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Kiss your money good-bye

It appears that the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II should be removed from British collector coins sold by the Royal Mint directly to hobbyists and replaced with that of the Joker, a Batman arch-villain.

Buyers will find that the joke is on them if they try to get face value for the coins from their local bank.

The Daily Mail, a popular British tabloid reported yesterday that the Royal Mint is advising banks not to accept for face value the 20, 50 and 100-pound commemorative coins it has issued.

The Royal Mint will not take the coins back except during a 14-day return period after they have been initially purchased.

After that, buyers are stuck.

The Royal Mint helpfully suggests taking them to a “reputable coin trading agent.”

This, of course, makes a mockery of references to legal tender.

Actually, without legal tender, they are not coins at all.

Can they even be considered tokens when no one is obliged to accept them?

I don’t think so.

The new design of Britannia seen from behind on a 2015 50-pound might have a new motto put on it that asks the viewer to kiss something.

While the Royal Mint should honor the face value of all its coins, or lose its credibility as a mint, there is a problem that has been created by its recent decision to sell high face value coins for face value to collectors.

One enterprising individual was happily ordering huge amounts of coins to earn airline points on his credit card and then turning them over to a bank.

Then the bank said sorry.

The individual is stuck with 29,300 pounds sterling’ worth of coins, or just over $42,000 at the current rate of exchange of $1.4353 to the pound.

The Daily Mail helpfully points out that a coin with a face value of 100 pounds has only 19 pounds’ worth of silver in it, for a loss of more than 80 percent to someone who is stuck with one.

Perhaps for damage control the Royal Mint can consult the Royal Canadian Mint to learn how it handled a similar problem stemming from its high value Olympic coins issued for the 1976 Games in Montreal.

A redemption fund now helpfully backs Canadian collector issues.

Otherwise, the Royal Mint’s reputation with collectors will fall to the level of the Marshall Islands.

Buzz blogger Dave Harper has twice won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog and is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

• If you enjoy reading about what inspires coin designs, you’ll want to check out Fascinating Facts, Mysteries & Myths about U.S. Coins

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