Great Britain is personified as a goddess named Britannia wearing a Corinthian helmet and armed with a shield and a spear. She replaced Albion by the 1st century B.C. According to English diarist and naval administrator Samuel Pepys, Britannia is modeled on the future Duchess of Richmond, Frances Teresa Stuart who was known for denying becoming King Charles II’s mistress.
Britannia’s Depiction on Coinage
Britannia first appeared on British farthing coins in 1672, although her archetype image sitting with a shield is reflected on 1st century AD Roman bronze coins. The allegorical woman then appeared on Britain’s half-penny coin from the 17th century until 1936 and on penny coins issued between 1797 and 1970.
In 1987, the Royal Mint started releasing gold bullion coins featuring Britannia. In 1997, silver bullion coins with her image begin to circulate, and in 2018, the Royal Mint began issuing platinum versions of coins also with her image.
This 2018 Britannia coin with an oriental border pattern inspired by the British Trade Dollar. It is also the 21st release of the Silver Britannia collection. It contains 1 Troy ounce of 99.99.% silver. In addition it features Queen Elizabeth II on one side. The national personification on the other side.
Britannia on Banknotes
From 1855 until 1957, the white fiver banknote features the allegorical figure. It is a five-pound paper bill printed in black and white. In 1928, the Britannia Series A, consisting of ten-shilling and one-pound banknotes, launches into circulation. Furthermore, the 25 cents fractional banknote issued in Canada in 1870, 1900, and 1923 bear her figure.
In 1981, the Bank of England introduced the Series D banknotes featuring Sir Isaac Newton on the reverse. The figure of Britannia reflects on the left of the obverse in addition to a portrait of a young Queen Elizabeth II on the right.