An air of secrecy pervades the red-brick townhouse that sits around the corner from St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Upon entering, I’m ushered into a wood-panelled room where five white-gloved employees of the Royal Mint stand in front of a dark display case.
Inside is a polished silver coin the size of a satsuma. The unmistakable profile of our new king is printed on it.
Limited: The most expensive piece in Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s commemorative coin collection at the Royal Mint is a £82,950 ounce gold coin weighing 1kg (shown)
It’s a Thursday afternoon and I’m one of the first in the country to witness the unveiling of a new £5 commemorative coin commemorating the life and death of the late Queen.
Our small group is gathered at the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, a historic knife making guild that dates back to the 13th century.
Not used to seeing anything other than the portrait of Queen Elizabeth on our coins, it takes me a second to get used to this new image: King Charles, modestly dressed, without a crown, facing his mother – as is tradition. But she’s not far away.
On the reverse are two portraits of our late monarch; one by her in her youth and one in her later years. Above it is the inscription “Elizabeth Regina”.
It is the first time in the Royal Mint’s 1,100-year history that two monarchs have been featured on one coin. The effigy was made by sculptor Martin Jennings, best known for his statues of writers Sir John Betjeman and George Orwell.
Since the Queen’s death last month, many people have been desperate to collect as many keepsakes and collectibles as possible to celebrate her long legacy.
The new £5 crown is one of three designs unveiled by the Royal Mint on Monday as part of its commemorative coin collection for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The range also includes a 50p theme featuring the king. On the reverse is a picture of the Royal Arms’ quarters – and the emblem of each home nation.
The third design is a special ‘ounce’ coin, featuring a profile picture of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and the effigy of the king on the other.
All three are available in a range of precious metals – with costs varying depending on the material.
For example, a £5 crown in a “brilliant uncirculated standard” can be purchased for £14.50. This means the minted metal is of higher quality than coins in general circulation.
A platinum version of the design, on the other hand, costs £5,770. And if you want a 22k gold variant of the 50p piece, that will cost you £1,195.
A limited edition 5oz gold coin also sold for £13,395. But only 250 were made and by yesterday morning they had all been sold.
The most expensive item in the collection is a gold coin worth £82,950 weighing 1kg. Only 30 are available.
The new £5 crown is one of three new designs released by the Royal Mint as part of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s commemorative coin collection
The £5 and 50p coins will be custom made to reduce waste and will be available until December 31st. However, most of the “ounce” designs are available in limited editions.
All are available individually and come with a presentation box and a certificate of authenticity.
Unsurprisingly, the Royal Mint’s website crashed just as the new collection was released, and by 10:30am almost 60,000 people were queuing online.
Customers took to Twitter to vent their frustration while struggling to sign up. One user said that after queuing for an hour, he was forced to give up as there were still 35,000 people ahead of him.
Another suggested it was like an online continuation of the Queen’s in-state attendance queue, as thousands lined the streets of London to pay their respects.
Annoyingly, customers who looked away from their screens while waiting also found themselves losing their seats as the queue numbers were only valid for ten minutes.
But the waiting time had shortened by yesterday morning.
A spokesman for the Royal Mint says: “We thank customers for their patience at this incredibly busy time.” If you are not online, you can make purchases by phone on 0800 0322 152.
The Royal Mint regularly produces collections to commemorate significant royal events, most recently the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the former Prince of Wales’ 70th birthday.
Sought after: The Platinum 50p, which originally cost £1,395, is now selling for £3,500
Jon White, coin expert at Britannia Coin Company, says: “The long-term value of a coin depends on how many coins are being produced and what the demand is at the moment.
“New coins for a new monarch are always popular, as are the last coins from the previous monarch. We anticipate phenomenal demand for these commemorative coins.”
A £1,800 sovereign collection of three coins commemorating the Queen’s Jubilee in June is no longer available on the Royal Mint’s website. And a UK £5 silver proof coin commemorating the same event, which retailed at £92.50, has also sold out.
To mark the anniversary, the Royal Mint produced a limited edition of 50p coins in platinum, which is unusual as the metal is very difficult to mint.
“The Platinum 50p has been phenomenally successful and is now selling for £3,500 each,” says Mr White. Originally priced at £1,395.
On Friday a 2022 limited edition Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee £5 coin costing £14.50 sold on eBay for £35.50.
The commemorative coin set cannot be used as legal tender.
However, new 50p coins of the same design as in the collection will be put into circulation from December. That means they could be in the nation’s pockets by Christmas.
The coins are distributed through 20 “cash centers” across the country, which provide banks and post offices with cash as needed.
There are currently around 27 billion coins in circulation featuring the image of the late monarch, which will circulate along with the new coins.
From January 1st next year, all new coins, whether circulation or commemorative, will bear the image of the king.
Chris Barker, Information and Research Manager at the Royal Mint says: “The Queen has been the only figure to grace our coins since decimalisation and it is not inconceivable that some of these coins will still be out there thousands of years from now and recognizable.’
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