Royal Mint to auction rare trial pieces for first time

For the first time in its 1,100-year history, Britain’s Royal Mint will offer rare trial pieces at auction.

The Sept. 26 mint auction will feature 60 trial pieces “following growing demand from collectors,” according to a statement issued by the government-owned minting operation. The sale is the centrepiece of the mint’s “Collect Week,” an annual celebration of collecting, which also features a free webinar series, awards and other virtual events hosted via royalmint.com. The trial strikes auction features designs such as Kew Gardens 50-pence coin plus other issues from the “Three Graces,” a collection that sold out in 25 minutes last December. The trials do not form part of their respective issue’s standard mintage and have never been previously sold.

“Each year, the Royal Mint introduces a range of original new coin designs celebrating British milestones, anniversaries and themes. Each of these designs requires a trial to ensure the design meets our exacting standards and results in a handful of trial pieces,” Rebecca Morgan, the mint’s director of collector services, said in early September. “This month, we are delighted to offer a sample of our trial pieces at auction for the first time. Each of the trial pieces has played an integral role in creating the final coin, and offer collectors the chance to own a part of numismatic history.”

A trial strike of the Royal Mint’s 2020 ‘Three Graces’ one-kilogram gold proof coin is one of 60 trials up for auction this month.

The upcoming auction will feature trial strikes of the following coins:

  • the 2019 piedfort sovereign gold proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces gold proof kilo;
  • the 2020 Three Graces two-ounce silver proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces five-ounce silver proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces silver proof kilo;
  • the 2020 Three Graces 10-ounce silver proof;
  • the 2020 Three Graces 10-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 “50 Years of the 50p” 50-pence gold proof piedfort;
  • the 2020 “Pay Attention 007” two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 “Shaken Not Stirred” two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 “Shaken Not Stirred” quarter-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 Queen’s Beasts “Falcon of the Plantagenets” five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 Britannia five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2021 Britannia one-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 Britannia two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2021 Britannia five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 Britannia one-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 “C – Cricket” 10-pence gold proof;
  • the 2020 David Bowie one-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 David Bowie two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 David Bowie five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 David Bowie quarter-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2019 “D-Day 75” 50-pence gold proof;
  • the 2019 “D-Day 75” £2 gold proof;
  • the 2020 Elton John five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 Elton John quarter-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 “A Celebration of the Reign of George III” two-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 “A Celebration of the Reign of George III” five-ounce gold proof;
  • the 2020 “A Celebration of the Reign of George III” £5 gold proof;
  • the 2020 “Team GB” 50-pence gold proof;
  • Britannia New Pence 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof;
  • Bond, James Bond 2020 UK One Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Pay Attention 007 2020 UK One Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Shaken Not Stirred 2020 UK One Ounce Gold Proof;
  • 007 Special Issue 2020 UK Five-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Bond, James Bond 2020 UK Two-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Kew Gardens 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof;
  • Kew Gardens 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof Piedfort;
  • the 400th Anniversary of the Voyage of the Mayflower 2020 UK £2 Gold Proof;
  • Queen 2020 UK Five-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Queen 2020 UK Quarter-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • 50 Years of the 50p 2019 UK 50p Gold Proof;
  • the Queen’s Beasts The White Horse of Hanover 2020 UK Five-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • Queen 2020 UK One Ounce Gold Proof;
  • the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Queen Victoria 2019 UK Five-Ounce Gold Proof;
  • the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Queen Victoria Celebration Sovereign;
  • the Five Sovereign Piece 2019 Brilliant Uncirculated;
  • the Double Sovereign 2019 Gold Proof;
  • the Double Sovereign 2020 Gold Proof;
  • the Five Sovereign Piece 2019 Gold Proof;
  • the Five Sovereign Piece 2020 Gold Proof;
  • the Half-Sovereign 2019 Gold Proof;
  • the Half-Sovereign 2020 Gold Proof;
  • the Quarter-Sovereign 2019 Gold Proof;
  • the Quarter-Sovereign 2020 Gold Proof;
  • the Sovereign 2019 Gold Proof;
  • the Sovereign 2020 Gold Proof; and
  • the 75th Anniversary of VE Day 2020 UK £2 Gold Proof.

TRIAL PIECES

A trial piece is one of the first samples struck using a new die, and at the Royal Mint, they’re inspected by staff “to ensure it meets their exacting standards,” according to the recent mint statement.

The trial pieces are then stored for posterity while the design is officially approved by the Queen before the official coins can be struck. To ensure authenticity, each die trial piece bears a hallmark stating the coin’s metal quality plus a unique latent security feature designed by Gordon Summers, the mint’s chief engraver. Setting the standard for all issued coins, trial strikes are used to ensure accurate tooling plus the clarity of the design and other details of proof coins.

“Interest in trial pieces has grown significantly over recent years as customers increasingly seek out exclusive and rare items for their collections,” said Morgan. “Many customers will treasures the trial pieces as part of a collection or even investments—so we have added a security feature to safeguard their provenance.”

On Sept. 20 at 11 a.m. local time (6 a.m. ET), the Royal Mint will host a free webinar with Summers and Dan Thomas, the mint’s new product technical manager, exploring die trial pieces.

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