Lancashire Times
Weekend Edition
Sonia Price
Features Writer
6:20 AM 3rd July 2021

Weekend Observations: Iffy Fifties. Who Knows The Value Of The 50p Coin In Your Pocket?

Image: Nickster 2000 Flickr
Image: Nickster 2000 Flickr
I know someone who likes to collect all manner of tat. He doesn’t collect any useful stuff but he assures me that when all this crud – sorry shrewdly curated collector items- are monetised at the optimum moment, he will have plenty of cash to buy some useful stuff. He is particularly vulnerable to special edition things which are signed by the author/artist/counterfeiter.

This stuff is collectable because it is limited – usually to runs of about 10,000. He is my dear friend and I am not embarrassed by him at all. We’ll call him Mick.

One Saturday afternoon.

Mick: “Hey look at this – I’ve got one of those 50p coins commemorating Brexit.

"Guess what they’re worth on e-bay. Go on guess!”

Me: “I don’t know – 50p?”

Mick: "Keep going.”

Mick’s excitement is palpable as he pumps his upturned palms skywards. I glance at his iPhone.

Mick: “Look. There’s one here for £2,500.”

Me: “There’s one there for £2.50. Please don’t buy the £2,500 one Mick.”

I wonder which one is the more valuable and what kind of person transacts thousands of pounds into some stranger’s paypal account in exchange for 50p.

My insouciant approach to this sort of speculation was evinced when I casually traded one of my shiny Sherlock Holmes 50ps without too much anxiety for one pound sterling. The pound Mick gave me for it came and went quite quickly but, six months later Sherlock is still hiding out in Mick’s wallet.

Image: Amanda Slater Flickr
Image: Amanda Slater Flickr
I don’t pretend to know much (or even anything) about trading and investing but I once read the back of a book about investing by Warren Buffet and his abiding principle was to not be in a hurry when it comes to investing. Patience is key. Wealth takes time. Mick might have bought it if it had been a signed limited-edition copy. Perhaps a special Christmas edition with a free Warren Buffett calendar, but he would never, ever, have taken it out of its investment-preserving cellophane wrapper to imbibe the wisdom within.

Sherlock Holmes had been in my possession for a good twenty minutes before I deemed the market conditions were right to sell it to Mick. I should explain – my highly collectable coin was handed to me in my change from my weekend newspaper and a biro for the crossword from WH Smith.

Two days later, sipping on a lovely glass of wine with my lunch in my favourite bar, I have a pressing need to phone Mick.

Me:“Hey Mick. I’ve got one of those 50ps with Paddington Bear in the foreground of St Paul’s Cathedral. There’s one like it on e-bay for £1,500. The one I’ve got has some till-worn damage, but only on the Queen’s side. Paddington is pristine and shiny. I’ll let you have him for one of those pounds.”

I found myself developing confusing and abstract ideas about the value of the 50p in my pocket. Sentimentality intervenes and I change my mind about trading Paddington. Not now, not this way and for some reason not to that old Shylock, Mick. I had grown up on Paddington’s stories and I knew he had been shunted around quite enough. What he thinks about being on a coin in the middle of a pandemic I can only wonder. I determine to keep him out of Mick’s greedy grasp.

I have never understood collectors of things. Being an unusually ascetic Taurean I have always felt much happier chucking stuff out.

Image: George Armstrong Flickr
Image: George Armstrong Flickr
Later, Mick and I confer on the right price to pitch his Brexit commemorating 50p on e-bay: £2 or £2,000 or somewhere in between. After some chin stroking and regarding the very professional looking picture that Mick has taken on his iPhone, I bearishly venture in with "£2,000 sounds a bit greedy for 50p.”

Mick concedes and pleased with our consensus on this important matter we agree that £1,800 is a fair starting price. Not too high and importantly not too low. Mick needs to make a few quid for his trouble.

Thus far my investment portfolio is not looking too clever.

On the positive side:

I have one shiny Brexit commemorating 50p.
A bit shabby on the Queen’s-side but Paddington in the foreground of St Paul’s.
Two Sherlock Holmes 50ps in quite nice nick.

By my moderate and reasonable reckoning, if I were to post this lot on e-bay, this has got to be worth £6,000. After all, Mick assures me that there is tremendous interest in his Brexit commemorating 50p, a snip at just £1,800. He assures me that lots and lots of people are looking at his coins very interestedly.

All it would take is that winning glint in Paddington’s eye and ker-ching!

But – and only since it’s you – if you want the lot for your own collection I will let you have them for a tenner.

Sonia Price is a freelance writer