As our coins diminish, Clifford German reports on collectors who look beyond face value
Wednesday 10 September 1997
Last week, the weighty 50p coin first issued back in 1969 began the process of being phased out in favour of an eight-gramme replacement.
A new bi-coloured pounds 2 coin will take the strain off its pounds 1 equivalent on 3 November, although recent reports that a pounds 5 coin would come into circulation next month are apparently based on a misunderstanding.
The new pounds 5 coin will commemorate the Queen's Golden Wedding anniversary and collectors can get it from banks and post offices at face value, but it is not intended for general use.
The new coins already feature in the Royal Mint's annual proof sets of currency coins which are offered each year to the 220,000 members of the Mint Collectors' Club, based in South Wales. Prices vary with the contents but this year's bumper set costs pounds 32.50 including VAT, or pounds 39.50 in de- luxe packaging.
Modern coins are not intended to be investments, but over time they become scarce. Pre-1947 silver coins are worth five times their face value for their metal content alone and uncirculated coins are worth much more to collectors. Even cupro-nickel florins from scarce dates like 1954, 1957 and 1959 retail for pounds 20 to pounds 30 in uncirculated condition.
There is also a secondary market in modern coin sets. Spinks, the antique coin specialists, now has a modern coin department run by Geoff Kitchin, and there are any number of coin dealers, many of them members of the British Numismatic Trade Association, and a special publication, Coin News, to keep collectors informed.
The first issue of coins bearing the head of Queen Elizabeth II and wrapped in a protective plastic sheet but excluding a crown coin sold for 62.5p in 1953 and are now worth pounds 15. Sets including the crown coin then cost about pounds 1 and now retail at pounds 55.
Recent sets can also go to a premium especially in years where the Mint has not issued a complete set of new coins for general circulation, and the uncirculated sets are therefore the only sources of coins to make up complete collections. No 50p coins dated 1974 or 1975 were issued for general circulation, for example, and coins from proof sets are worth pounds 2 uncirculated and pounds 3 to pounds 4 in proof state.
The special issue of 50p coins minted in 1992 to commemorate the EU council of ministers meeting in Edinburgh is also now in demand and will retail at pounds 5.
In some years the Mint has sold up to 170,000 sets of uncirculated coins, but only 57,000 of the 1993 set containing coins from 1p to pounds 1 were sold at pounds 6 a set. But those sets are the only source of 5p, 10p or 50p coins for that year and they now sell for pounds 12.
Back in 1994 the Mint sold a set of coins in base metal, silver and gold commemorating the 300th anniversary of the Bank of England. The gold set sold for pounds 265 but soon after they began appearing a collector noticed the pounds 2 coin did not have the value beneath the Queen's head. The Mint tried to recall them but not everyone responded and the errors are now worth pounds 400.
But not all investments pay off. At the top of the gold market in 1980 the Mint sold 10,000 sets of proof gold coins containing a half sovereign, sovereign, pounds 2 and pounds 5 coins to collectors for about pounds 1,200 including VAT. At one point they changed hands at pounds 2,000 but the gold price has more than halved since then.
Nowadays you can buy a set for about pounds 700 and a dealer will take a set off your hands for about pounds 450, which is not much more than the bullion price.
Subsequent issues have been better investments because sales have fallen to about 1,000 sets a year and have held their value, although if you want to sell you would only expect around 60-70 per cent of the retail price.
The difference is swallowed up by VAT, storage and administrative costs and the dealer's profit
The main guide for UK coins from Roman and Celtic times to the present day is Seaby's standard catalogue of UK coins, now in its 33rd edition, which is published this year for the first time by Spinks. It is now available from Spinks's book department - 5 King St, London SW1 - at pounds 15.
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 12:01 AM
The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter
26 February 2015 04:17 PM
Hundreds of thousands of people's policies were hit when the mutual insurer almost collapsed at the turn of the century
27 February 2015 12:01 AM
The Department for Work and Pensions has been slammed after a series of cock-ups left an elderly pensioner £26,000 worse off.
24 February 2015 08:57 AM
A 20-month investigation concluded that a lack of price competition between lenders has led to higher costs for borrowers
23 February 2015 04:02 PM
The Financial Conduct Authority said the industry needs to start thinking about solutions to these challenges
20 February 2015 08:00 PM
In 1999 stock markets quickly tumbled, losing many a fortune in the process
20 February 2015 08:00 PM
13 February 2015 08:00 PM
13 February 2015 08:00 PM
06 February 2015 09:00 PM
06 February 2015 09:00 PM
Fuel poverty could kill 100,000 vulnerable people over the next 15 years, charity warns
Phoenix Life: Chance of a refund for overcharged policyholders has risen
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
Simon Read: That's right, BT, they'd rather pay for a free service
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 Forget 'The Dress': Here are five of the biggest news stories you might have missed
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
- 5 Saudi Muslim cleric claims the Earth is 'stationary' and the sun rotates around it
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
iJobs Money & Business
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...
£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...
£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...
£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads