[Photography by Svetta]
Since the first batch of Beatrix Potter fifty pences appeared, coin collecting has suddenly become incredibly appealing to thousands of people across the country. A hobby once reserved for only a handful of individuals (relatively speaking) has now become a commonplace activity. And there are two main reasons for this which are very much connected –
Reason Number One: Hard Times
At the time of writing, the cost of living is high and families everywhere in Britain are feeling the pinch. As a direct consequence of this, a lot of people are desperately trying to come up with new and clever ways of making themselves a few extra quid. So when selling unwanted items at car boot sales or on eBay fails to deliver they may well end up trying their hand at coin trading instead.
The long and the short of it is that people are seriously striving to find fresh ways of keeping the wolf from the door. Which brings us onto our second reason…..
Reason Number Two: The Media
Virtually every newspaper you pick up right now will have a feature in it about coin collecting. The most common of these will be along the lines of ‘Have you got a fortune in your pocket?’, ‘Which are the most valuable 50p’s?’ or ‘What to look out for in your loose change’. Of course, whilst any self-respecting numismatist will know that only a handful of ultra-rare coins are actually worth their weight in gold, the average guy on the street will be blissfully unaware of this fact. As far as Joe Public knows (because of being drip-fed misinformation by the Press) there are oodles of coins sitting around that will make him a millionaire overnight. But once you see just how many stories there are in the tabloids about window cleaners finding magic coins in their tips bucket this should come as no great surprise.
Of course, whilst both the high cost of modern life and the hollow promises of the media have helped to create a whole new generation of Arthur Daley’s, it has also brought about a renewed interest in a very old and respected pastime. So, whilst there is an inarguable downside to all of this, it is still worth remembering that every cloud has a silver (proof) lining.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019