Those undated 20p pieces - how many are REALLY in circulation?
Barely two weeks ago, we updated you on the undated 20p piece situation and laid out your options if you'd found one amongst your pocket shrapnel. Our advice? We suggested you keep hold of them for now. Given all the evidence, there were possibly far fewer coins in circulation than numbers estimated by The Royal Mint ("less than 250,000") and independent commercial collectors The London Mint Office ("between 50,000 and 250,000").
We pointed to a little-mentioned fact of the story - the coins had been in circulation since November last year. Curiously, despite having seven months in which to do so, The Royal Mint didn't publish any press release concerning the undated 20p pieces - the timing at which this became a news story seems to have been left to The London Mint Office, which then set the widely-reported value of the coins at £50 and controlled the mainstream press coverage. In those seven months, The Royal Mint will have been trying to take the coins out of public circulation. And The London Mint Office recently extended its offer to buy up a further 15,000 pieces for £50 a time (on top of the 10,000 it had already bought) - suggesting the company had perhaps revised its view of the coin's future value.
So how much is your undated 20p piece worth? According to The London Mint Office, £50 if you register it with them today - while selling them privately on eBay is now fetching sales under £100 (as long as you watch out for the scams). However, all these valuations are based on the Royal Mint's statement that there were less than 250,000 of these coins produced to begin with. Last week, we received this anonymous tip-off from a Bitterwallet reader:
A relative of mine works for The Royal Mint; apparently the 250,00 estimated undated 20p pieces in circulation was a huge exaggeration. The number is between 40,000 to 50,000. The Royal Mint is set to announce this next week only after the London Mint Company have purchased another 10,000 coins.
If this proves to be the case, then expect the value of the undated 20p pieces to soar, and more than a few questions to be asked about the specifics of how the story was reported to the media.