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NZ ‘Ring’ coins to be examined in London tomorrow

NZ ‘Ring’ coins to be examined in London tomorrow

New Zealand Lord of the Ring coins will be specially examined, by request of the Reserve Bank, in the ancient Trial of the Pyx at Goldsmiths’ Hall in London tomorrow night (NZtime).

The Trial of the Pyx (Latin for chest) dates back to the 13th century. There is a record of a trial at Goldsmiths’ Hall in 1248, where before the Barons of the Exchequer a jury of “twelve discreet and lawful citizens of London and twelve skilful Goldsmiths of the same place” tested coinage against standard samples of gold and silver known as trial plates.

In 2004 the principle remains the same although modern scientific methods are now used.

Among the New Zealand coins represented in this year’s Trial of the Pyx are coins commissioned by the New Zealand Post from the Royal Mint to celebrate the filming of the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings films which were shot on location in New Zealand.

These official commemorative coins include the $10 gold One True Ring and the $1 silver One True Ring.

The trial of the sample coins, presided over by the Queen’s Remembrancer, the senior Judge at the Royal Courts of Justice, fulfils a requirement imposed by an Act of Parliament to conduct an examination by jury to ascertain that the coins produced by the Royal Mint are of the correct weight, size and composition.

As such this ancient ceremony has direct relevance to every user of UK coinage today.

Examples of all coins produced by the Royal Mint during 2003 will be tested, and by request of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand samples of New Zealand coinage will be tested as well.

A ceremony steeped in tradition, the Trial of the Pyx requires the Queen’s Remembrancer, Master Turner, to be in full court dress complete with tricorn hat. He presides over the jury, comprising Wardens of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, equally resplendent in their robes of office, the Head of the London Assay Office and a selection of the Company’s liverymen.

The trial comprises three separate phases. The first phase takes place on February 10, when some 88,000 coins are counted and weighed. The second phase takes place over the subsequent eight weeks, during which time the selected coins are assayed (tested for correct metallic composition) and measured by members of the Assay Office, using the standard Trial Plates, provided by the National Weights and Measures Laboratory of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The third and final phase is the Delivery of the Verdicts, when the Court reconvenes at Goldsmiths’ Hall on April 30 and the jury delivers its verdicts to the Queen’s Remembrancer in the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, as Master of the Mint, or his representative.

Copyright 2004 Word Of Mouth Media NZ

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