#AskaCurator – Your Coin Questions Answered

We recently trialed the first of what we hope will become a regular feature for our Social Media fans - #AskaCurator. It is your chance to ask The Royal Mint Museum’s curators absolutely anything – from questions on a specific coin to how to stop silver from toning.

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Here is a selection of our favourite questions, picked and answered by one of the Museum’s curatorsChris:

Q1. Steve Kettle on Facebook asked - How long would it take to physically locate a specific coin in the museum? As in “coin in hand”, rather than a listing.. assuming you know how the cataloging system works…

A. Finding an individual coin is a fairly quick process. The collection is organised geographically and then chronologically within each country. Chris.

Q2. Matt Mckerlie on Facebook asked - Where can you get this and what info do you have about it? Need this to complete my collection.

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A. As part of the 1994 coinage review, two options were considered for the introduction of a circulating £2 coin, one being the homogeneous nickel-brass coin shown in the picture, and the other a bi-metal coin similar to those that we are familiar with today. As part of the process, a limited number of trial pieces of both types were produced for use in handling tests. To obtain a specimen you would need to go through a numismatic dealer. If you are resident in the United Kingdom you might like to consider contacting the British Numismatic Trade Association. Chris

Q3. Colin Harper asked – How many coins do you have in the collection and are there any coins produced in the UK that the Royal Mint doesn’t have?

A. We have over 80,000 coins in our collection, but we also have artwork, plaster models, machinery and coinage dies. The collection does indeed have gaps, particularly from the earlier periods, such as the Anglo-Saxon and early medieval eras, owing to the Museum claiming expertise only from 1662 onwards. Find out more about a particular coin and see some of the highlights of our collection on our website. Chris.

Q4. William Haase on Facebook asked – I am looking for details on certain commemorative coins produced for the country of Kenya by The Royal Mint. Mintage amounts, size and weight of the coin, etc. These details were usually provided by The Royal Mint as they produced the coins, but I can’t find them anywhere. Where would I find such details? Specifically the 1986 “20 years of Central bank”, the 2013 coins in Gold, Silver, and brass.

A. A quick search through our records shows that the 20th anniversary of the Central Bank of Kenya was commemorated on a 500 shilling piece struck in cupro-nickel that had a diameter of 38.61 millimeters, with a weight of 28.276 grammes. Our records show that a total of 2,500 were struck. We have yet to compile figures for 2013, but if you would like to get in touch with us in a few months’ time we would be happy to provide you with further information. If you are interested in The Royal Mint’s work with countries in the past you might like to look at country profiles on our website. Chris.

Q5. Simon Knill-Jones on Facebook asked - What is the most valuable coin and the rarest coin The Royal Mint has?

A. There are some true rarities in the collection such as trial pieces and material prepared for the coinage of Edward VIII that was never issued due to the Abdication, or the Vigo Bay five-guinea piece issued during the reign of Queen Anne. But we are much more concerned with their heritage and cultural value rather than their current market value. Chris.

The Queen Anne Vigo Bay Five-Guinea   Edward VIII £5 obv RMM

Q6. Gemma Vickery on Facebook asked - Why don’t £5 coins get released into circulation? As they have been minted for many years now and the £5 coins that people have bought – are they legal tender?

A. £5 coins or ‘Crowns’ are issued to mark special occasions, usually royal in theme, rather than for use in general circulation. They are legal tender for £5 but contrary to popular belief this does not mean that banks and retailers automatically have to accept them. The definition of legal tender is a very narrow one. It means that a debtor cannot successfully be sued for non-payment if he pays into court in legal tender. Chris

Q7. Colin Harper on Facebook asked – How do you stop silver coins from getting toning on them?

A. The toning of silver is a natural process and, even when kept in the most suitable conditions, silver coins will begin to age over time. You may be interested in this article written some years ago by a former Queen’s Assay Master which provides further details on the subject.Bulletin-7-p-6

Q8. Is the Musuem’s collection open to the public?

A. Unfortunately, for health and safety and security reasons, the Museum has been closed for many years to members of the public. We are currently working on making the collection more accessible and we hope the situation will improve over the coming years. However, much of the collection is now visible on the Museum’s website and many items are also out on loan at various exhibitions around the world – we hope you may manage to visit some! Chris

To keep up to date with new coins and news from The Royal Mint follow us on Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow The Royal Mint Museum on Facebook and Twitter too – they are always more than happy to answer your questions and give advice on coins at any time. If you have any questions you’d like answered visit our social media channels or comment below.

  • Adam Swansbury

    Here are two more questions for the next phase.

    1] The Royal Mint produced a trial coin in 1981, which looks very similar to the 20 pence coin, first released in 1982. However, one auction house describes the piece as a 25p trial. Did the Royal Mint really consider producing a 25p coin instead of a 20p? Coinage systems with a “two” unit (e.g. our two pence) usually have a 20 unit; those without, e.g. the U.S. system, usually have a 25 unit (25 cents/quarter, etc.). Thankfully the correct choice was made in the UK.

    [img]http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/ae231/octoid/UK1981_Trial-20p_zpsf983f3cd.jpg[/img]

    2] Britain’s first decimal coins included the legend “NEW PENCE”. The “NEW” was removed in 1982. However, if you look closely, you will see that the reverse designs of the 5p and 50p coins were also significantly amended in 1982. Were the amended designs created by Christopher Ironside, and were they created in the 1960s, ready for the planned legend change – or in the 1980s?

    [img]http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/ae231/octoid/Oldandnewfivepence.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/ae231/octoid/UK50newpence.jpg[/img]

    [img]http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/ae231/octoid/UK50p1982.jpg[/img]

  • rivett

    The Royal Mint has celebrated the changing portraits of Her Majesty the Queen on several occasions. Are you able to show us some of the designs submitted that weren’t successful?

  • MozFan

    Chris, I have a London mint proof 1932 10 Zlotych (Poland). I’ve seen conflicting reports of 100 made by The Royal Mint, fewer than 50, fewer than 5. Can you confirm how many examples are currently held by The Royal Mint?

  • Haroon

    How much is a florence nightingale £2 coin worth?