The ancient tradition of the Trial of the Pyx takes place today in London. Every year since 1282AD, the King or Queen’s Remembrancer and a jury of financial leaders and expert assayers have sat to examine the Kingdom’s coinage from The Royal Mint to ensure it conforms to the correct specifications.
Previously held in Westminster Hall and then the Exchequer, the trial now takes place at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, with the procedures having changed little since the reign of Henry III.
Coins are randomly selected throughout the year from every batch of each denomination struck, then sealed in bags that contain 50 coins each. They are then locked in Pyx chests ready for testing. The Pyx chests obtained their name from the Pyx chamber in Westminster Abbey, where historically the chests were kept.
To ensure that the coins are within the statutory limits for size, weight and metallic composition, they are benchmarked against ‘trial plates’ made up of pure gold, silver, platinum, copper, nickel and zinc.
It is reassuring then that this ancient and well honed trial still takes places each year under Crown supervision, so that we can all be confident that the United Kingdom’s coinage, precious metal or not, is exactly as it claims to be.