U.K. Coinmaker With Gruesome Tradition Finally Has a Female Boss

(Bloomberg) -- The Royal Mint, the government-owned maker of the U.K.’s coins, appointed Anne Jessopp as its first female leader in its 1,100-year history -- and in doing so put the spotlight on a rather grisly ritual.

As chief executive, Jessopp, will oversee the introduction of a new 50-pence coin, though her first ceremonial duty is the annual Trial of the Pyx, which first held in 1282 and hasn’t changed since before the reign of King Henry VIII.

At Goldsmith’s Hall in London, the weight, size and quality of coins produced by the mint will be tested by a jury dressed in red. If the coins fail, the Chancellor of the Exchequer -- the ceremonial Master of the Mint and Jessopp’s new boss -- risks losing a hand as punishment.

But thankfully for Philip Hammond, the current Chancellor, the Royal Mint said the bloody fate that befell 94 Minters hasn’t happened for hundreds of years.

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