The Royal Mint has released a series of limited-edition 50p coins to celebrate 40 years since the publication of Raymond Briggs’ children’s book The Snowman.
Two “proof” coins (those released early as samples) – one in 22 carat gold and one in sterling silver, costing £775 and £60 respectively – have already sold out, and one standard uncirculated coin costing £10 is awaiting stock, according to the Royal Mint website.
The coins show the Snowman flying over Brighton Pier arm in arm with James, with the bright city lights and stars captured in meticulous detail.
The sterling silver proof edition is the first British coin to feature a design entirely in colour, but with only 15,000 released, collectors were quick to get their hands on one. Only 400 gold coins were minted, while the standard nickel coin is unlimited, but will not enter circulation.
However, coin aficionados who missed out on the release can pick one up on eBay, if they are willing to pay over the odds. Limited edition coins like these often become collectors’ items, and sell for significantly more than their face value on auction sites such as eBay.
One savvy seller has listed a Snowman sterling silver proof coin which has attracted 27 bids and currently commands a price of £155. Another is selling one for £146.
But, as disclosed in previous instances involving collectible notes and coins, eBay sales records do not give conclusive proof that items have been sold for their listed price. Even listings marked as “sold” do not mean that the buyer has actually paid for the item.
The production of commemorative 50p coins released by the Royal Mint has increased significantly, according to Telegraph Money analysis. Eight new 50p coins were released between 2000 and 2009; since 2010, there have been 22, not including 29 variants of the 2012 Summer Olympics coins.
The coin maker has released more commemorative 50p pieces – which first appeared in 1973 to celebrate Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community – than any other denomination.
The Kew Gardens 50p, released in 2009 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens, is the rarest coin of any denomination currently in circulation. Because of this, owners of the coin can expect to sell it for up to £100 on eBay.