Bunhill: Missing coins

Patrick Hosking
Saturday 07 August 1993 23:02

A conundrum has been exercising minds at the Royal Mint. It has been withdrawing the old 10p piece, which ceased to be legal tender in June. So far, 1,150 million of the florin-sized coins have been gathered in. But that leaves 300 million still unaccounted for.

Albert Morris, who runs a washing machine repair shop in Nelson, Lancashire, knows where many of the coins are: 'Inside the tubs of automatic washing machines. People leave them in pockets. Children feed them into the soap drawer.' They end up at the bottom of the drum, lodged under the zigzag heater element.

The average machine contains about pounds 1 of loose change. Some have as many as 35 coins in them. Only when they go in for repair is the money found. At Mr Morris's workshop, a stack of old Fray Bentos steak and kidney pie tins, all brimming with coins, is vivid testimony to his theory.

Untold wealth lies battered, bleached, corroded and unspent in the nation's 19.5 million washing machines. Is this what they mean by money laundering?

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