At London’s Royal Academy of Art, the Royal Mint has revealed gold and silver coins weighing a staggering kilogram each in celebration of the upcoming London 2012 Olympics. Designed by renowned sculptor Sir Anthony Caro, only 60 of the gold kilo coins will be minted with a denomination of £1,000. The silver coin has been designed by artist, composer and writer Tom Phillips, with 2,012 of them to be produced and with a denomination of £500. This makes them the highest UK denomination coins ever to be minted.
The obverse of both coins exhibit the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by sculptor Ian Rank-Broadley that has featured on UK and Commonwealth coinage since 1998. Such is the size of the gold kilo coin, ten centimetres across, that the Royal Mint had to introduce a special press and production technique in order to achieve the highest ever relief on a coin that they have struck.
Incredibly, this was not the biggest hurdle that had to be overcome in order for these coins to be produced. As we first reported back in February, so that the coins could become legal tender with denominations of £1,000 and £500, new legislation had to be put in place through both Houses of Parliament and then receive Royal Assent before production could go ahead. Previously, the highest legal tender denomination of coin in the United Kingdom was held by the 1oz Gold Britannia at £100. With such endeavours required in the realisation of these coins, the numismatic premium attached to them could hardly be higher.