- Britannia silver
Britannia silver is an
alloyof silvercontaining 95.84% silver, with the balance usually copper.
This standard was introduced in
Englandby Act of Parliamentin 1697 to replace sterling silveras the obligatory standard for items of "wrought plate". The lion passant gardant hallmarkdenoting sterling was replaced with "the figure of a woman commonly called Britannia", and the leopard's head mark of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmithsreplaced with a "lion's head erased".
Britannia standard silver was introduced by the
English governmentas part of the great recoinage scheme of William III from 1696, when attempts were made to limit the clipping and melting of sterling silver coinage. It was thought that by maintaining a higher standard for plate, there would be less incentive to put the newly issued sterling coins in the melting pot.Sterling silver was approved again for use by silversmiths from 1 June 1720, and thereafter Britannia silver has remained an optional standard for silver assay in the United Kingdomand Ireland. Since the hallmarking changes of 1 January 1999, Britannia silver has been denoted by the millesimal finenesshallmark 958, with the symbol of Britannia being applied optionally.
bullioncoins of the Royal Mintissued since 1998, known as "Britannias" for their reverse image, are minted in Britannia standard silver.
Britannia silver should be distinguished from
Britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy containing no silver.
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