Look After The Pennies And …


Among the regular items I offer for sale online are annual sets of coins which, when assembled in the correct formation, show the Shield of the Royal Arms spread over standard UK coins from one penny to fifty pence.

This innovative new design was introduced in 2008 when the new system created by Matthew Dent replaced a series of former motifs which had graced UK coins since decimalisation in 1971. (See also my earlier post where I look at how this change has made the final examples of these earlier coins more attractive.)
Despite being made from, by definition, ordinary or standard UK coins in common circulation, these sets have been popular since I began to offer them online at the start of last year.
I offered these via eBay and from the start made sure these sales were visible to the site’s buyers in other countries because I assumed they would be of most interest to people who did not encounter them in their daily lives. Therefore I was surprised in June 2014 when the first set I offered; using coins from 1p to 50p issued the previous year; was bought for £1.60 by a man from England.
Over the following three months, a further three bidders in England paid £1.60 (plus postage) for the group of coins which have a face value of 88p.
By this stage I had been able to assemble similar Royal Shield sets from 2008 (the first year they were issued) and 2012 and was on the lookout for enough 2014 coins to put together similar examples from that year.
Interest in these sets meant that in November, instead of simply buying one of my 2013 sets for their opening bid of £1.60, the top bidder in my auction for such a set was able to buy an example for £2.75 while the man whose rival bids had pushed the price up to this level bought on a second chance offer for £2.55. Again both bidders were from the UK where the coins to put these together were in common circulation.
Then in December that year, the first 2014 set I was able to assemble went to the first overseas bidder when a Russian offered the £2.00 opening price.
Then as 2015 began, the floodgates opened as I was able to offer a regular supply of Royal Shield sets for 2008, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
The higher prices such sets had begun to achieve gave me the confidence to set £1.80 as my usual opening bid price and this was quickly rewarded with the sale of a 2012 and a 2013 set to buyers in England for this new price.
My decision to raise my starting price was soon reversed as sales dried up in January but a new starting price of £1.20 resulted in the sale of a 2012 and a 2014 set to a buyer in Athens in mid-February, while an Australian buyer secured another for £2.21.
The following month a canny Scotsman with an eye for a bargain snapped up another 2014 set for £1.20 , while a bidder in England secured another for £1.70 before I rounded the month off by selling my first 2008 set to the earlier Greek buyer, who also purchased a Kitchener “Your Country Needs You” WWI £2 coin, an Act of Union £2 coin and an oak and rose English floral emblem pound coin for a combined total of £9.20 (again plus postage).
Spurred on by these sales, the starting price returned to £1.80 and the sales continued with a further 17 sales of sets from various years to seven buyers in England, two in Scotland and others in Wales, Denmark, USA, Russia and another in Australia.
So in percentage terms I think I made a reasonable return but unfortunately making a 100 per cent profit on a few pence is never going to make me rich but this has been the clearest illustration I have ever seen of the sage advice, “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”.
I just need to find a way to get the same rate of return on one hundred pound notes.
During 2015 there were two varieties of standard UK coinage, meaning renewed interest in the Royal Shield sets; please return to see my later post on the higher prices I was able to achieve with these.

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