Gold and silver Britannia coins are amongst the most popular and sought after coins in the world. Together with their officially guaranteed properties, their absolute purity, and their top quality design and craftsmanship, these brilliant coins have become world famous for a particular characteristic that makes them unique, and that is the images of Lady Britannia that adorn their reverse side, shinning as symbols of British historyand her proud island heritage and values.
Most gold and silver bullion coins made for investors use the same standard design every year, with the year of issue being the only variation. Sovereigns, Krugerrands, American Eagles and many other bullion coins follow this policy. On the other hand, a number of bullion coins, such as Britannias, use alternate designs on a regular basis, while others such as Chinese Pandas or Australian Kangaroos change their reverse side image annually.
The beautiful pictures of the loveable pandas and the exotic kangaroos are without doubt agreeable symbols of indigenous wildlife, but the presence of Lady Britannia transmits an entirely different message: herdivine figure personifies Great Britain, a country whose values and tradition remain pure and unchanged through the centuries.
Lady Britannia alternate designs
The figure of a regal-looking young woman wearing a Roman centurion helmet and holding a spear, pictured seated on a rock as she is gracefully taking her throne after a battle: this was the personification of Britannia on Roman coins in the period of the Roman Emperor Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus. Seated Britannias are obviously designed in Hellenistic-Roman inspired style and should be considered more close to tradition.
The “Seated Britannia” (2005), the “Seated Britannia and the lion” (2007) and the 2011 “Seated Britannia covered with the Union Jack” are designs which have been familiar on British coins since 1672, reflecting the portraits of Britannia that appeared on Roman coins in the 2nd century AD, and the significance of the Roman province in the early years of its history. These were the years when valor in battle, love for freedom and justice, and thirst for knowledge and progress set the foundations of the British people’s character.
The 1997 “Lady Britannia on a chariot” design reminds us of times when the British Isles were too small for a people whose inquisitive mind needed to open new horizons. Trading goods and exchanging ideas, the British traveled to the four corners of the Earth, making strong bonds with the New World, as we see in the 2008 “Britannia standing by the sea and facing West” design.
Nathan’s original Britannia
Philip Nathan’s “original” Britannia design portrays her as a regal standing figure in a flowing gown wearing a Corinthian helmet, and holding an olive branch- the eternal symbol of peace. She is armed with a heraldic shield with the Union Jack, proudly clenching her trident- the symbol of Britain’s naval supremacy that lead to the establishment of the last great Empire the world has known.
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