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Time to copy a British coin idea?

American coin collectors have offered many creative suggestions to the U.S. Mint to generate new interest.

I recall several readers have suggested over the years that the Mint deliberately strike a rarity and put it into circulation for someone to find down the road.

It would be nice to get the general public to scan their change.

That is one way new collectors are born.

The America the Beautiful quarter series and the state program before it were supposed to get the public to look at their change.

Greater variety worked for a while.

But neither series has coins in it that are scarce, let alone rare.

It is the combination of variety and occasional rarity that would turbocharge circulation finds.

The British Royal Mint is doing something that will test this numismatic hypothesis.

It will issue this year 26 circulating 10-pence coin designs to highlight aspects of British life in alphabetical order.

The letter “C,” naturally enough, features cricket, the national game.

You can go on down the alphabet and imagine what might be depicted.

Interestingly enough, the World Wide Web is celebrated as British with the letter “W.”

Who knew?

I thought Al Gore invented the Internet.

Obivously, 26 designs are the variety.

It takes the United States nearly six years to issue this many different quarter designs.

Then the rarity aspect is handled this way.

The British are striking only 100,000 of each design for circulation.

That makes 2.6 million pieces total.

Sure, the country has a smaller population than the United States.

Its 65 million people make about 20 percent of the U.S. population.

The equivalent number for a U.S. quarter would be 500,000.

Will this work in Britain?

It will be interesting to watch it unfold.

Could America benefit and adopt the idea?

Stranger things have happened.

The state quarter program was taken from Canada’s 1992 25-cent piece program honoring the provinces and territories.

Will that mean the United States will decide to copy Britain in seven years’ time?

That would be 2025.

There are worse things we can hope for.

Below is the full list of British themes:

A – Angel of the North

B – Bond… James Bond

C – Cricket

D – Double-decker bus

E – English breakfast

F – Fish and chips

G – Greenwich mean time

H – Houses of Parliament

I – Ice cream cone

J – Jubilee

K – King Arthur

L – Loch Ness Monster

M – Mackintosh

N – National Health Service

O – Oak tree

P – Post box

Q – Queuing

R – Robin

S – Stonehenge

T – Tea pot

U – Union flag

V – Village

W – World Wide Web

X – X marks the spot

Y – Yeoman

Z – Zebra crossing

Buzz blogger Dave Harper won the Numismatic Literary Guild Award for Best Blog for the third time in 2017 . He is editor of the weekly newspaper “Numismatic News.”

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One Response to Time to copy a British coin idea?

  1. Vachon says:

    I’m personally not a fan of these gimmicks. These particular issues will be quickly plucked from circulation and that will be that. I think of when a rare cent like a 1914-D or 1909-S VDB is placed into circulation but it’s done so with fanfare instead of secrecy leaving me unable to imagine the cashier the coin was paid to simply scooped it up.

    A compromise for the British idea I think would be to strike the 26 designs for two weeks only and based on need for circulation. It would create the *potential* for rarity as some designs may end up struck in numbers small enough to not even exhaust a single die whereas others could potentially go through a dozen or more.

    As for the secret drop offs, I would think if anyone is serious about doing so they should seed these rare cents into CoinStars around the country before announcing that it had been done to give the coins a chance to be wrapped and redistributed for a real lottery-like chance of finding such a coin.

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