Coin News

Volume 44, Number 10, October 2007

Man at the Top

Volume 44, Number 10, October 2007

London 2012 Olympics an opportunity not to be missed This month’s Comment comes from ALLAN WALLACE, formerly Director of Collector Coin for The Royal Mint. I was fortunate to play a part in the successful bid for the 2012 Olympics. As Director of Collector Coin for the Royal Mint I was asked to be a member of the Bid Team that met with the Olympic Evaluation Committee, in case there were questions about the Royal Mint’s Collector Coin Programme proposal. I was as pleased as most people when the games were awarded to London and knew that a real opportunity lay ahead of the Royal Mint to construct a programme that would reach out to collectors at all levels. I retired from the Royal Mint in March 2006 and at that time no discussions had been held, or proposals made, on the shape of the 2012 Olympic Games Coin programme. The following comments and suggestions are entirely my own thoughts on what the Royal Mint could be (or should be) considering for a London 2012 Olympic Coin Programme that would stand out as one of the best ever. It would need to reach out to both new and traditional collectors, meet the requirement of both younger and mature collectors alike and uniquely leave a positive legacy on UK circulating coin which would be in existence for decades after the 2012 Olympics has ended. The most accepted coin for the modern collector is the £5 Crown because the large surface area (38.61mm) allows the design to be shown off to best effect. The traditional collector coin programme should use the £5 crown in its various alloys (CuNi silver and gold) and its various quality standards (circulation BU and proof). Starting in 2009/2010 an annual issue of three base, three silver and one gold could be considered over a four year period. The Royal Mint will also have an obligation to generate revenue for the London 2012 Olympics and will need a programme which will continue to attract both traditional and new collectors through its lifetime. What the above programme will not do is reinvigorate an interest in coins and coin collecting amongst the younger generation and/or the general population. Here is an opportunity for the Royal Mini to develop a circulation coin programme which has the potential to revitalise coin collecting in the UK, just as the States Quarters Programme did in the USA. The Mint needs to think “outside the box’ and consider using one of the larger diameter smaller denomination, not currently used in its regular collector coin programmes. The obvious contenders for this role are the 2p (25.9mm) and the 10p (24.5mm) circulating coins, either of which would be suitable. They both meet the major requirements of being accessible, collectable and exchangeable—all important factors in the children’s market. It should be feasible to produce three designs per year in the four-year run up to 2012, making it possible to put together low cost collections of “real” coins that can be found in pockets and purses all across the country. I suspect that there will be strong resistance from traditionalists both inside the Mint and outside, but consideration of the long term benefits of growing a base of young collectors which will sustain the future of numismatics in this country should prevail.

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