Since their release in 1997 silver Britannias have always been struck in - rather aptly - Britannia silver. Until 2013. Silver Britannias are now being struck in 0.999 silver as opposed to 0.958 Britannia silver. We are not sure of the exact reasons for this - and can only speculate at this point - but we imagine it is to bring them in line with other World Mints. The Austrian Philharmonic, Chinese Panda, American Eagle, Canadian Maple and Australian silver bullion coins are all produced in fine silver.
Introduced in 1997 following the success of the gold Britannia, the Royal Mint started to produce a one ounce silver Britannia coin with a face value of two pounds (£2).The concept of the one ounce bullion coin was to provide an easy way to purchase convenient small quantities of bullion silver in the form of coins. For the first time in 2013, the purity is 0.999 Here is an oxymoron. A silver Britannia coin which is not a Britannia silver coin. Yes the British Royal Mint, in their infinite wisdom, have changed the alloy of the silver bullion Britannia coin from 958 parts per thousand fine silver to 999 parts per thousand. 958 fine silver is known as Britannia silver, and was first introduced in 1697 partly to deter clipping of silver coins. Ever since the Royal Mint started making silver bullion Britannias in 1998 (there were proof ones in 1997), they have always been made of Britannia silver. As far as we know, the Royal Mint have not publicly stated the reason for the change., but we suspect it may be for export markets, which are probably more important for the Mint than the domestic market. Now the new ones are made of 999 fine silver, they could be useful in an emergency. (For American viewers, we dial 999 not 911). The change could just be to save costs, as the blanks for the new coins will not need to be alloyed, cutting out a stage in production.
Fourth Portrait. From 1998, as with all British coins, the obverse design changed to the 'fourth portrait' showing a more mature likeness of The Queen
The reverse of this coin is the classic standing Britannia.