The number of people visiting Great Britain’s Royal Mint in Llantrisant, Wales, appears to be increasing, not because more tourists are interested in how United Kingdom coins are minted but because they hope to acquire what they speculate could become a rare coin.
A visit to the mint costs £13 (about $18 U.S.). For an additional £5 (about $7 U.S.) a visitor can strike his own 2018 Sir Isaac Newton 50-pence coin. Newton 50-pence coins were released into circulation dated 2017; however, the 2018-dated examples can only be acquired by visiting the BRM in person.
According to a Jan. 27 posting on the WalesOnLine.co.uk web site, “There have been reports of some visitors skipping the tour and heading straight to the part where you strike your own coin. Some have gone so far as offering to pay other people to go and are willing to cover the costs of their entry fee, travel and dinner.”
This is because some of the 2018 coins have been sold on eBay for more than £60 (about $84 U.S.)!
The Cardiff Freeads Facebook group includes Jordan Everson’s statement, “I’m willing to pay for someone to have a free day out visiting the Royal Mint. Unfortunately I’m hundreds of miles away and would love a Strike Your Own Newton so I’m willing to pay for someone’s day out there (travel and dinner included) just in return I ask for you to send me the strike it yourself coin.”
The mechanism by which this novel coin is being offered is called The Royal Mint Experience. Visitors are limited to striking a single coin.
According to a BRM spokeswoman, “We have seen visitor numbers for The Royal Mint Experience grow considerably since the visitor attraction first opened in May 2016, and have welcomed over 150,000 visitors through its doors in that time. The ‘strike your own coin’ activity has been a popular feature since The Royal Mint Experience first opened, with the design changing periodically.”
The spokeswoman continued, “This 2018 coin is legal tender, but it is a commemorative coin – that is, the finish and strike of the design is superior to that of the 50-pence coins that we would spend in exchange for goods and services.”
The premium value for the 2018 Isaac Newton 50-pence coins is purely speculative. While this is a relatively new offering by the BRM, other mints have made provisions for special coins only available to visitors in the past. The Royal Australian Mint began offering visitors special coins beginning in 1993, when the Landcare dollar became available with a special “C” mintmark for Canberra, exclusively struck by visitors at the mint. The same coin later became available with an “M” mintmark to those attending the Royal Melbourne Show and at the Sydney Royal Easter Show with a special “S” mintmark. The RAM charges $3 to strike each coin. These special issues continue annually.
During the 19th century, U.S. Mint visitors (including renowned coin collector Joseph Jacob Mickley) could purchase proof coins at that facility that were unavailable through any other sources.
While the coins are no different than those available in U.S. mint sets, the Philadelphia and the Denver Mint facilities offered specially packaged Souvenir Coin sets only sold to visitors during 1982 and 1983.
Russian and Soviet novodel coins have been offered for centuries to persons who visit the mints in Moscow and St. Petersburg. A novodel is a restrike of a previous coin issue that is produced using the original dies. These official restrikes are often of higher quality than are the originals. Many of these novodels command significant premiums, as most of the known originals are not available to collectors since they are in museum collections.
This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.
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