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Royal Mint considers authentication

No one wants to write their own obituary, but when a government-owned mint considers offering collector values for coins it certainly appears that any of us, including myself, who publish coin values could find our careers in jeopardy. The British Royal Mint is considering a bold step – valuing coins for collectors!

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Readers need to understand that the author is one of many people who offer published values for coins. Published values for coins are based on known transactions gathered from a number of reliable sources. How would collectors view it if the U.S. Mint decided to follow the BRM example, offering their view of retail values for U.S. coins? Couldn’t the Mint as a manufacturer have a prejudice towards supporting it’s own current products? In the past, 1933 $20 double eagle coins submitted to the U.S. Mint for authentication purposes were seized.

The BRM has to date not seized any coins that it has examined.

So far the BRM has exclusively offered its opinion of the authenticity of coins it has examined, not the value of what has been examined. This authentication has been limited to addressing recently produced error coins. The most recently publicized error coin declared to be genuine by the BRM is an example of the Standing on the Shoulders of Giants £2 issued for general circulation.

British ringed bimetal £2 coins introduced in 1997 are composed of an outer ring of yellow-color copper-nickel-zinc. The center is composed of steel-color copper-nickel. The coin has a weight of 12 grams and an outer diameter of 28.4 millimeters.

The reverse design traces technological development representing the Iron Age, Industrial Revolution, Computer Age and Internet in four concentric circles. The edge inscription “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” is a quote from 1699 to 1727 Master of the Royal Mint Sir Isaac Newton.

According to the July 31 The Sun newspaper, the £2 coin the mint examined was determined: “has not been pierced, which essentially means it has only been stamped on nickel brass. It is missing the inner copper-nickel disc, made from 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel.”

A spokesman for GoCompare’s Coining It In was quoted in The Sun article as saying, “We have only come across four or five similar coins, none of which have been £2 coins. There are very few coins to compare it with but as the coin has been authenticated by the Royal Mint it this makes this coin particularly interesting to collectors or error coin enthusiasts.”

The newspaper article continues, “Fortunately, the [British] Royal Mint might soon be able to tell you how valuable your coins are as the government-owned coin maker recently announced it is considering offering valuations as part of its future strategy to grow in the collecting market.”

Currently the mint is unable to value a coin, while it does offer to confirm if a coin is genuine or not. The mint sends a letter confirming its opinion.

The mint sent an authentication letter to the collector who submitted the error £2 coin for examination. In the letter it reads: “What therefore looks to have happened is that an unpierced blank has somehow been struck between two pound dies.”

The question to be asked is how a mint as a manufacturing facility will be able to provide collectors with a reliable value for something that mint produced. Mints act as a coin dealer when selling their own current products, but mints do not act as a dealer selling older coins or those on which a mistake has been made. It is appreciated that the BRM is looking towards the interests of collectors in the secondary market, but there is danger in getting into the business of valuing coins without being actively participating in that secondary market.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• The Standard Catalog of World Coins, 1901-2000 is your guide to images, prices and information on coinage of the 1900s.

• Is that coin in your hand the real deal or a clever fake? Discover the difference with U.S. Coins Close Up, a one-of-a-kind visual guide to every U.S. coin type.