Just had a visit to the head office of the Royal Mint in Cardiff, Wales.
I mentioned this to my host – “ah, I’m in Torchwood country” – but he unfortunately misheard me and thought I said that I was in “tortured country”. Maybe he made it the message he wanted to hear.
The Royal Mint goes back over 1,100 years to the Tower of London and King Alfred the Great.
It’s still owned by the Crown today, although that Crown is now the Treasury’s and not the Queen’s. You can read all about the history of the Mint, from the Tower to Wales if you want.
Clearly therefore it's The Mint, and nothing to do with Intuit's Mint.com, but the original and world-beating Mint.
This is demonstrated by a few facts and stats. For example, how much coinage is there in the UK today?
UK coins in circulation, as at 31st March 2011:
Coin Number of pieces, millions Face value, £millions Newly issued, 2010-11
£2 359 718 18.9
£1 1,501 1,505 58.3
50 pence 854 427 16.3
20 pence 2,536 507 118.9
10 pence 1,641 164 55.4
5 pence 3,767 188 198.3
2 pence 6,641 133 131.2
1 pence 11,297 113 514.2
Total 28,596 3,751 1,111.5
So there’s almost 30 billion coins in the UK worth £3.75 billion. This is not to say that UK coinage is rising, as they tell me that it’s in terminal decline with over two billion coins issued per year fifteen years ago and only a billion this year.
But it’s still a billion new coins.
Counterfeit coins are also interesting, with 2.81% of all £1 coins being found to be counterfeit in May 2010 compared with 2.64% in October 2009.
Meanwhile, most of the Royal Mint’s revenues comes from overseas coin production and commemorative coins these days. Here’s the headline revenues of the Royal Mint:
2010-11 £m 2009-10 £m
UK 31.1 22.6
Overseas 62.5 61.2
Commemorative coins 121.5 89. 0
As can be seen, overseas is a key part of the mix, with over 60 countires from Nigeria to Egypt using the Royal Mint’s coinage and medal capabilities. In fact, the Royal Mint claims to be world’s leading mint exporter and, by these numbers, that looks about right.
Oh and finally, many of the people at the Royal Mint are tossers.
Coin tossers that is.
Yep, they hold the Guinness World Record for 50p coin tossing, with 1,697 people tossing 50 pence pieces to celebrate the launch of the Olympic 2012 50p.
Talking of the Olympics, they’re also responsible for all the medals next year, so when our Olympians win their Golds, Silvers and Bronzes, just remember they all come from the one and only Royal Mint.