After a long run of Beatrix Potter coins, the Royal Mint added another iconic British children’s character to its repertoire last year with a pair of coins celebrating the 60th birthday of Paddington Bear. Sticking with the heptagonal fifty pence coin, this seems to be the mints format of choice for coins like this. As one of the smallest and thus cheapest coin sizes they produce, it makes sense we suppose, but more on that later.
Like 2018’s Paddington Station and Buckingham Palace designs, the 2019 pair use very well recognised London landmarks for the backdrop to the bears adventures. St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London are known worldwide, so make perfect sense for inclusion. The artistic style is very familiar, and anyone who has purchased one or both of last years coins will know what to expect.
The proof silver coins have a colour application that highlights the character, while leaving the background clean. As these are directed more at the casual collector, that’s a sensible decision. We understand a lot of diehard coin collectors prefer their coins unmodified, as do I to be honest, but colour sells, as was pointed out to us by the Austrian Mint, who saw sales skyrocket when they embraced it. A gold variant sits alongside the silver, and remains cleanly struck. As regular readers know, we’re not fans of colour on gold coins – it rarely looks right in our eyes. The obverse of all versions is the bog standard Jody Clark effigy of Queen Liz with the bog standard inscriptions surrounding it. The Royal Mint just doesn’t really do fancy obverses…
Packaging is as decent as ever. The gold is in the polished wooden box that they use constantly, but the silver gets the attractive clear acrylic block frame to hold it. We’re huge fans of those. We’ve not seen confirmation of a Post Office version, but that one eschews the clear frame for a standard black box, yet costs over £20 more. Avoid like the plague in our opinion, especially as we’ve seen last years coins packaged like this discounted down in our local one.
So, a neat enough pair of coins that fans of Paddington will like and non-fans of the twee bear will ignore. Unfortunately, the big grizzly in the room is price. We complain every time the mint releases coins like this, that the prices have risen. There’s a reason for that – the prices keep rising. Now we’re fully aware that gold has finally livened itself up and started heading in he right direction, so a further rise to £850 is only to be expected (gold is actually up a staggering £325/oz on 12 months ago), but we’re less inclined to give the silver a free pass given the £3/oz rise on last August equates to only 75p for the metal in the coin, yet it’s jumped almost seven times that, and was hugely overpriced previously. Given what European mints like the Monnaie de Paris are charging (41g coloured silver coin for €63, for example), that’s a big ask. As we said earlier, last years coins are available discounted, so our advice would be to not pay extra for one of these like many did on auction sites last year. The silver mintage has halved, but that doesn’t mean demand will rise. Available today.