The Royal Mint is releasing a new £2 coin commemorating Jane Austen's life. The coins will be released on a limited basis on the anniversary of Austen's death on 18 July, in locations with connections to Austen - such as Winchester and Basingstoke. But are they worth collecting?
The coins feature a silhouette of the author, set in a period frame against a backdrop of Regency wallpaper. It is timed for release just before the Jane Austen ten pound coins goes into circulation. It's bound to be popular. The question is whether it will be deemed collectible - and therefore worth significantly more than £2.
The downside for anyone hoping to make money from the coins is that they are likely to be fairly widely circulated. After the initial limited release, there will be a wider release across the country. The Royal Mint has yet to reveal how many of the coins are likely to be minted, but given the wide release of coins featuring the likes of Florence Nightingale and Charles Dickens, there's a good chance that it will never be terribly rare.
The upside, however, is that the popularity of the author may mean it's worth more than its face value anyway. The Jane Austen Society has branches across the world, and endless devotees, who will be keen to get hold of these coins, and keep them at home rather than spending them - reducing the number in wider circulation.
This will still leave an enormous number in people's change, but this doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't have value as a collector's item. Take the Dickens £2 coin. It may not be considered particularly rare, and it may have been issued in large numbers, but it's popular enough for collectors to want to get their hands on it without having to wait for chance to bring one in their change, and have been known to sell for around £8.
The real money for collectors, however, may lie in the commemorative coins issued alongside the ones on general release. They're not cheap. There's a silver proof coin for £67.50, a silver piedfort coin for £110, and most eye-wateringly of all, a gold proof coin for £830. However, there's every sign that these will become real collectors' items.
The coins are being sold in smaller numbers than usual. There will, for example, be just 5,000 of the silver ones - compared to 7,500 for the most recent run. The reduction, plus the popularity of Austen herself, means there's a decent chance these will sell out, which will immediately create a scarcity that pushes up the value.
In the past, sold out coins have been sold on for a much higher price. Most notably the Peter Rabbit silver proof 50p from 2016 sold out, and dealers are now pricing theirs at up to £700.
However, before anyone invests, it's worth bearing in mind that there's no guarantee it will sell out - just as there's no certainty that the value will rise significantly after it sells out. There's always the chance that you struggle to sell, and it's never worth a penny more than you paid for it.
As always when it comes to collectibles, these sorts of things are only worth buying as something you get value from owning - not for the resale value. If somehow it ends up being a decent investment, than that's simply a lucky bonus.