It’s not just cryptocurrency but investing in vintage coins too seems to have caught the fancy of Indians.
A rare vintage coin valued at ₹2 crore – the 1937 King Edward VIII Penny --- is going under the hammer on Showpiece.com beginning tomorrow.
The coin is believed to be the first piece of royal memorabilia to enter into fractional ownership, under which any individual can buy a share for just ₹5,000 (£50). While 4,000 shares of the coin are on offer, an individual’s ownership is capped at 10%. While fractional ownership has been around when it comes to investing in overseas shares, it will be interesting to see how the new investing approach gains ground in the field of numismatics. The current sale will end on March 31, or whenever the coin sells out.
Interestingly, the value of the coin -- weighing 9.36 grams and measuring 3.08cm – makes it 500 times more precious than gold on a gram for gram basis, and 20 million times more valuable than its own face value.
According to Dan Carter, co-founder of Showpiece.com, 55% of registered overseas interest for the coin has come from India. Of the over 3,000 people registered for the sale on March 8, 55% registrants have come from India, 28% from the US, and the remainder comprises those from Canada, Australia, Ireland and Russia. “While we knew the coin would be the subject of strong demand in the UK, we didn’t fully appreciate the level of interest we’d receive from India until we started looking more closely at our data,” adds Carter.
Like any other vintage coin, there is a tale behind the penny.
The Royal Mint scheduled the issue of the King Edward Penny for 8am on January 1, 1937 but the plan was abandoned when Edward abdicated the throne — and his Emperor of India title — on December 11, 1936 amid a deepening constitutional crisis over his relationship with American socialite Wallis Simpson. Following the abdication, the Duke of Windsor and his brother, George, succeeded him as King of the UK and the Emperor of India.
According to the auctioneer, a sample of the penny — known in numismatic circles as a “proof” — was already minted. A peculiarity in the coin’s design concerns Edward’s effigy which ought to have faced away from his predecessor George V who looked left. According to archivists at the Royal Mint, Edward fretted that the inclusion of his right side would break up an otherwise solid fringe of hair. He was insistent that his left side made for a more beguiling portrait. As per the Royal Mint’s files, Edward has asked for the penny but George blocked the request and, as a consequence, the penny never passed through the Royal Proclamation, that is, it was never deemed official.
The coin was first auctioned in 1978 for £25,000 before being sold again in 2019 for £133,000. The London-based coin dealers A. H. Baldwin & Sons, have valued the coin at £200,000, a spike of 50% in two-and-a-half years. The penny was later acquired by the collectables platform Showpiece.com.
While non-fungible tokens are making waves in the field of art and music, fractional ownership is making its presence felt when it comes to iconic collectables, for instance, an art work by Banksy and the £6.2million One Cent Magenta stamp.
Typically a trust is established for each item which is then split into fractions. Owners can vote to accept or decline future bids, which is paid out on a pro-rata basis. If an offer is made to purchase the whole underlying coin, all owners will receive a vote for each fraction they hold. If over 60% of the pieces voted are in favour of selling, net proceeds will go towards owners on a pro-rata basis, that is, in proportion to the number of pieces held.
The buyers will receive a legal documentation declaring the beneficial ownership, as well as a digital certificate indicating the number of pieces held. Though the price discovery will remain private for now, the auctioneer plans to start a marketplace before June 2022 to help collectors trade the shares of the coin among each other.