With royal assent granted on Nov. 3, the Royal Mint in Britain can now strike gold and silver 1-kilogram coins to mark the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.
The Royal Mint plans to release 1-kilogram .9167 fine gold £1,000 coins and 1-kilogram .999 fine silver £500 coins with a diameter of 100 millimeters each, making them the largest coins of the United Kingdom. Confirmation of details is provided in the Feb. 4, 2011, testimony in the House of Commons from Member of Parliament Mark Lancaster (Milton Keynes North), who introduced the bill effectively allowing the large-size coins.
Royal Mint representatives have confirmed that full details of the kilogram coins will be released Nov. 22.
Striking kilogram coins has recently become part of Olympic commemorative coinage tradition, regardless of host nation, but before passage of the technical amendment, wording of the Coinage Act of 1971 prevented the Royal Mint from legally striking 1-kilogram coins for the United Kingdom. The Coinage Act mandated how the average tolerance or variance of weight of coins was to be determined, calculated for weights up to 1 kilogram worth of coins; the act did not make provisions for coins that weighed 1 kilogram.
Lancaster introduced a members bill to modify the wording to allow each coin proclamation to specify the standard weight. Without passage of the technical amendment, the Royal Mint would have had to scrap its plans for kilogram-sized coins despite a commitment to issuing them as part of the bid for the 2012 Games. Scrapping the plans would have forced the Royal Mint to “consider an alternative product to fill the gap” in the commemorative coin program.
“However, none of the alternatives would have anything like the appeal of the 1 kg coin. There is a global expectation that the Royal Mint and the London 2012 Olympic coin programme will follow in the footsteps of London’s predecessors,” according to Lancaster’s testimony.
The Royal Mint anticipates minting 60 of the gold coins and 14,000 of the silver coins, according to Lancaster’s testimony, which at the time projected the consumer prices for the coins at £40,000 and £1,250, respectively, while noting that the exact price that customers will pay for the coins will depend on the cost of gold and silver at the time they are produced. At the time of the testimony when those price estimates were determined, gold was trading at $1,355 an ounce and silver was at $28.91 an ounce. However, at press time Nov. 14, gold was priced considerably higher than at the time of Lancaster’s estimate, and the price of silver somewhat higher.
The first kilogram coin was introduced in 1992, according to Lancaster’s testimony, and most Olympic Games host nations in recent years — for example, Australia, Canada and China — have issued such coins, which have proved popular with collectors internationally.
The Royal Mint has solicited designs from “high-profile British artists” for use on the coins.
The amendment also enables the Royal Mint to strike kilogram coins for other themes of cultural significance and historical anniversaries, as well as sporting occasions, “leveling the playing field on which the Royal Mint can compete, appealing to collectors worldwide, even at the top end of the market,” said Justine Greening fellow minister of Parliament and economic secretary to the Treasury, during the Feb. 4 testimony.
The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 is another possible theme for kilogram-sized coins.
The Olympic kilogram coins would not, however, be the first kilogram coins struck by the Royal Mint; it has previously issued such coins for Alderney (including such a coin marking the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April). ■