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British Mint Issues Scarce Coins

(Image courtesy of the Royal Mint blog)

(Image courtesy of the Royal Mint blog)

In a recent interview with The CDN Monthly Greysheeet US Mint Director David J. Ryder said, “I have to create products they [young collectors] can actually collect at a reasonable price and put in their pockets.”

Perhaps so, but any proposals for new coins need to be approved by Congress prior to commencing production. Furthermore, Ryder said “at a reasonable price and put in their pockets.” This is where the coin market in the United States and in Great Britain part ways. US coin collectors and dealers recently participated in the Great American Coin Hunt, where older collectible coins were voluntarily placed into circulation in hopes non-collectors would find them, then become motivated to participate in the hobby.

The US Mint is handicapped in that it can produce flashy non-circulating legal tender commemoratives and if Congress allows it the mint can also produce circulation strike commems as well. The NCLT coins are only available by purchase. The circulation strike commemoratives may be in pocket change but they are only worth their face value.

The mint has limited control over the number of coins issued for circulation, ensuring only such errors as the 2019 Floating Head Lincoln cent and the 2004 Extra Leaf Wisconsin quarters may be the only coins in circulation that might catch the attention of the otherwise non-interested general public.

This is not the case with some of the recent issues being produced by the British Royal Mint. You don’t have to go any further than the June 9 headlines in The Sun tabloid newspaper, which screams: “Check your change!” followed by the statement, “Eight rarest and most valuable coins you can spot in your change worth up to £302.”

Is this a dramatic statement? Yes! True—absolutely. The 2009 Kew Gardens 50-pence coin, as an example is selling for more than 200 times its face value on eBay. The mintage of this circulating commemorative is 210,000 pieces.

Likely the best find still available through over the counter transactions is the 1992-1993 European Council 50 pence, with a mintage of 109,000 pieces. The coin was issued to commemorate Britain holding the council presidency, which incidentally is a current rather than a historic event. The public might be able to identify more often with current rather than past events appearing on coins.

In a 2016 article The Sun reported, “If you have one of the EC commemorative 50-pence coins knocking around you could make as much as £30.” Other newspapers published similar comments. The coin was reported as selling for twice that figure recently on eBay. One eBay merchant remarked the mintage is “just 1.5 percent of the mintage of the recent 2013 [Christopher] Ironside [Royal Arms] 50-pence [coin]” which still sells for a modest premium online.

Among other things, the US coin market could use a few newspapers that are accommodating as are those in England, but it is the number of low mintage coin types being issued into circulation by the BRM that is helping fuel the fires of new collector interest in the United Kingdom.

The BRM has been accommodating, whether intentional or not. The 2017 Isaac Newton 50 pence had an initial mintage of 375 coins, all of which were put into circulation in Lincolnshire. More coins were released later, the mintage finally becoming 1.8 million pieces. By the time the additional coins were released the mint had the attention of the general public. recently reported the coin selling for £40.50 on eBay.

The 50-pence denomination has no exclusivity on modern British coin rarities. Among the other coins for which to watch should you be in the UK include the 2002 Commonwealth Games NI £2 (485,000 mintage), 2002 Commonwealth Games Wales £2 (588,500 mintage), 2015 Navy £2 (650,000 mintage), 2011 Edinburgh £1 (935,000 mintage), 2011 Cardiff (1.615 million mintage), and the 2010 London £1 (2.635 million mintage). And remember, there are others.