World Coins

Stack’s to auction 2023 Trial of the Pyx British coins

The Trial of the Pyx is an annual event dating back to the 13th century. An image from the 2021 Trial appears here.

Image courtesy of the Royal Mint.

Collectors will soon have a chance to acquire British coins that were scrutinized during the 2023 Trial of the Pyx.

Stack’s Bowers Galleries is auctioning these coins in February 2024, in a partnership with the Royal Mint.

This will be the first public auction presentation for Trial of the Pyx test coins.

About the Trial

The annual Trial of the Pyx is an ancient and rigorous evaluation ceremony with origins that stretch back over seven centuries. It is conducted to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the nation’s coinage.

Dating to 1282, it is one of the oldest judicial ceremonies in England. During the trial, a selected panel of expert assayers from the Goldsmiths’ Company, an independent organization, examines a sample of coins produced by the Royal Mint the previous year.

The coins are tested for weight, diameter, composition, and design, verifying their compliance with legal standards set by the Coinage Act. The findings are reported to the Royal Remembrancer, who presides over the trial on behalf of the Crown.

The trial concludes with an announcement of the verdict, confirming the quality and accuracy of the coinage.

To explore the history of the trial and promote the auction, the Royal Mint and Stack’s created a seven-minute mini-documentary video offering interviews with key figures and rare footage of the trial.

Auction contents

The special auction will feature a selection of gold, silver, and platinum coins tested in the 2023 Trial of the Pyx, which assessed coins struck in 2022.

Comprising a wide range of categories, the coins include numismatic classics such from as the sovereign and Britannia series, as well as coins celebrating modern pop-culture icons including James Bond, Harry Potter, and the Rolling Stones.

The auction selection is particularly noteworthy for spanning the numismatic legacies of two monarchs — Queen Elizabeth II and King Charles III — and for including many coins struck to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee.

Highlights include examples of the 2022 Proof 5-ounce gold Britannia coin, the 2022 Proof 5-ounce gold Queen Elizabeth II memorial coin, the 2022 Proof platinum £5 Queen Elizabeth II piedfort coin, the 2022 Proof 2-ounce gold Rolling Stones coin and the 2022 Proof Harry Potter coins.

“This auction event will certainly have global appeal on multiple fronts,” said Stack’s Bowers Galleries President Brian Kendrella, in a press release. “The subject matter featured on the coins runs the gamut from pop culture to the British Monarchy to actual British coinage, and we expect the prices realized will include some very affordable collector’s items alongside extremely valuable rarities. Our entire team is excited about bringing this historically important offering to market.” 

The auction will feature both individual items and multi-coin lots, offering collectors a variety of options to purchase these test pieces.

The coins will be encapsulated by grading service Numismatic Guaranty Co. and will feature custom labels recognizing their historic significance. Every coin also bears distinct evaluation marks associated with the Trial of the Pyx, making each a truly unique item.

This joint effort between Stack’s Bowers Galleries and the Royal Mint comes on the heels of a similar partnership between the two organizations in August 2023, where a special auction of Royal Succession sovereign and Britannia coins realized more than $5.1 million.

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