About them commemorative coins

You know the things, “crowns” (which are now £5, not 5 s.) that are issued for Royal Weddings and the like. Turns out they’re not worth quite what they seem to be:

When Pat and John Owers wanted to deposit five £5 coins, Lloyds bank refused to accept them – because although “legal tender”, the money was in the form of commemorative coins.

Staff at the Owers’ local bank branch in Barking, Essex, turned away the money. They offered no advice about where it could be exchanged or spent.

Such coins are produced by the Royal Mint as souvenirs of royal occasions like births, weddings and anniversaries, and are bought in their millions – and often given to children or other family members as keepsakes. Because they are produced in limited quantities and for a certain period, they are often initially sold for more than their face value. Over time, their value changes according to demand from other collectors.

But most owners do expect to be able to realise at least the face value of the money at any time.

Me being me, contrary that is, when I still lived in England I had a set routine when one of the new issues came out. The banks would usually offer them at face value in the early weeks of their existence. So I’d go and get my usual £50 or £100 in booze and food cash in the form of the new coins. And then spend them in the shops. One the basis that since they were legal tender why not treat them as such?

Usually a coin is worth more when mint than when circulated. But that does rather depend upon supply and demand. And I have a feeling that so few of these coins have ever circulated that those that have might be worth more than mint ones….not, their having been put into circulation by me I still have them to check that. Bit like that Edward Heath book on sailing: one that’s not signed by him is worth more than one that is, so large a percentage of them having been autographed.

11 comments on “About them commemorative coins

  1. Can only think that the branch is assuming that if it accepts these coins, it won’t be able to offload them to other branch customers.

    That being the case, for Lloyds to get it’s £25 back in a usable form, it’ll have to offload the coins on the BoE, which has no choice but to accept legal tender, but at a cost for making the transaction.

  2. There’s one organisation obliged to accept “legal tender”, by definition. HMRC.

  3. We have been receiving so many of these coins that we actually pay less than face value. Same with shillings and crowns not made of silver, pound notes etc. We will eventually get round to taking them to the old lady of threadneedle, but quite happy to accumulate below face; probably got a few grands worth at present.

    Just this week, i had a guy offer 400 X £5 coins, i did ask how he could be so stupid to have bought so many, and it turns out to have been a marketing scam by one of the “as seen on TV” companies.

  4. At the rate prices are increasing in the UK surely it’s time to issue a £5 coin into general circulation. Every time I’m over there I’m shocked at how little you can get for a fiver.

  5. Legal tender is specie and banknotes that can be tendered, legally, for the discharge of debt e.g. a tax bill. Colloquially, it’s essentially what would be regarded as ‘cash’. So credit cards, postal orders and bin bags full of milk bottle tops are not legal tender, even if they are acceptable as forms of payment, while £5 coins are legal tender, even if they are not acceptable as means of payment. There’s often a limit on how much of a particular coin can be considered legal tender. In the UK for coppers it’s only 20p, and for 5p/10p it’s £5. That does not mean that someone is obliged to accept payment in the form of legal tender. Some businesses may have policies on not accepting cash, for example, and they are quite within their rights.

  6. I thought a creditor had to accept legal tender as a payment for a debt so if the bank won’t accept the £5 coins as a deposit would they have to accept them as a debt payment?

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