Our speaker, on 29th January 2020, is the Exhibition Manager of the Museum at the Royal Mint at Llantrisant. She started with an outline of the history of the Mint.It was created about a thousand years ago at the Tower of London and continued producing coinage there until 1812 when, because of lack of space for the increasing volume of production, a new building on Tower Hill was opened. In 1966 at the time of decimalization the extra coin production required a much larger premises. A short list of candidates was drawn up but due to the influence of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer James Callaghan, an MP for Cardiff, Llantrisant was chosen and a large site constructed- some 38 acres.
The Mint is responsible for producing coins for more than 60 countries, producing medals and also the Olympic Medals for the 2012 Games in London. Examples of every product (at every stage of the production from initial drawing to final coin) is kept and often referred to by designers of future products.
We heard several interesting stories including that involving King Edward VIII. A few coins were produced but not issued before his abdication. The Mint has a tradition that the Monarch’s head faces the opposite direction to that taken by the predecessor. So Edward VIII’s head should have faced to the right (as King George V faced to the left) but the King insisted that his head should face to the left as he thought (due to vanity) that his profile looked better in that direction. The Mint then had a quandary when King George VI came to the throne. Should it follow tradition and face the head to the opposite direction of the few KE8 coins actually made (hence to the right) or ignore them- as not issued- and use the opposite direction to the direction they should have faced (i.e. to the left.) In fact the coins for King George VI were issued with the head facing left – as if KE8’s coins should have been issued facing right.