The weight, diameter and composition of UK coins are tested annually during the Trial of the Pyx. Performed by the Goldsmiths Company of the City of London, the Trial is based on an ancient ceremony first performed in 1282.
During the 19th century, colonial branches of the Royal Mint were founded in Australia, initially in Sydney and Melbourne. For some reason, by the time The Perth Mint opened in 1899, the Trial had seldom been applied to coins made in Australia.
So when it was announced that the new branch was to have its coins assessed , everyone was interested in the results.
Coins, which in 1900 meant sovereigns, were set aside from each batch received from the coining department. They were then placed in a Pyx Chest and sent to London for the Trial presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, traditionally an officer responsible for debts due to the sovereign, but by then an officer of the Court of the Exchequer.
The verdict was delivered by a jury of skilled goldsmiths after 180 Perth Mint sovereigns had been chosen at random to be measured and assayed.
“Of the Perth coins tested at the Trial of the Pyx, the one showing the greatest divergence was only four-ten-thousandth parts above standard as against the variation of 20-ten-thousandths allowed by law. One coin was exactly standard. The result is that the Trial is highly satisfactory both as regards weight and fineness, and shows the efficiency and competency of my staff, especially taking into consideration that for some time after the commencement of operation they were hampered by many difficulties.” – John Francis Campbell, Deputy Mint Master, Perth Branch (August 1900).
Sovereigns were made in Perth until 1931 and hardly surprisingly they remain popular with many gold coin collectors. At the time of writing there are two sets of historic Perth Mint sovereigns in stock on our website: