Coins are valuable historical artefacts that can illuminate the economics and technology, the art and politics, the religion and ceremonies of a people. How a nation chooses to represent itself on its coinage is testimony to what it values and celebrates. Coins provide a way in which states and monarchs can communicate with a mass audience and from the earliest times the symbolic meaning of coins has not been lost on those exercising power.
Throughout the 1000 years or so of the Royal Mint’s existence, the English and then the British coinage has remained its principal focus. But overseas work has become increasingly important – from a trickle in the late eighteenth century, it became a steady stream in the nineteenth and then a flood from the 1920s onwards. Today the Royal Mint is the largest exporting mint in the world, supplying around 50 countries in an average year. So it is that the coins produced by the Royal Mint can offer important insights into the history not only of the United Kingdom but also, to a greater or lesser extent, of most other countries in the world.