Coins at Christmas
Volume 56, Number 12, December 2019
What a year DECEMBER is always a good time to take stock of the year, whether that’s personally, professionally or numismatically. What, I wonder, have been your highlights of 2019? Have you added much to your collection? Have you perhaps disposed of some of it and rationalised a little? Have you managed to finally get that one piece you were missing or did you simply tread water and are looking forward to 2020 to find that elusive item? Personally I took advantage of the high price of gold and sold a few of my bullion pieces, partly to find other numismatic purchases and partly because, well, I like money and the increase in gold to what I believe was an all-time GB£ record, was too good an opportunity to miss (it has been far higher in US$ terms—back in 2009 it was up at $1900 an ounce but the vagaries of the exchange rate and the current weakness of the GB£ mean that for purchasers over here gold has been a tad on the expensive side!). Did you do the same or did you do the opposite and decide to buy on a rising market? I know people who did both. One interesting thing that I did note about the latest gold spike was that there were far fewer “We buy your gold” advertisements around than there were a decade ago, where did those companies all go? Of course, gold wasn’t the only story of 2019, and those collecting new issues had another brace of bears to look out for as well as being confronted with the dilemma of whether to go for the non-circulating 50p issues such as the Gruffalo, the Snowman, the Stephen Hawking 50p and most recently a Wallace and Gromit coin or not. The quandary is simple, if you’re a 50p collector do you buy these coins direct from the Royal Mint and have a “complete” collection or do you consider them differently from the circulating coins and thus not necessary to purchase to make your collection whole? And if you do collect “one of everything” does that mean you have to purchase the two Anniversary of the 50p sets too? There is no right answer of course, each collector will make up their own minds but, judging by the conversations I’ve had with people it has caused more than a few headaches! That said new issue collecting still keeps gaining in popularity—as evidenced by the sales of our little Spend it? Save it? book on modern coins launched last year and the clamour for a second edition (which we launched at the end of September should you be interested!) At the other end of the spectrum older coins have also been in the news too with the Chew hoard of Harold II and William the Conqueror pennies making the mainstream media headlines (See COIN NEWS October) and the discovery of coins that showed Alfred and Ceolwulf II together helping to rewrite history just a little (COIN NEWS July). There have been auction records as well with the Vigo Five guineas making over $1million at the Baldwin’s of St James’s sale in New York in January (March COIN NEWS), the gold aureus of Allectus making over £500,000 at DNW (August COIN NEWS), the pattern Penny of Edward VIII smashing the previous penny record to hammer at £111,000 at Spink (November COIN NEWS) and, this month we report on the astonishing £3.7million that was paid for the Islamic Umyadd Dinar at Morton & Eden! Banknotes haven’t been left out and they too have been under the spotlight with the announcement that Alan Turing is to be the face of the new £50 and the unveiling of the design of the new polymer £20 featuring JMW Turner that is to be launched in February next year (can you believe it’s actually been over three years since the Bank of England’s first polymer note entered circulation?!). In short it has, once again, been an interesting year and there’s never a shortage of interesting items to fill our pages. Many of you will have heard Philip on BBC Radio from time to time (he has the perfect face for the medium) and one of the questions he is frequently asked when he’s introduced as a “Director of COIN NEWS magazine” is “is there much COIN NEWS around?” The answer is always a resounding yes—let’s hope that continues well in to 2020 and beyond. See you then!
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