[The Gruffalo - reblogged from thebookpeople.co.uk]
Seven hundred and fifty previously unreleased coins have begun going into circulation and these are destined to be extremely sought-after by collectors. The Gruffalo (first design) is being distributed by The Great British Coin Hunt with the help of fifty volunteers scattered across the country.
But what exactly is this all about?
And why are so many people so excited about it all?
Well, TGBCH (The Great British Coin Hunt) have taken it upon themselves to make a stand against the way in which many of our modern commemorative coins are released (fifty pences and two pound coins in particular). For the past few years, the majority of new releases have only been available as purchasable items – rather than being put out into general circulation. Ian Lambert, owner of the company sees this as being completely wrong.
‘Half the fun of coin collecting is finding coins in your everyday change. Either that or swapping your finds with fellow collectors’ He explained. ‘Because The Royal Mint have held back so many of their new coins as ‘purchase only items’ they have effectively taken the fun out of the whole thing. And for parents who are having to buy these new coins for their kids; it soon becomes a very expensive hobby.’
It would seem that Mr Lambert has a very valid point and a great many numismatists are in full agreement with him. Going on facts alone, there have now been seventeen new fifty pences this year which have not gone into general circulation. That is a cost of £170 per collector when they are having to buy directly from The Royal Mint.
Another popular denomination amongst collectors is the two pound coin. The Royal Mint have not put ANY of these into general circulation since 2016, stating there are enough in use already. However, they have still continued to release commemorative two pound coins… and these too have been ‘purchase only’ items. Once you are made aware of these facts, it is not difficult to see why Ian Lambert has gained so much support in his crusade.
The purpose of putting seven hundred and fifty Gruffalo fifty pences into circulation is to give collectors a chance of actually finding one in their everyday change. Admittedly this is a very small chance but it is better than no chance at all. And if anyone has any doubts that they have actually found one of these coins, they have all been stamped with either a T, G, B, C or H. A nice little touch.
‘When we did this a month ago with the 2019 Peter Rabbit fifty pences everyone absolutely loved it. And all of our volunteers got a real buzz just from taking part. It made them feel empowered, that they were part of a defining point in coin collecting history. Which they actually were. I mean, no-one has ever done this before with coins that were never designed to be used. There is also a very real chance they have helped to change things for the better.’
You don’t need to be a coin collector to admire Mr Lambert for his ingenuity, his desire for justice and….. his downright gall. Over the weeks ahead we will no doubt hear many stories from all across the country of people putting these coins into circulation. Just how long it will be before any are found and how much they end up being worth to collectors still remains to be seen. However, it will certainly be interesting to see.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019