While most people, if they even noticed it, would be annoyed if one of the coins in their change at the supermarket was damaged, I was delighted this week when I noticed two scoops out of the rim of a 10p coin in my change.
Instead of being irritated at the sight of a coin with not one, but two, flaws on its edge among those that tumbled out from the self-checkout machine at Tesco this week, I was thrilled to find a genuine “clipped planchet” for the first time.
A quick examination confirmed this did not appear to be a coin damaged after leaving The Royal Mint but had clearly been struck on a part of a metal sheet overlapping the void where two other coins had earlier been stamped out.
This mistake occurred in 2010 but since then this coin has been circulating without encountering anyone who recognised that to some its true value would be far higher than the ten pence stated on its face.
I am sure that, before I began to educate myself about the types of coin which can be worth more than their face value, I have encountered similarly flawed coins in the past and merely thought myself clever by finding a vending machine which would accept them.
However now I know how wrong this reaction was (just as it had been when I was initially suspicious and made sure I quickly handed over the first two Kew Gardens 50p coins I encountered by chance before I knew of their full worth – see an earlier post!)
That is why I was keen to discover more about this new class of collectable. Like anyone who follows the online market in coins, I had of course seen the premium paid for coins with a “clipped” edge so thankfully was alert when one came my way.
I was also able to see the absence of any stress marks on the surrounding design which would have indicated the coin had been altered after being struck. This is why I was confident I am dealing with a genuine “mule” – that is a mint error which was not detected before being released into circulation.
So I took a variety of pictures with my mobile phone and put the mule up for auction on eBay this week when I was offered 100 free listings. As this free listing offer ran out on Tuesday, I made this a five-day auction so it would conclude on Sunday afternoon, a time when most potential bidders are
likely to be able to make the type of last-minute bid which allows a bidding war to reach higher sale prices. (Another fact my research dug up was that the raised edge around a coin is known as the “planchet”!)
Unsure of the true market value for such a “mule”, I started the bidding at £1.50, as this is the sum I’d recently achieved for a 2008 example of the final release of Christopher Ironside’s Lion Passant 10p coin before this design was replaced with the new standard Royal Shield of Arms suite of coins, where the complete image is made from all coins from 1p to 50p.
Although I was intrigued to find this kind of mint error, I had not idea if this would be shared by the collectors who are my customers but I needn’t have worried because I was still awake just after 2am on Wednesday morning when my mobile chimed to let me know someone had placed a bid on my auction.
Reassuringly, this initial bidder seems to be a fellow seller so, unless he is a collector who funds his hobby through buying and selling, it seems that the opening bid price is low enough for a him to anticipate a profit.
I can only wait and see – the sale finishes in three days this weekend. I’ll update you on the result later …