Bullion coins are some of the most sought-after coins in the world, often selling out and causing stock shortages at major national mints. So what do you get for your money? And why should you buy one?
Well the key reason most people purchase a bullion coin is the precious metal content. For example, the UK £2 Britannia coin contains an ounce of pure 999/1000 silver. Soon enough one coin turns into many and you can find yourself owning a sizeable amount of silver.
But these coins are not just lumps of metal. The silver Britannia is also a real piece of craftsmanship, with a beautifully evocative design struck with all the expertise of the Royal Mint.
Combine this craftsmanship with the silver content and you start to see just why this coin is so collectable.
But why is this any different from a silver bar, or a silver round?
UK bullion coins carry the authority and security of being a government issued coin. There is never any debate about their purity or integrity. In fact they are checked every year at a 734 year old ceremony called the Trial of the Pyx. You can buy one safely in the knowledge that you are getting what you pay for.
This also explains why bullion coins sometimes appear to have a ‘misleading’ face value. The Britannia is a £2 coin, but the silver content is worth much more than that. The truth is the face value is really there to legitimise the coin and prove that it is an official state-authorised issue.
And legal tender British bullion coins have a final bonus – they will never incur any Capital Gains Tax. This makes them the perfect way to pass down silver through the generations.
But you will have to pay VAT. And as with any struck coin, you will have to pay a small premium over the raw metal value to cover production costs. At the time of writing, raw silver is trading at around £10.50 an ounce, but you’d be hard pressed to find a way of buying a single ounce at that price.
Bullion coins facilitate an easy entry into the world of owning silver and coins. They are not about face value or edition limit, but you can still have the satisfaction of securing a collection of genuine, bona fide UK coins – at as close to the raw silver price as you are likely to get.
Top Tips for buying silver bullion coins:
- Pick a country with a strong tradition of issuing bullion coins
- Expect to pay a small premium over the intrinsic silver value
- Remember the face value of your chosen coin is not related to its value
- Buy British silver bullion coins and there’s no Capital Gains Tax to pay
2015 is set to be something of a momentous year for coin collectors, with five significant anniversaries to be commemorated next year. They are:
£2 – The 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta
2015 marks 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta – an agreement which forced King John to abide by the ancient laws and customs by which England had previously been governed. Literally translated as “Great Charter” it laid the foundations for modern democracy and the rights of English citizens. In fact, it is still cited in many legal cases to this day.
Perhaps surprisingly, this will be the first time that the Battle of Britain is commemorated on a United Kingdom coin. In the summer of 1940, Nazi Germany was advancing through Europe, but their failure to gain air superiority over the RAF in Britain was ultimately one of the turning points of the war.
£2 – 100th Anniversary of the First World War – Royal Navy
The second design in the series of First World War £2 coins pays tribute to the role of the Royal Navy. At the time, it was by far the most powerful navy in the world and was a major asset to Britain in defending coastal waters against the Germans.
Also making its debut on United Kingdom coinage for 2015 is the Battle of Waterloo. Fought by the Duke of Wellington and his allied armies against Napoleon Bonaparte of France in 1815, it was a defining moment in European history – ending 20 years of conflict in the continent.
£5 – 50th Anniversary of the Death of Winston Churchill
There are few Britons more worthy of commemoration than the wartime Prime Minister himself, Sir Winston Churchill. Following his death in 1965 he became the first person outside of the Royal family to be commemorated on a coin, and now, fifty years on, he is being honoured again on a new £5 coin.
Next year the Queen is due to become the longest reigning monarch in British history, and there will soon be a new portrait on our coins to honour her. With the final appearance of the long-standing effigy of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS and five very noteworthy anniversaries, it already looks like 2015 will be a truly landmark year for coin collectors.
I expect that, like me, you were brought up to “check your change”. But it has never meant more than now.
Last year, the Royal Mint launched twenty-nine 50p coins into circulation, one for each of the Olympic disciplines. The result: a nation suddenly keen to check the coins in their pocket, hoping to build a complete collection.
In 20 years in the coin business, it was the very first time I had seen people of all ages genuinely interested by the coins in their change.
But the story should not stop with the Olympic 50p coins.
In fact the Royal Mint has been varying £1 coin designs since the coin was very first issued 30 years ago. Remarkably the 50p first saw a commemorative design in 1973, before they became a regular feature of the UK’s coinage during the 1990s. Similarly, £2 coins were used for commemorative coins as early as 1986, well before the current bi-metallic coin, which went into circulation in 1997, with its first commemorative design being released in 1999 for the Rugby World Cup.
The only collection that will cost you nothing
Of course the joy of change collecting is that it is totally free. Simply keep an eye on the coins in your change and very quickly you’ll own an historic collection of some the UK’s finest coin designs.
But now it is even easier to collect the coins in your pocket with the launch of www.changechecker.org. This completely FREE site is available for mobiles, tablets and PC to help you collect your pocket change wherever you are.
Simply identify your coin by denomination and year to keep track of whether you already own it or not. Plus, if it’s a spare, you can quickly and easily find someone to swap your coin with. All without spending a penny (or any other denomination come to that).
Discover more about Change Checker with your 60 second guide.