Gold coin sales increase by 400%

Image caption,
The Royal Mint's £25 22-carat gold coin for the 2012 London Olympics

Sales of gold coins have soared by 400% so far this year compared with 2009, according to the Royal Mint.

With the price of gold hitting record levels, the Mint says commemorative coins are in strong demand.

Sales of silver coins have also risen, though by a comparatively modest 20%.

"In these days of economic uncertainty people look for something they can see as being a bit more secure," Dave Knight, director of commemorative coins at Royal Mint, told the BBC.

The price of gold, currently at about $1,400 an ounce, has consistently reached new highs during 2010 as investors have sought a haven amid economic turmoil.

Mr Knight said it was not part of his role to comment on whether gold is a good investment, but he added: "Gold coins are something that have been around a long time and people have a lot of confidence in them.

"We sell a lot to the big institutions, which are presumably for investment. But there's also a big growth in the desire to collect coins.

"These coins are works of art. And they are something that can last forever," he said.

Last week, a limited edition silver £5 coin commemorating musician John Lennon sold out in five days.

Mr Knight said that to sell the 5,000-coin issue in such a short space of time was "extraordinary".

Royal wedding

The sales growth is not confined to the UK.

The Royal Canadian Mint has said that sales of silver coins for 2010 are "very strong" and expects them to be at least 50% higher than in 2009.

A spokesman said: "We also do not anticipate a reduction in sales for 2011, and could see an increase.

The Royal Mint's next major issue is expected to be a £5 gold coin to commemorate next year's royal wedding.

It is thought that the coin has already been designed and is awaiting Buckingham Palace's approval.

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