The UK has an incredible range of heritage craft skills, from blacksmithing to bagpipe making, and some of the finest craftspeople in the world. But many of these skills are in the hands of individuals who have been unable to pass them on, often due to limited training opportunities and poor financial stability, leaving a number of traditional British crafts under threat.
As Britain’s oldest business and the original maker of UK coins and precious metals, The Royal Mint hopes to utilise its expertise in craftmanship to ensure that precious metal craft skills, such as silversmithing, hand engraving and brass instrument making, are passed on to the next generation of master craftspeople.
In the 2021 edition of the Red List of Endangered Crafts produced by Heritage Crafts, four crafts were classified as extinct, 56 as critically endangered and 74 as endangered. But it’s not all bad news; some crafts, such as gilding, have seen a resurgence thanks to consumers choosing to support small businesses post-pandemic and grants that were distributed to fund endangered crafts.
The four successful applicants of the bursary scheme will benefit from up to £4,000 in funding each, while having the opportunity to learn from The Royal Mint’s master craftspeople, including Gordon Summers, Chief Engraver, and Paul Morgan, Kings Assay Master, to ensure the protection and promotion of British crafts.
Anne Jessopp, CEO of The Royal Mint, said:
“As an exemplar of British craftsmanship, we believe we have a duty to promote, protect and celebrate British craftsmanship, which is why I am extremely proud to announce the launch of the bursary scheme in partnership with Heritage Crafts.
“Our long-term mission is to spearhead the resurgence of precious metals craftmanship in the UK. By doing this we hope to provide more job opportunities for future generations and offer a more sustainable, viable manufacturing alternative to international suppliers – qualities which are increasingly important. As people’s relationship with money is changing, the business has undergone a transformation, but the key elements that make The Royal Mint what is today – its commitment to British craftsmanship and holding precious metals at its core – makes this an ideal partnership with the mission of Heritage Crafts.”
Jay Blades, Co-Chair of Heritage Crafts, said:
“We are so excited to announce the launch of our partnership with The Royal Mint. Their passion for the preservation of British craftmanship aligns so well with the reason we exist in the first place. We believe these bursaries will help provide unique opportunities to precious metals craftspeople that would not have been possible before.”
The Royal Mint’s expertise in precious metals spans over a thousand years. Known as the home of precious metals in the UK, The Royal Mint offer products including gold, silver and platinum commemorative coins, bars for investment, and a digital gold saving option, backed by metal held in their vault. Last year they announced plans to build a factory to recover precious metals from electronic waste, currently active at lab level. Recovered metal is being used to create beautiful jewellery pieces in their latest business venture, 886 by The Royal Mint.
The launch of these bursaries took place at an awards ceremony in the House of Lords today, followed by a speech from Anne Jessopp, CEO of The Royal Mint.