Posted on September 30, 2022
In your very own version of BullionMax Numismatic News, we have a little bit of the unexpected, a little bit of the strange, and some of the, well, the expected. What's trending in the bullion coin sphere these days? Let's see...
People want to put a bit of their spare money into their Queen.
It's a... buyer's market... right? The above quote is attributed to one John Platts, a coin retailer who has seen a huge spike in Perth Mint’s 2023 Year of the Rabbit coins. Although their mintage year is 2023, Perth Mint is selling these coins without updating the obverse. Thus, this is a possibly unique opportunity to get a sovereign mint coin with Her Highness’s portrait on it after her reign has ended. (In fairness, I should point out John Platts is from a place called North Queensland – which might have an influence on the local popularity of queens.)
Platts tells us these unusual coins have sold out in less than a week. Curiously enough, it's not just British people being in a frenzy: Japan, Germany and even China are clamoring for these coins. Japan, well, no idea about that. Germany is apparently over those two world wars and are now fans of the British Empire. China? You’d think they would still be angry about the Opium Wars, although the UK did return Hong Kong to the Chinese government as promised. So maybe they're over it now.
And yes, right here in the U.S. many a coin collector has come down with a severe case of Queen Elizabeth fever.
Fortunately, U.S. buyers don't need an updated passport, vaccinations against dengue and Ross River virus and a plane ticket to North Queensland to get their Queen's coin fix. We recently received confirmation that our very own inventory of 2023 Queen Elizabeth II Year of the Rabbit coins were on a container ship, headed our way. We’ll get them online as soon as October 6.
Meantime, we have a fantastic selection of Queen Elizabeth II gold and silver coins for your collection. Seriously, they’re flying off the shelves…
Aftermarket numismatic appreciation is the talk of the town with this mintage due to, ah, recent events, and let me tell you there are a whole lot of coin buyers just like John Platts betting on it.
Wait, what does the PNG mean by “pretender”?
In Medieval times, the word “pretender” in the context of monarchy had a very specific meaning – essentially, “That ain’t the real king.” Usurpers and upstarts with insufficiently-blue bloodlines were derided as “pretenders.”
So are PNG suggesting that the British people shouldn't be paying King Charles III like a billion pounds sterling a year in existence tax? Or that every property purchased in Britain shouldn't also come with a "by the way, this is really King Charles III's and he might want it back at any time" clause attached? Are they, in fact, hinting that King Charles III is not by God’s grace the king of all Britons?
No, no, nothing so dramatic. Although that would indeed be the kind of thing that would get the normally-staid coin collecting community all riled up…
Instead, they are talking about King Charles III coins that aren't really British legal tender, minted by quick-buck types on behalf of, let’s say, fourth-tier sovereign nations, or by someone with a coin press and an AliExpress account. They’re trying to be first-to-market because times of big transitions create opportunity for the little guys to win a little something back from the big bad colonizer.
Don’t be confused, though – the British Commonwealth of Nations is huge. There are something like 55 different nations that can, perfectly legitimately, issue their own King Charles III gold coin even without His Royal Highness’s permission. It's possibly considered gauche and a bit dodgy by ye olde Master of the Royal Mint, but that doesn’t make it any less official.
Here’s a relevant example: did you ever notice that Canadia’s gold maple leaf coins use a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Susannah Blunt which is totally different from Jody Clark’s “fifth portrait” of the Queen as seen on the gold Britannia? That’s kosher because Royal Canadian Mint is making their own decisions about their own coinage. They aren’t required to use the official British portrait.
What the PNG is trying to warn us about is that coins issued outside of Britain or the countries subjugated by it aren’t British legal tender even if they bear King Charles III’s image. The PNG believes these coins are likely to drop in value quickly after sale. Another important point they make is that these mints will sometimes only have a foil covering of gold as opposed to being almost entirely made of it. Buyers beware.
Update: While I was writing the above, this happened…
Well, that was quick! Here’s what HM looks like, officially:
The official coin effigy of Britain’s King Charles III is seen on a 50 pence coin, unveiled by The Royal Mint, in London, Britain, September 29, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Not too bad!
Two things to note:
We know that the U.S. Mint's silver coin shortages are such that they have drawn the attention of Congress, partly due to the resulting premiums. Can it get worse? Well, sales of the aforementioned coins, as part of a 10-set series passed 200,000 units.
The sales are actually slightly lower than last year's quarterly figures, though the 2022-W ones are higher. Here's the thing: Congress wasn't voicing worries about silver American eagle availability last year, we believe. The marginal decrease in sales pales in comparison to the overall shortages and issues that U.S. Mint has faced.
The top 10 sellers last week were exclusively numismatics pieces, mostly in a set. Have buyers developed a distaste for bullion? Not based on our sales! More likely, collectors are desperate to get theirs from the mint before their website crashes. Again.