, near Cardiff. After a brief comfort stop, we crossed the River Severn into Wales, arriving in plenty of time to find refreshment in the spacious restaurant. After passing through security, we watched a short introductory film. Llantrisant celebrates its 50th anniversary in December this year. The site was originally built to produce the new decimal coinage required for D Day (Decimal Day) in February 1971.The location was chosen by James Callaghan, Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint, as his constituency was Cardiff South.
It occupies about 35 acres and employs around 1000 members of staff. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week with most workers doing 12 hour shifts. It is the world’s leading export mint and produces around 90,000,000. (yes 90million) coins per week. Coins are produced here for more than 50 nations. Medals, including those for the 2012 London Olympics and the Military along with Commemorative coins marking special occasions are also minted at Llantrisant.
The first Mint was established in 1279, in The Tower of London. Production remained secure between the inner and outer walls for 500 years in an area known as Mint Street. At one time, Sir Isaac Newton was Warden of the Mint. During 1811 there was a gradual move to purpose built premises on Tower Hill, mainly to accommodate the new steam powered machinery.
We were able to see through glass windows into the coin press room where the machinery produces around 10,000 blanks per minute. The various metals are heated to a temperature of 1400 degrees C and once the disc shapes are produced, any surplus metal is recycled. We learned that much of the old coinage, no longer legal tender, is returned to the Mint and recycled where possible into new coins. Various other machines and techniques produce the distinctive edges of the coins and the variety of shapes.
The first coin depicting the head of a reigning monarch was introduced during the time of Henry V11. Tradition dictates that the Sovereign’s head always faces in the opposite direction to that of his/her predecessor. Thus, as Queen Elizabeth’s head faces to the right, the next monarch will be depicted facing to the left.
There are numerous designs on the various coins, both past and present, with new ones always in the design stage. Her Majesty the Queen has the casting vote to approve any new design. Check your change! Do you have a 50p coin showing Jemima Puddleduck on it, or perhaps one of the Kew Gardens edition? These are quite rare and could be worth more than face value. Have you ever noticed the inscriptions on the edge of the £2 coin? The most common is a quote from Sir Isaac Newton, “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”. Another is on the £2 issued to celebrate the Anniversary of the London Underground. It says, appropriately, “Mind the Gap”.
If you put one circulation of 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p and 1p together in a pattern,
they will depict the Royal Coat of Arms, a design which was used on one of the old £1 coins.
The newest coin is the controversial twelve sided £1 coin. Since it was estimated that 3% of the old £1 coins was counterfeit, there are a number of security features in the new one. Have you spotted the hologram under the Queens head? It is estimated that there are approximately 28 billion coins in circulation at any time. With many collectors pursuing their hobby of Numismatics, coins thrown into wishing wells, being lost down the side of the sofa or just left in “piggy banks” for a rainy day, we will always need new coins. We arrived safely back in Bicester at around 6.45p.m. Thank you so much Ray Thomas for organising this very memorable day out. (He insists he had help but most of the credit is his). It was a really excellent trip. A few photos follow giving a taste of the trip.