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Royal Mint Quality Control

Author: Lawrence Chard - Director and Expert Numismatist

Published: 30 Sep 2020

Last Updated: 9 Dec 2020

Synopsis

This is our 'black museum' of poor quality coins from the Royal Mint - click on the pictures on this article for more high-resolution images.

We are aware that no production process is perfect, but we get very few problems with coins from other mints; it is our guess that the Mint are trying to cut production costs to the last fraction of a penny, and this strikes us as a really bad way to retain or enhance its claimed reputation for high quality.

Bullion Coin Bleamishes

The Mint have recently announced that the 2021 Britannia range will have new anti-counterfeit security features. This, however, is not the first time the Mint have put such security characteristics on their bullion coins...

2014 Silver Britannia Bullion Coin - Reverse

We received this delivery of Royal Mint 2014 Silver Britannias in November 2013. Quite understandably, most collectors and investors when buying new coins prefer them without fingerprints, or other blemishes and imperfections.

2014 Silver Britannia Bullion Coin - Obverse

This is the obverse of the same 2014 silver Britannia. These coins came as received in mint-sealed tubes! Fingerprints galore...

2021 Silver Greyhound of Richmond Queen’s Beast Coin - Obverse

Receiving this coin, again fresh in a mint-sealed tube, highlights the typical Royal Mint quality control, or lack of it.

2017 Gold Bullion Uncirculated Sovereign - Obverse

Every year, we find many examples, too often, of poor quality, faulty Royal Mint coins, whether proofs, bullion or "brilliant uncirculated", it seems quality control is very sloppy and lax.

2016 Gold Bullion Uncirculated Sovereigns - Obverse

Our photographer has made these look much better than they are. The flaw seems to have been made by swarf, debris or other foreign matter getting embedded into the die, thus repeating the fault on numerous subsequent strikes.

Proof Coin Imperfections

Despite the Royal Mint's proud claims that it produces coins to very high standards, discoveries like on the coins below is almost a normal occurrence. In the case of new products, we get the hassle of returning these rejects to our suppliers, then our suppliers have to return them to the Mint. We do not currently deal direct with the Royal Mint.

When they get replaced, the Mint then ship them to our suppliers, who re-send them to us. A very time-consuming and unsatisfactory process, mainly caused because the Royal Mint fail to take full responsibility for the quality of their products. Although we are not surprised by this, it does call into question the Royal Mint's dubious claims about its unmatchable quality.

2020 Silver Proof 1/40 oz Britannia Coin Mis-Strike - Reverse

A Chards staff member commented that this coin was 'completely out of whack on the rim during minting process'. Despite being a very small coin, the misaligned rim is glaringly obvious.

This looks like very poor quality control during manufacture and inspection.

2020 Rosalind Franklin Gold Proof 50 Pence Coin - Reverse

The certificate which accompanied this chipped proof coin included the words:

"This means you can be assured that the coins in your possession is of the highest quality. It is advisable to avoid handling the coins as fingerprints will spoil its proof quality."

1973 UK Proof Annual Standard Coin Set 

These problems are not limited to recent coin issues. Back in 1973, the Royal Mint only issued ‘standard’ UK annual coin sets. What the Mint never told anybody is that they used sub-standard packaging which caused the coins to tarnish very badly.

As the tarnish happened over a period of years, owners never noticed in time to obtain a refund or replacement from the Royal Mint. From conversations with owners in possession of these sets, any contact with the Royal Mint has been unfruitful.

It sounds like the Royal Mint produced and supplied products with latent defects, got away with it, and now disown the problem. Not a great advert for their customer care, high standards of quality control, or ethical behaviour.

2017 Gold Sovereign Brilliant Uncirculated Coin - Obverse

Although this strike-on-the-day sovereign is not a proof coin, it is struck in a 'brilliant uncirculated' condition, which means they are struck three times. They are considered to be better condition than bullion coins, so should not have scratch marks on the monarch's face, especially given this particular sovereign was a 200th anniversary special edition coin.

Incompetence or Ignorance?

In the opinion of our director, Lawrence Chard, the Royal Mint produces and sells the poorest quality bullion and proof coins of any of the world's mints, yet generally seeks to get the highest price for them. Other mints manage to pack bullion coins without putting fingerprints on them and check if they are up to bullion standard.

We think they are smugly sitting on and abusing their monopoly of the UK market, especially considering British coins, being sterling, are exempt from capital gains tax. Such things should be an embarrassment for the Mint, especially when compared to the quality of bullion coins from other world mints. But given the Mint seem to have little interest in coins in general and are content to ride off the back of their 800-year old ‘reputation’, we are not surprised that such incidents occur.

Further Reading

You may be interested in reading through the following:

Precious Metal and Coin News

Gold Guides

Buying Gold From The Royal Mint Could Change

Expensive Novelty Coin Gifts and Marketing Trickery

Related Blog Articles

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