April 26th 2023.
Next club meeting Monday 15th May 2023.
Subject – Copies, Counterfeits, Fakes etc. By Michael Gouby
Monday 5th June 2023
· Annual General Meeting and Display Competition
Monday 5th July 2023
· TBC By Alistair MacKay
Meetings are held at the Abbey Baptist Church, Abbey Square, commencing at 7.00 p.m.
To complement Michael’s talk at the next meeting, he asks you to bring along any counterfeits/fakes/restrikes/fantasy coins etc.. and we can all see how they fit into the grand scheme of fakery.
It will be the Annual General meeting in June and the time when we look for volunteers to serve on the committee, PLEASE give it some consideration. It is also the time for the Annual Display Competition, so start thinking about that too.
The April meeting started with John reading out a note sent from a collector of fifty years who was disappointed at being offered less for his collection than he had spent amassing it, now that he has decided to sell it as there is no one to leave it to. He asked ‘Is it really worth collecting?’. The general view of the meeting is that he should definitely get some more quotes and not rely on just one dealer. John also pointed out that when you are valuing a personal collection you ought to take into account the pleasure you get from having owned the coins.
Our speaker for the evening was ‘Christopher Collects’ who is a YouTube blogger and also an employee of The Britannia Coin Company in Royal Wootton Bassett. He represents a new breed of coin collector who use the Internet and all that that means. He pointed out that like all things, coin collecting needs to move on with the times.
Although he can’t remember what coin really started his interest in the hobby the interest really took off when his father bought both him and his brother a set of coins for the Millennium back in 2000. He collects mainly the decimal issues from the UK but also has a substantial foreign coin collection. He has a very successful YouTube channel with about 75,000 ‘followers’ who tune in every few days to watch as he searches through a bag of coins from the bank/post office looking for the commemoratives. It wasn’t an overnight success, a previous attempt with stamps failed completely. ‘Christopher Collects’ is now a thriving business and Christopher uses the profits to allow him to add to his collection. In addition, his success online got him noticed within the coin trade, hence his current job, producing videos for the Britannia Coin Company.
He began by talking about how easy it was to set up a YouTube channel and how, after gaining the requisite number of ‘followers’ who ‘subscribe’ (freely) to the channel, he derives an income from the adverts that accompany the recordings YouTube puts up on his channel. He went on to talk about how to get hold of the bags of £2 and 50p coins that he searches through. In order to acquire them in the industrial quantities that Christopher needs, you have to be a ‘business’, some banks and post offices are not happy about having to arrange to get hold of large amounts of coin for customers with personal accounts. Christopher pointed out that unlike collecting bubble gum cards or the like, you can just take the coins back if you don’t want to hang on to them and effectively swap them for others. It turns out that the most common commemorative is the ‘Benjamin Bunny’ 50p and Christopher signs some of these (black marker pen) and releases them ‘back in to the wild’ so if you get a 50p that’s been written on in your change, check to see if it’s one of his.
He went on to outline the designs he looked out for when doing the hunts, starting unsurprisingly, with the Kew Gardens 50p from 2009, which retails at up to £200 at the moment. Next in line come the Olympic 50ps, issued in 2011, which Christopher believes are criminally undervalued because so many people became interested in the series when it was issued and also they have relatively low mintages. Christopher remembers working in retail when he was at University and seeing young children coming in and wanting to swap for the 50ps in the till. A similar thing happened with the Beatrix Potter series and he feels this is a good way to encourage the next generation of collectors. In the two pound series, he mentioned the Commonwealth Games, especially Northern Ireland and the Navy Centenary – commonly misnamed the HMS Belfast two pound, even though HMS Belfast didn’t see service in the First World War. The confusion may have arisen when some of the coins were being issued by the museum in Belfast. Christopher also discussed the so called ‘flag error’ version of the Navy Centenary two pound. He also told us that tens of thousands of Kew Gardens 50ps were shipped to Germany to use as Olympic commemoratives, having a sticker put on them, though it’s not clear if they were part of the 210,000 issued for circulation. Of course the Kew Gardens 50p isn’t the rarest 50p ever issued but what seems to make it the most valuable is the interest that arises from the possibility that you could find one in your change. Other coins to look out for are the Alphabet 10ps issued in 2018/19 though these almost never seem to turn up in change. They are given out in change at the Royal Mint shops, who keep a stock of them.
If the Royal Mint need a coin to be issued quickly (eg. the late Queen’s 70th 50p) then they will release it through Post Offices. It seems as if the decision on what designs to release and when, owes much to the ideas of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. From the point of view of the hobby as a whole, the importance of novel designs cannot be overestimated, likewise the possibility of finding the coin in your change. New designs can provide a jumping off point for someone to get into the hobby. Though they are no longer in circulation, the old ‘round’ pounds were also a highly collectable set, with arguably designs that are more relevant to the UK than say ‘Harry Potter’.
Next Christopher went on to discuss NIFC (Not issued for circulation) or NSFC (Not struck for circulation) coins, which the Mint are now producing in ever greater numbers. These are coins that are intended only for collectors and deliberately not put into circulation, though it is not unknown for the odd one to escape, perhaps if a set has been broken up when someone inherited them. Even some years of the definitive designs are NIFC and are worth looking out for, a point Christopher makes in his blogs but still gets people contacting him expecting their 2010 Technology £2 coin (nearly 7 million minted) to be something special.
He then moved on to errors, mentioning rotation errors on coins such as the 2017 Benjamin Bunny 50p, likewise the Shakespeare Tragedies £2 coin has been minted with the Army Centenary inscription ‘For King and Country’. Christopher’s favourite error is a ‘fried egg’ two pound coin where the centre has spread. Another error is a ‘doubled die’ error where the inscription shows clear signs of doubling. Other errors can arise from die clashes, which can transfer part of the design from one side of a coin to the other. Some errors are just damaged coins and Christopher is always sceptical of a new error until it has been verified.
Christopher then went on to talk about YouTube, pointing out that there are so many channels available that someone somewhere has almost certainly got one for your subject. He has found that people who had no previous interest in the topic have come across his videos and consequently became collectors themselves, including Master Dan Temple who now makes his own videos, and blames Christopher for the amount of money he now spends on coins. Other channels include Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter etc.. which also have areas devoted to coin collecting, all serving to market the hobby to people who would never have come across it otherwise. Christopher has a Discord server, which is a forum where people can ‘chat’ and swap pictures of coins etc.
He feels there is a need to have someway of getting information about things such as Coin Fairs and internet enabled channels can do that. Christopher revealed that it is only in the last two years that he has been attending fairs and that other dealers there tell him that the fairs are much quieter than they used to be. Other avenues are the likes of EBAY, though Christopher was quick to give a warning about dodgy dealers on such sites.
Christopher revealed that he had been in Retail Banking, which gave him considerable access to coins but was put into the team for IT migration and knew it was time to leave. He then took a job selling insurance on the phone, which he loved, before joining the Britannia Coin Company, to make educational videos about coin related topics. Of course, since he joined the company he now has access to a far greater range of coins and has been learning quickly. For example, he has learnt more about the British Monarchy in the last two years than he ever did at school, had never seen such beautiful items as the Gothic Crowns or such interesting ones as 5Kg Gold coins.
Returning to YouTube he reiterated how easy it is to set up a channel. His friends ask him if it worth the effort and he replies ‘Why not?’, if you set up a channel and no one ‘follows’ it then that means that no one knows you’ve failed – win-win. For Christopher one of the best results is the number of new friends he has made all over the country, who he now gets to meet ‘in the flesh’ at events like Coin Fairs or trips to the Royal Mint.
In response to questions Christopher said that the company will be moving into new premises (a NEW coin shop) in about a year’s time. His office however is currently a ladies loo. Discussion turned to the fairs and how much of the dealing is done, between the dealers, before the public come in. A discussion ensued about the reasons fairs are less attractive now than in previous times, with travel, parking and cost being mentioned. Christopher doesn’t believe that coins in everyday commerce are going to disappear any time soon, they are too perfectly suited to certain types of transaction. Certainly the Royal Mint will still be making coins, even if only commemoratives, but Christopher pointed out that the basis for a lot of collecting comes from finding things in your change and the Royal Mint ignores that at its peril. He remains himself a collector, rather than an investor.
Christopher frequently comes across ‘newbie’ questions on the forums, where the posters are roundly condemned for asking a stupid question and he pointed out that we were all new to the subject once and such questions should not be dealt with so severely, not if we want more people to join the hobby. The general feeling of the meeting was in total agreement. Thank you to Christopher for a very engaging talk and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of him ‘in the trade’ in years to come.
· 10 years ago – “Professor Holloway- A modern man from Victorian times’” – Mick Martin
· 20 years ago – “The Coinage of Maria Theresia” – Tim Hayward
· 30 years ago – The Annual Coin Fair
· 40 years ago – “Victorian Tokens’ – George Berry
· 50 years ago – “Sources of Royal Mint Silver in the 18th Century” – R. Sharman