Year of the Ox
Volume 58, Number 2, February 2021
Locking down, looking up HERE we are again, the UK back in lockdown and the vast majority of us stuck at home. I make no comments about lockdowns, vaccines, PCR tests or anything else here; there are plenty of others with their own opinions and to add my voice to the debate would be pointless. What I care about is my family, my staff, my readers and the hobby at large and, thankfully at the moment, they are all doing well I believe. My family and staff are all OK, I know that (we are still here, working away, but everyone who can work from, home is doing so and the rest are on a rota to make sure not too many people are in the office at any one time), and judging by the readers we have spoken to since coming back in the first week of January, most of you are doing pretty well too. You’re a sensible bunch it seems and you are keeping safe as much as you can. Obviously the demographic of the average coin collector helps, not many of you are out partying at illegal raves at the weekend, but also it seems that the natural level of intelligence that goes with those who are fascinated by numismatics is helping too—you’re being sensible, not taking risks and weathering the storm as best you can. Fortunately the same thing can be said of the hobby as well. Indeed it isn’t just weathering the storm but positively flourishing! The auctions continue to bring in big money with some simply stunning coins coming up for sale, and they are fetching correspondingly stunning prices. But it isn’t just the choice items that are selling, our sources in the trade tell us that everything, across the board, is flying out of the door. In troubled times sovereigns and other bullion, as well as other coins people see as investment, always do well; when things are uncertain those with money to spend look towards diversifying their portfolios and coins are often seen as a good option, but that isn’t the only thing that’s happening here. What’s happened in this past year, and continues apace now, is a rise in collecting, a resurgence of the interest in forming a collection of something, of cataloguing, researching, spending time on a hobby. People who find themselves at home, unable to socialise, meet friends, go on holiday, even just mooch around the shops, are looking for distractions and either they are going back to their childhood hobbies or, and we are finding this more and more, they are coming to collecting for the first time. Only this week I took a ‘phone call from somebody who had bought our little guide to decimal coins, Spend it? Save it? just before Christmas in order to sort out his “change jar” and now that he’d done that he wanted to start collecting pre-decimals. He was old enough to remember the large size 50p, 10p and 5p but only vaguely remembered the shilling and florin being used as “New Pence” equivalents and he had decided that this year, on the 50th anniversary of decimalisation, to start looking at the “Old Money” too. He was amazed to discover that you could still buy sets of pre-decimal coins and that collecting the ERII issues wouldn’t be difficult; we finished the conversation with him vowing to look beyond 20th century coins and to start collecting shillings from every reign, rather annoying really as that’s something I collect, so I’ve just created a rival! His ‘phone call regarding pre-decimal coins was one of a few we’ve had since the start of the year. It seems the anniversary has sparked a bit of an interest out there, something undoubtedly helped by the rather lovely anniversary 50p that the Royal Mint issued bearing the Arnold Machin effigy, (a decision that makes it numismatically very interesting indeed!). And we are finding that once again coins are in the news (yes, I know not always for the right reasons but we’re not talking about tripods right now). Collecting is in fashion again, coins are in the news again, and whilst things in the big wide world may seem all doom and gloom, as long as we all stay safe and well this could prove to be an excellent year for our hobby. Let’s hope so anyway!
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