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|Mintmarks on British Coins|
The Origin of Mintmarks
Since ancient times, mintmarks or mint-marks have been placed on some coins to denote the particular mint at which they were struck. In the earliest times, there was no need for mintmarks, as each city or state produced only a small number of coins which would all have been produced at the same mint.
Later as empires grew, monetary authorities found it necessary to produce coins in numerous local mints. It became necessary to mark the coins in some way, using small unobtrusive private marks or letters to denote the mint town, or often the moneyer in charge of the mint. This provided some means of quality control, in that short weight coins could, and were, traced to their origin, and appropriate measures taken.
Under the Greek and Roman empires, mintmarks became commonplace on coins.
There are over 100 towns in Britain where coins are known to have been minted at some in history.
We will be returning to this page later with more information about mint towns during the period before coins were "milled" or made by machine. In modern times, from the introduction of coining presses, the number of mints in operation has declined, through the obvious effects of mass production, and easier transport.
Throughout most of this period, the Royal Mint, which was always located in London until the 1960's, but is now at Llantrisant in South Wales, has been one of the few mints in the world which does not normally use a mintmark, at least for British coins. Most other mints have employed a mint letter or other mark.
The British Empire and Branch Mints
During the glorious days of the British Empire, gold was discovered in many British possessions. Branch mints were opened to coin the gold into gold sovereigns and half sovereigns in these territories, rather than transport it back to Britain for coining.
S = Sydney, Australia
In 1871, the Sydney mint in Australia started production of standard British gold sovereigns, distinguishable only by the addition of a quite small letter "S", placed at first below the shield on the reverse of the coin, then later below the head. Production of sovereigns at Sydney finished in 1926, although this date with the Sydney mintmark, like many others, is extremely rare.
M = Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne followed suit in 1872, using the letter "M".
P = Perth, Australia
Perth opened in 1899 using the letter "P", and continued until 1931.
C = Ottawa, Canada
The Ottawa mint in Canada started production of sovereigns in 1908 using the letter "C", and continued until 1919.
S.A. = Pretoria, South Africa
In 1923, the Pretoria mint in South Africa started production of sovereigns, following the discovery of large local gold deposits. It continued until 1932. This was the last year for which sovereigns were struck and issued for circulation, although there have been sovereigns struck since for coronations, and sovereign production restarted in 1958, but to supply the bullion market rather than to circulate.
I = Bombay, India
The Bombay mint in India struck sovereigns in one single year, 1918, using the letter "I"
Llantrisant Mint Mark
In 1983 a mintmark was introduced on the new one pound coin issued for the first time in that year.
On the milled edge of the coin is the Llantrisant mint mark - a cross crosslet. This is the first United Kingdom coin to be struck with this distinctive feature. The shape of the cross alluding to Llantrisant, which translated from the Welsh means "Church or Parish of the Three Saints".
You may wish to visit some of our other pages:
British Coin Denominations. What's a Groat,? etc.
Common Names of British Coins. What's a Tanner?
Inscriptions on British Coins
Value of my Coin. What's it Worth?
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