The forthcoming Paddington Bear 50p has been in the news lately after seemingly appearing in circulation before it’s official release date. This seems to have excited some eBay users and tabloids.
Jim H was also perplexed and wrote to me today asking what on earth was going on. This is the text of his email and my reply:
Hi, i am very confused and a little perplexed to say the least over this new coin's so called "Premature Release" onto the UK market recently!!!!! I note that several sellers are asking in the region of upwards of £500 for a circulated coin???, yet, a Royal mint sealed, uncirculated presentation pack only sells today for £52!!!! What's stopping someone buying the latter and selling it as the former, or are they not the same coin, a scam sell, or am I missing a trick here? Many thanks for any answer in advance. Jim H
I think basically the eBay prices are completely fictitious – they are either utopian asking prices or people are bidding them up for fun with no intention of paying. Who would be mad enough to pay hundreds of pounds (or more) for a coin that will be released in a few days, and will be available for around £10 in BU pack form and in fact the silver proof version for about £60 is already available in some post office branches. In fact, perhaps some of the non-coloured coins that were on their way to Post Offices are the ones that have escaped into circulation.
They will all be the same coin, in fact if the ones found ‘in the wild’ so far are circulation quality then the versions they will sell in packs will be of better quality. The coins in the pictures I have seen seem to be pretty good quality, so perhaps they were originally coins in BU packs, on their way to Post Offices, as mentioned above.
And every time this happens the tabloids pick up on it and make a big pointless song and dance out of it, just like they did for the AK47 new £5 notes and other coins/notes in recent years. Who knows, they may even bid the items high themselves in order to make a story out of it and with no intention of paying! I suppose they think it must sell papers or get them more clicks, when really anyone with a couple of brain cells can usually see through it as complete nonsense.
Sometimes when inexpensive things appear to sell for big money on eBay there is money laundering involved or who knows what other criminal activities it may facilitate.
It is nonsense though, within a couple of weeks the only ones that sell will be at prices around a few quid.
The Check Your Change admin is Mr C H Perkins, publisher of numismatic publications in printed and eBook format. Author of "Collectors' Coins - Decimal Issues of the UK" and other books on British coins and related subjects.