[The Dollar is Mounting.... - image by Mik]
‘Daddy, why can’t we find any of the new fifty pences?’
‘Mummy, where are all of the Gruffalo coins???’
Familiar questions for thousands of parents all across the country right now. Children don’t understand the inner workings of business and they shouldn’t have to. And why must parents be put in this awkward position in the first place? Sure, kids can have all of these new releases…. as long as mummy and daddy can afford to keep spending £10 on The Royal Mint site every time a new one comes out - oh, and that’s ‘plus postage’ if an order is below £45…..
Over the last few years, The Royal Mint have taken it upon themselves to release virtually any new coin in a ‘purchase only’ format. And this applies to both fifty pences and two pound coins. To put it in a nutshell, a lot of the public aren’t best pleased. It would appear that we have entered into a New (Mint) Age of coin collecting where all emphasis is placed on maximum profit. Many people see this as both unfair and downright greedy. And some individuals, rather than just sitting around and bitching about things, are putting their money where their mouth is.
A few weeks ago, Ian Lambert of The Great British Coin Hunt decided that enough was enough. He was well aware of the situation with non-circulating coins and took it upon himself to do something about it. Direct action with a very direct approach. By ‘releasing’ four hundred of The Mint’s ‘purchase only’ fifty pences himself he not only made coin collecting history, he also gave everyone a chance of finding one in their change. Ian has also vowed to do the same thing with other ‘purchase only’ coins until things change. But isn’t this precisely how it should have been in the first place? After all, looking for coins in your change is half the fun of being a collector, even more so if you are a child.
Whilst some people were a perhaps a little surprised by Mr Lambert’s idea initially, the simple truth is he is merely trying to put things right. And his one man crusade was not destined to be a solitary quest for very long either. Within days, he had received hundreds of messages of support. People were tripping over themselves to be a part of it all and some volunteers even added a few extra coins to the cause which they have purchased themselves. This is a pretty good indicator of just how strong public feeling is.
In the months ahead it will be interesting to see which other coins The Great British Coin Hunt opt to put into circulation. They certainly have plenty of different ones to choose from. Since 2016 there have been sixteen fifty pences and seventeen two pound coins which have only been available if purchased. And, as if that weren’t enough, Ian Lambert also has plans to sue The Royal Mint for unfair business practices. If this does happen then the costs will be funded by his customers - who are promised a very generous reward in return.
This last part sounds a little like David taking on Goliath…… and we all know how that one turned out.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019