'Mule' Britannia: error versions of silver £2 coins surface

Britannia, Year of the Horse coins swap slightly different obverses
By , Coin World
Published : 03/03/14
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Collectors of Britannia silver bullion coins now have a pair of “mules” to consider.

Appropriately enough, a Year of the Horse coin is at the center of the error.

Approximately 17,000 examples of the 2014 Britannia 1-ounce silver £2 coins were struck with an obverse die intended for the Royal Mint’s inaugural Lunar bullion issue, celebrating the Year of the Horse in 2014. In addition, an estimated 38,000 examples of the Year of the Horse 1-ounce silver £2 coin were struck with an obverse die intended for the Britannia £2 coin.

Britannia mules in marketplace

Examples of the Britannia coin struck with the wrong obverse die have entered the marketplace, but so far, apparently, none of the Year of the Horse mules have traded in the market.

A “mule” in coinage results when two dies not intended to be paired together are used to strike coinage. The word “mule” plays off the animal that is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse.

The Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Queen Elizabeth II graces the obverse of both versions of both coins. A generally tiny but significant detail on the obverse makes the difference.

On standard examples of the Year of the Horse coin, no dentils are found about the rim; the standard Britannia coin has dentils. All Britannia coins are supposed to have dentils inside the rim on both sides of the coin, while both sides of the Year of the Horse coins are designed without dentils.

The reverse of the Britannia coin shows the classic Philip Nathan design of Britannia (the female personification of the British Isles). A horse appears on the reverse of the Lunar Year of the Horse bullion coins.

Both 2014 coins are .999 fine silver, matching the new fineness adopted for Britannia bullion coins in 2012. Diameters, weights and other specifications are the same.

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