The Rabbit and the Gruffalo
[ The First Circulated Gruffalo to be Found ]
Earlier this year The Great British Coin Hunt began putting unreleased coins into general circulation. Initially they integrated four hundred Peter Rabbit 2019 coins with our everyday change. They then went on to do the same thing with seven-hundred and fifty Gruffalo fifty pences.
For the next few weeks, things then went quiet without any further developments. Until the beginning of December that is…. It was then that Thomas Louis became the first person to come across a circulated 2019 Peter Rabbit whilst doing his weekly bank run.
It didn’t take long before another coin collector happened upon a Gruffalo (first design) whilst foraging in bank bags. On 20th December they proudly posted a picture of this in a chat room on Discord. Not only has this generated a fair bit of excitement in the coin community, it has also reminded people it is quite possible to find one of these rare coins; irrespective of how few there are in general circulation.
These coins have clearly done their rounds with banks or cash centres and are now beginning to crop up where we least expect it. But this is precisely what The Great British Coin Hunt (TGBCH) intended all along with their audacious publicity stunts – they wanted to give collectors a proper chance of finding coins like these in their change. After all, until they began releasing these two fifty pences, the only option a collector would have would be purchasing them from The Royal Mint at ten pounds each.
Ian Lambert of TGBCH has said repeatedly that he totally disagrees with The Royal Mint holding back so many of their new releases as ‘purchase only’ items. ‘It takes away the fun and turns the whole business of making commemorative coins into a farce. Only a few years ago numismatists would be able to look for these designs in their change without having to spend ludicrous amounts of money online. Which is precisely why I decided to try and do something about it.’
Just how much impact (if any) the antics of TGBCH have on the business practices of The Royal Mint remains to be seen. However, one thing is for certain, many more of these elusive coins will be turning up for some time to come – months or possibly even years.
© Article and images (except where stated) copyright Mik Smith 2019