Undated 20p pieces - what to do with yours, and the eBay scams
Ever since we featured the story about the undated 20p pieces worth hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of times more than their face value, we've received a fat stack of emails asking for advice on where and how to sell them. All to a man have turned down our beyond-generous offer of a quid and a bag of grapes for them, so we've begrudgingly rustled up a guide on what to do if you find one in your change:
As soon as the story broke, the media became a frenzy of headlines stating the 20p pieces were worth a guaranteed £50. The offer was only available to the first 10,000 people to register on the website of The London Mint Office. Since then, however, the offer has been extended to allow another 15,000 to register and claim their £50. If it's a quick sale you want, that's the place to head.
The frenzy turned into a orgy of panicked purse purusing when one of the coins was sold for £7,100 on eBay, although it hasn't been confirmed whether money has changed hands yet. Since then sales have stablised, and it's more likely that if you were to list your coin on eBay today, it would sell it for between £150 and £200. That hasn't stopped some chancers, however:
If eBay appeals to you, we'd suggest taking a unique photo, perhaps with the coins flat against a background other than black or white; there have been claims of fraudsters copying other people's photos for their listings then posting ordinary 20p pieces, so unique images will help convince buyers you're in possession of the real deal.
Just in case you're buying, there are sly sellers listing 20p coins that are undated on the head side:
In fact all 20 pence pieces are undated on the head side - the new coins were meant to be the first that carried the date on this side, but because of how they were manufactured, the old head side was used with the new tails side (also undated), hence the undated coins. So the listing isn't technically fibbing, but it's playing on buyer's misunderstanding.
When you start exploring the £50 valuation of the coins, the story gets a little murky. The London Mint Office is not the same as The Royal Mint - The London Mint Office is actually an international conglomerate with an annual turnover of approximately £200 million, and no official ties whatsoever to The Royal Mint.
If you go back to the stories that first announced the coin's existence, the expert quoted regarding the £50 valuation was a member of staff at The London Mint Office. In fact, despite the blanket coverage of the story across all media, you'll be hard-pressed to find a quote from anyone other than spokesperson Nick Hart. Didn't seem that way, did it? The Independent did speak to several other collectors, who believed "the 20p pieces could be worth up to £300 within five or 10 years, especially if they were kept in good condition and turn out to be particularly scarce." Those quotes never received any attention. The London Mint Office controlled the story - and the value - of the coins from the very start.
The Royal Mint estimates that between 50,000 and 200,000 undated 20p pieces were produced; there are millions of coin collectors around the world. And it's called the "hobby of kings" for crying out loud. As Andy pointed out at the time, The London Mint Office obviously wants these coins because they'll make massive profits from them. The fact that they're extended their offer to buy another 15,000 of the coins suggests they're aware of just how much money they can make in the future, and justify further investment.
Finally, there's another key fact that was glossed over by most of the press last week; these coins didn't suddenly drop into circulation at the beginning of July - they've been in our pockets since last year. You can be certain that up until last week, the Royal Mint was attempting to take these coins out of circulation at every opportunity, and will continue to do so. It's unlikely there are as many in circulation as the production numbers suggest.
If you don't need the money right now, you're probably better forgetting about eBay and keeping the coin(s) safe for the time being - your undated 20p piece may be more rare and worth far more than you think.