The Royal Mint launched their very limited 2008 UK Silver Proof Piedfort Four-Coin Collection for £249.95 (~$490 USD). Piedfort coins are unique with their contrasting double weight and thickness. The name ‘Piedfort’ (Pee-ay-fore) actually comes from the French word meaning "heavy measure."
The four coin silver proof collection includes the £1 coin bearing a fresh rendition of the Royal Arms, and this year’s three commemorative coins:
- £5 pieces honouring the 450th anniversary of the accession of Queen Elizabeth I
- £5 pieces honouring the 60th birthday of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and
- the bi-colour £2 coin marking the centenary of the Olympic Games held in London in 1908
According to the Royal Mint, Piedforts are closely associated with France where they can be traced back to the twelfth century. In England the striking of such pieces began later and was less frequent but medieval examples are known, notably the thick silver pennies of Edward I.
The Mint states:
Minting was not a centralised activity in England in the Middle Ages, coins being struck in other locations as well as London. It therefore seems likely that Piedforts were distributed to engravers at these different mints in order to show them what to copy. Making the pieces deliberately thick and heavy ensured they were not mixed unintentionally with ordinary coins.
The Piedfort sytle later became a sort of prestige set. Also according to The Royal Mint,
Thicker than normal coins were produced across Europe during the early modern period, particularly from the mid-sixteenth to the mid-seventeenth century, as part of the broader practice of striking prestige pieces.
At this time the exchange of valuable gifts between rulers and members of their entourage became an established courtly exercise.
Within this context coins struck on thick blanks, together with other types of prestige pieces, were prepared on behalf of kings and noblemen primarily for the purposes of presentation and display.
From Poland to the Spanish Netherlands, from Sweden to northern Italy, coins of this sort provided rulers with a convenien
Coin specifications, mintage limits, price and ordering
The coins within the 2008 UK Silver Proof Piedfort Collection are in proof quality, and made from sterling silver. The bi-colour £2 commemorative of the centenary of the Olympic Games has a .999 fine coat or plate of gold along the outer ring.
A 3,000 mintage limit is in place with each set priced at £249.95.
The collections may be ordered online through the Royal Mint product page:
Customers may also place orders by calling the Royal Mint directly at 0845 60 88 222.
About the Royal Mint
The Royal Mint is a department of government and its primary responsibility remains the provision of the United Kingdom coinage. Its reputation, however, extends beyond this and internationally it has a reputation for making some fascinating coins for over 100 countries.
The history of the Royal Mint itself stretches back over 1100 years. There is an unbroken link from the scattered workshops of the moneyers of Anglo-Saxon London to a single mint within the Tower of London, from a purpose-built premises at Tower Hill to the huge modern coining plant in South Wales.
In April 1975 the Mint was established as a Government Trading Fund, operationally very similar to a government-owned company.