every year as our guide to British coin prices this is what we believe the market price of a particular coin or set is, based on average values found in dealers’ lists and at auction; we keep it up to date with the pricing in COIN NEWS every month if dealers choose to sell outside that range then that is entirely up to them, not us.
That said, yes, based on our own YEARBOOK figures we do agree that the Royal Mint’s price for this particular set is high and, yes, we are sure that these coins can be bought from other dealers for less money. But isn’t that missing the point? For many the Royal Mint doesn’t just sell coins it provides a total service which includes being part of the “Coin Club”. Members receive regular mailings, coins packaged and presented in a certain way, etc. and those collectors who buy from them (and there are thousands) are prepared to pay for that. To provide this service the Mint has all the overheads of any large company the staff, the distribution system, advertising, design and packaging costs (the set in question is well presented, complete with historical information, etc.) and so on. Because of this they don’t try to compete on price with the smaller dealers who have none of the above expenses and to compare the two is misleading. The “ordinary dealers” (is there such a thins!?) are, of course, essential for the hobby, they are its lifeblood, but thanks to the amount of money, time and effort the Royal Mint spends on marketing,packaging, websites, advertising, etc., its reach is a long one and that’s vital too which brings me neatly to the second topic that has featured in our post bag recently.
The States quarters programme has been a great success in the US and something like it over here, or a “limited edition” release (which sees a very limited number of coins with a certain mintmark released along with the standard issue coins) would have people checking their change up and down the land and would increase the profile of our hobby no end. We would heartily encourage any such endeavour, in fact it is something we’ve been campaigning for over the years and know it would do great things for numismatics. But here’s the rub it would have to be the Royal Mint who undertook such a programme they are the only ones able give coin collecting that kind of boost. Yes, this is mainly down to their monopoly position as being the manufacturer of circulating British coins but it is also down to the fact they have a very powerful marketing department and a strong PR presence. It is these very things that make them different from the “ordinary dealer” and allows them to reach people far beyond the confines of the traditional hobby. Because of this they are in an excellent position to bring new people into the hobby.