Striking facts – the art of minting coins

Proof coins are struck using special dies and using more labour-intensive methods, they are inevitably more expensive but they offer qualities than cannot be matched by other coins.

We can produce up to 750 circulation standard coins a minute at The Royal Mint. That enables us to deliver millions of coins a year both to the UK and to a large number of international customers. We are the world’s leading export mint, so we need to be able to produce high volumes with a high standard of accuracy to retain our reputation and standing. We are able to do this because we have sophisticated processes and machinery, and a skilled workforce with years of experience.

From left to right, Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof and Piedfort Proof Coronation crowns
From left to right, Brilliant Uncirculated, Proof and Piedfort Proof Coronation crowns

The striking difference

Circulating coins are only struck once. Our process is sufficiently advanced to ensure that coins struck once are of very high quality. The rarity and collectability of error coins speaks for itself…we don’t make many mistakes!

The process for striking collector coins is quite different. Our entry-level commemorative collectable is called ‘Brilliant Uncirculated’ or ‘BU’. BU coins are processed in a similar way to circulating coins, but take over twice as long to produce.

Proof coins are a level above BU, and can be struck several times to ease the metal into every detail of the die. They take far longer to strike and require a skilled craftsman to manage the process.

The Royal Mint puts a huge amount of skill, craftsmanship and experience into every coin we produce. The coins we make are prized by collectors of all types, from those who collect the change in their pockets, to those who collect precious metal Proof coins that represent the pinnacle of the minter’s art.

Have your say

Have you ever seen a Proof coin ‘in the metal’? Let us know what you think of the difference between Proof and other coins in the comments below.

Want to know more about what makes Proof coins different – read our article on The Royal Mint website

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  • Preparation of a proof striking usually the dies being polished. They can usually be distinguished from normal circulation coins by their sharper design and the crispness of the rims, as well as much smoother “fields” – the blank areas not part of the coin’s design. These coins typically receive a double strike in order to bring out the luster of the coins design. I worked at the San Francisco mint during the Bicentennial years (1975-1976). We would bring the engraved dies over to a chrome shop and there they would be dipped in chemicals to create the frost of the design. They were returned to the Mint to polish the non-design portions of the coins. We would then install them into the presses and the polished blanks were put into the press. Double punched then put onto a tray for inspection when the tray was full. Human hands never touch the coins. Gloved hands to grab the outer ridge was the process. Then they were blown with a blast of air to remove any foreign particles, and encapsulated.

    • Thanks Randy, what a great perspective from someone who has been involved in the process!

  • Stephanie Swift

    I’m always curious what ‘striking’ a coin actually entails. Is there a forceful blow administered to the coin?

    • Hi Stephanie, that’s actually a great question. We use two
      striking methods. One uses a forceful ‘impact’ strike and is commonly used for circulating coins which need to be produced quickly. The other method ‘squeezes’ the metal into the die using applied pressure and is used for collector coins where we want to preserve as much of the detail in the design as possible.