In his role as Master of the Mint, the Chancellor attended the verdict of the ‘Trial of the Pyx’, one of the longest established judicial procedures in the country.
Dating back to the Twelfth century, the ‘Trial of the Pyx’ is an annual ceremony to check that newly minted coins are within the legal limits for metallic composition, weight and size.
All of the coins submitted for testing at the trial were confirmed as within their legal limit.
The coin’s metal content is tested against a benchmark, called a Trial Plate. These metal plates of gold, silver, platinum and cupro-nickel, are the responsibility of the National Measurement Office along with the weights against which the coins are measured.
Goldsmith’s Hall is the established venue for the trial, and the jury is normally made up of leaders from the financial world, charged with counting and weighing a selected number of the new coins.
It is then the job of at least 6 expert assayers from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths’ Assay Office to test the coins and deliver the verdict, as to whether or not they meet the required standard.
There has to be a trial at least once a year, as required by the Coinage Act 1971. This year the trial began on 6 February.
The verdict is attended by the Chancellor or his representative and presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer. It usually takes place some two months after the beginning of the trial, once the coins have been verified.
Photo copyright The Royal Mint