If you live in Australia, Ghana, India, Canada, Thailand or one of many other countries, your money is made at the Royal Mint, just a short drive from the Welsh capital city of Cardiff.
Last Friday (31st January), I got the incredible chance to not only visit the Mint but to also strike 3 coins on the day that marked the UK leaving the EU. Despite tours happening every 15 minutes over a 24 hour period, tickets got snapped up really quickly so I was really lucky to even see this event pop up on my Facebook feed. But if you fancy seeing money being made, you’re not too late as tours are run daily. Whilst you could just turn up and chance it, it’s probably best to book in advance on the Royal Mint Experience website.
Tours start with a brief history of the Royal Mint that was first located within the grounds of the Tower of London. We were then told about the production process from blanks being made and then imprinted with designs that we’ve all become familiar with. Did you know that the Mint makes 10 million coins a day on average? When you go into the actual production part of the factory, the sound of the metal falling into huge receptacles is quite deafening! I would love to have taken photos within the factory to show you but cameras are absolutely forbidden and we were told that security was soon descend upon us if a phone emerged from our pockets!
If you’re a bit of a geek like me, one of the coolest things to learn about was the design of the first of 4 coins linked to our EU membership. Did you know that we were the 9th country to join the EU which explains why there are nine hands on the coin. And if you’re wondering why the hands appear to be different sizes, it’s because the design is based on the artist’s own hand and his wife’s!
As well as regular coins, you may sometimes notice that there are unusual designs. For example, have you ever spotted one with Paddington Bear on it? How about a sports design from the 2012 Olympic Games or reference to the Boy Scouting movement? I currently have about 20 with all kinds of designs and I eagerly check my change each time I go shopping. The Mint’s currently making coins with Wallace and Gromit characters on so there was a fascinating display about the making of the TV programme as well as a huge exhibition about the history of money making. And there was a shop with coins, stationery and all manner of things that were very tempting to step away from! Ooh…and the Mint makes medals too, including the Olympic and Paralympic medals from 2012 that were on display here.
These were the three coins I struck. Apparently, as soon as a fingerprint ends up on the actual coin, it’s deemed to be in circulation and devalues so these are staying firmly in their packs!
Look out for an extra post this week about what else I got up to on my whirlwind 24 hour trip to Wales last weekend and about one of the most scary junctions I’ve ever driven through in England. Even for an experienced driver, it was scary but I came away with a HUGE sense of accomplishment that I’d survived! And next weekend, I’ll tell you in detail where I’m heading off in May.
Hope you have a great weekend, everyone xx