Have you heard the latest "Coin News"?

September 2003, Volume 40 No. 9
Apparently any 2p piece with the legend “New Pence” on the reverse will fetch at least £400! This is of course wonderful news, I’m rich, so are you, so is anybody with a piggy bank, whisky bottle or jar full of 2p pieces that they have been collecting for years, as I can guarantee that many will have that very legend on them – now all we have to do is find some poor unsuspecting person to buy them; the gentleman who made the claim on one of the BBCs Daytime “Bargain Hunt” style programmes maybe? That particular gentleman was, sadly, very wrong; what he should have said was the 2p bearing the New Pence legend and the 1983 date was worth considerably more than face value because of course prior to 1981 ALL UK coins bore that legend (after ’81 the legend changed to whatever the denomination was so the 2p bore “Two Pence” the 10p bore “Ten Pence” and so on – however some 1983 two pences were minted with the wrong reverse making them one of the few errors to “escape” from the Royal Mint in recent years). That however didn’t stop thousands of eager people clogging up the phones and computers of coin dealers up and down the country (not to mention Coin News) keen to cash in. One lady insisted that the twenty five coins she had and the thirty coins her sister had had to be rare because she’s heard it “on the telly”, we let her down gently.

Of course this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened, we all recall the debacle of the Queen’s Necklace on the £2, but it does give us an interesting insight into the mind of the public at large. This year’s COIN YEARBOOK has completely sold out, 8,500 copies gone by April with WH Smith’s, Waterstones et al crying out for more; thousands of people jamming phone lines and clogging emails hoping that what they heard on TV was true; prices at Auction Houses and on the Internet going through the roof and dealers up and down the country bemoaning the fact that they simply cannot buy the stock in fast enough – what one wonders is going on? In July I commented on the Slaney Auction and mentioned that it wasn’t necessarily investors coming in to the market but rather collectors keen to purchase the best pieces but is that true of the lower end of the market? Are the thousands of people buying the COIN YEARBOOK eager to become collectors? Are all those who ‘phoned the COIN NEWS offices about their “New Pence” 2p budding numismatists? Unfortunately I don’t think so, if we are all honest with ourselves we will have to admit that the vast majority of people still view coins as a “cash cow” a way to make some money and when they think they have something valuable (as with this latest round of erroneous information) they aren’t looking to keep it but looking for the best price they can get for it – but is that necessarily a bad thing? After all somewhere out there there is a 1933 penny, maybe in a jar in someone’s attic, maybe down the back of a old sofa, under a floorboard or forgotten in a drawer – and if it is ever discovered we will all be extremely happy to see it come on the open market. So it is with the less expensive but still sought after coins say the 1905 shilling or the 1925 Florin, the 1946 or ’49 threepennny bit or the 1950 or ’51 penny - if everyone became a collector these coins, already scarce, would become impossible to find, nothing would ever become available even in the lower grades, we’d never complete our collections and, in time many of us would begin to lose interest.

We would love to see new collectors, actively encourage as many people as we can to start in this interesting hobby of ours but we don’t grumble at those only out to make some extra cash, without them there’d be no active market and without an active market there’d be no hobby, something to think about isn’t it?

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In This Issue

Heads it is...
Evolution of the portrait head and Celtic Coin Obverses
Feature Article27
Coinage and Counterfeiting in the Roman Empire
Forgery was rife amongst the Ancients - but was it official?
Henry Vi: The reluctant King
The king who should have been a monk
On the Fringe35
Stamps as Money
An unusual use of postage stamps
Australia's tokens
An introduction to a complex series
Banknote Feature50
Banknotes of the Bahamas 1878-1968
An attractive series from a popular country
Banknotes for beginners52
Tips and Hints
Condition and grading


Coin News & Views8
New Issues Update14
Royal Mint Bulletin16
Market Scene19
Price Guide to Halfpennies37
The Lexicon45
Banknote news47
Dealers' Lists54
Coin Clinic57
Letters to the Editor58
Semi Display advertising68
Classified Advertising70
The Web Page72