Don’t you love a windfall story? When someone finds an old pot of Grandma’s in the attic and it turns out to be a Ming vase, for example. Or how the gloomy picture that’s hung in the study for years which nobody likes is actually by Van Gogh. It hasn’t happened to me, sadly. But I have found a pair of surprises in my spare change.
These two beauties (pictured) are actually worth a few times their face value due to their scarcity. The Mrs Tiggy-Winkle is part of a Beatrix Potter set which proved a hit with collectors. It’s a shame I didn’t get the Jemima Puddleduck, which is the most popular coin in the group, especially now the Royal Mint has confirmed significantly less of them were minted than the other characters.
The Battle of Hastings version is equally rare, according to www.changechecker.org. However, I’d be really quids in if I could find the Kew Garden variety which is the most sought after of all 50 pences. (FYI: the Change Checker website is stuffed with fascinating info on other coins, has a coin-swap exchange and tips on collecting.)
How does scarcity work out in cash terms then? I’ve seen the hedgehog for sale on ebay for £1,500. But I don’t think anyone will stump up that amount seeing as other sellers on the platform are offering it for £3.99 (plus postage, of course). So, even without the stamp and envelope, that’s eight times what I ‘paid’ for it – not a bad investment at all.
In fact, of all the so-called ‘alternative' investments, rare coins are the only category to have increased prices yearly (by an average of 11%) since 2005. In the last 12 years, coins generally have gone up in value some 225%, outpaced only by classic cars whose average worth is up 331%. In contrast, says the queen’s bankers, Coutts, art has almost halved.
I'll be investigating the inside of Team Minted’s piggy banks from now on, especially as the £1 round coin is about to go out of circulation. This means any rare issues will be even harder to get hold of and could command higher prices. Silly isn’t it, that most people don’t bother to check their change is the right amount, let alone whether there’s something more valuable in there? Next time, have a look – you might find hidden treasure.
Thanks to Emma for showing me her valuable £1 coins. For the SMM guide to alternative investments, see here.