Kew gardens… I know, I know, I know!

I have seen some astronomical figures for the kew gardens 50p coins recently on ebay. As I’m sure you know, this coin has captured the imagination of the public at large and by the prices being asked for (and in some cases received) many other circulating coins of dubious scarcity. I am in two minds about this as I do think it reflects the impression I have gained in day to day life that many hitherto numismatic novices have developed an increased awareness of the hobby but on the other hand I am concerned that some younger enthusiastic newcomers to the hobby will have their fingers figuratively burned by ‘investing’ in some of these supposedly rare and hugely over priced coins. I hope these beginners will perhaps focus on a cheaper and less glamorous collection to start their hobby career such as something simple like a date range of pennies or perhaps even just the dates of cupronickel and plated 5p and 10p coins currently circulating before the royal mint withdraws all the cupronickel 1990s types. My philosophy on coin collecting is that it should be for pleasure, fun, pride and interest. I don’t think it is an investment for most amateurs!

Charles Dickens in B&Q

Yep, the title says it all! I found a Charles Darwin 2012 £2 coin in my change in B&Q yesterday and I must say, its is in spectacular condition – I’m not one for over-grading coins, but it is hard to find a flaw on this one even under magnification. I don’t collect these coins as a primary collection, but can I recommend savouring the beautiful artwork on some of the modern £2 bimetallic coins and slipping them into a little wallet in a drawer.

The pound coin collection has to be the best way to collect an affordable and easily accomplished set of coins. For £30, one can save the whole history (1 per year) and if you want, break it down into very easily spent change! It allows for an addition in the form of collecting the various alternate designs of the latter coins. A very amateur collection for the inquisitive potential coin collector!

Lord Kitchener 2014 coin

Possibly the most striking of the new 2014 collection from the Royal Mint is the £2 coin featuring Field Marshall Lord Kitchener. The design is draws inspiration from the iconic “Lord Kitchener wants You” poster that encouraged huge numbers of Britain’s young men to join the “New Army”.

Lord Kitchener £2 coin reverse

 I, for one, am looking forward to owning one of these dramatic coins!

Possibly the simplest coin collection ever

Here’s an idea for the budding numismatist! Every coin collector must start somewhere and I firmly believe that plucking coins from everyday circulation is the cheapest way to get started. What could be less expensive than picking out the current year’s coins from your wallet and your change? If you decide coin collecting is boring after all (more fool you!) then you can just start using them as you would have anyway.

The obvious choice for the UK coin collecting novice these days are the 2011 olympic 50p coins but how about picking these attractive shiny new coins that have probably only seen 1 or 2 hands in their near virgin life? They are definitely more attractive than your run of the mill ’92 issues and if properly stored should keep their shine for years. A 2013 collection of all  circulating denominations will cost you the grand total of £3.88 – how about that for a cheap hobby? I bet you will be hooked and branching out to other ranges before you know it!

A mini glut

After my moans earlier in the week, I have managed to find a few more 2013 coins in change today. All bar one of them so far have been 10p coins though. This is probably because the 5 and 10p coins are being replaced with nickel plated steel from this year (like the ‘coppers’ were a few years ago). I would venture to suggest that some almost uncirculated 2012 coins in 5pand 10p denominations might be worth the amateur coin collector slipping away for posterity – they aren’t going to be worth a fortune but they are the last of their kind and it’s always nice to keep good examples of such coins.

The mint with no money!

I read an interesting piece on the BBC website this morning where I learnt that ironically, the Royal Mint does not allow its workers to use coins at work! The article is actually a very well written piece of interest for those mint aficionados out there including a rarely allowed tour by video around the workings of the mint.

2013 UK coins

I have to say that I am starting to wonder where all the 2013 coins have got to! I am frustrated and embarrassed in equal measures that I have only found ONE 10p coin from the new years issue!

I must admit that in recent weeks, I have been very busy outside of my numismatic world and my change checking habits have been left wanting but I don’t understand why there are so few around this year. Does anyone know? I have not seen any of the attractive London Underground £2 coins or the stylish pound coins released in January up here yet. Has anyone found more luck down south or, has the number of coins released just been woeful this year?


Everything out there tell the new coin collector what to collect, how to store it, where to find information on coins and how to look at them.

What everyone forgets to say is: ENJOY YOUR HOBBY!

Today I spent the day looking at fantastic coins like the last ever Queen Ann guinea produced in Edinburgh and a spectacular example of the George II Lima bust guinea at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Taking in the beauty of these coins thoroughly re-invigorated me to look out for my own little pieces of numismatic history. Obviously, I will never own such incredible and historic coins as these but to own your own little lower grade lower value coin of a similar era can provide a great thrill – you can reach out and touch it anytime you want! I’m not sure the curators in Edinburgh would be too pleased if you tried to touch these coins….!

A new numismatist?

I am pleased to discover that the Olympic 50p collection is more sought after among the general public than I realised. Over the past 2 weeks, 2 friends have told me they are collecting them too! One of them has never collected coins before in their life but has taken a keen interest in these coins. I really think they are an excellent way for the amateur numismatist to expand their collection as it is unlikely we we will ever see such a diverse collection so easily amassed in British coinage (at least from general circulation) again. It is great fun swapping the duplicates you have with friends and colleagues who have duplicates of ones you need!

On a frustrating note, I must admit that this coin-virgin has a more complete collection of them than I do!

Boring euros and the ‘E’ word

Well, my opinion on the Euro currency coins hasn’t changed – what a dull bunch!
On the plus side, I did find my first 2013 coin on my return from holiday: a shiny new 10p coin. It really has taken a while this year to see them circulating but hopefully it will be the first in a flurry of new year coins in my change.

I also tried electrolysis on some of my very low grade Victoria and George V pennies. I would never advise anyone does this on coins which are worth anything nor that anyone who does not fully understand the reaction taking place and dangers involved attempts it but it does seem to work! I realise there will be collectors out there pulling their hair out at the roots at my very mention of the ‘E’ word but I like the effect it had on the low value coins I subjected to it.
[Edit Dec 2016: I would never do this now and I implore you not to either – it will ruin the coins!]