With the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games now less than three weeks away, a Royal Mint audit has revealed that the London 2012 50p coins currently in circulation are already being collected by the public in their millions.
This would make them the most popular commemorative circulated coins in the United Kingdom since decimalisation in 1971, surpassing the Victoria Cross 50p coin issued in 2006 that saw nearly 50% disappear from circulation.
The 50p coins celebrate the 29 different Olympic and Paralympic events, with the reverse of each being designed by a member of the public following a competition held by The Royal Mint in 2010 that saw 30,000 designs submitted. Notable among them is the football coin, featuring a design that attempts to explain the offside rule, which we reported on early in the year and was the subject of widespread media interest.
The Royal Mint would normally expect up to 3% of new 50p coins released into circulation to be lost or removed by collectors. It is therefore quite staggering when you consider they foresee over 70%, or around £10m worth of the Olympic and Paralympic 50p coins to be taken out of circulation by collectors. With this in mind, it is easy to see how collectable the sterling silver versions of these coins will prove to be with mintages of only 30,000 each.