Bunhill: Lots of 'old money'

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The Independent Online
WHICH is the best long-run home for your savings? Equities, gilts, a building society account . . . or an old sock under the bed?

The sum of 32p invested in 1971 in a spread of shares would be worth about pounds 6.99 today after basic-rate tax, according to the number-crunchers at stockbroker BZW. The same amount invested in gilts would be worth pounds 3.95. A building society account would have turned 32p into a measly pounds 1.31.

I rather favour the old sock strategy after observing the success of Westminster Collection, an independent Watford- based mail-order company selling sets of pre-decimalisation coins by advertising in the Sunday supplements. It is offering a half-crown, florin, shilling, sixpence, threepenny bit, penny and halfpenny (total face value, 32p) for no less than pounds 9.95 plus postage and packing.

'Now you can take a trip down memory lane with the original collection of Britain's 'old money',' burbles the advertising, which is a bit cheeky since the florin only ceased to be legal tender four months ago.

Mike Shaw, commercial director, tells me demand was been very good indeed. 'It's all good nostalgic stuff. People want them to show their children.'

The company buys the coins from dealers, who 'laid down' tens of thousands of such sets in 1971. Shaw declines to reveal the wholesale price. Westminster Collection, meanwhile, has grown to a pounds 10m turnover business.