Games coins a golden opportunity for collectors
With just 300 days until the opening of the 2012 London Olympics, 63 different types of commemorative coins went on sale in Hong Kong yesterday.
Designed and made by Britain's Royal Mint, it is estimated sales of the coins will fetch up to GBP100 million (HK$1.23 billion) worldwide.
Mint head of sales Jonathan Cockroft said GBP50 million worth of the coins had already been sold.
The collection has four series - a gold and silver countdown series, with one being released every year from 2009 to 2012; a gold series targeting serious collectors and gold investors depicting Roman mythological gods to illustrate the theme of 'faster, higher, stronger'; a silver series depicting the mind, body and spirit of Britain; and the most popular, a series of 50-pence coins depicting each of the 29 Olympic sports.
The silver and gold series were designed by the Royal Mint, while the 50-pence series came from designs submitted by the public. The most popular and iconic coin has been one for athletics designed by an eight-year-old girl.
The 50-pence coins are now in circulation in Britain.
Cockroft said 3 per cent of proceeds would go to the Hong Kong Olympic Committee and the rest to the IOC.
He said Hong Kong had seen brisk pre-sales of the coins. The collection was released on the mainland six weeks ago.
'The Beijing Games coin programme was probably the most successful one in the history of the Olympics,' Cockroft said in Hong Kong. 'But the London coin programme will probably be two times the size of that.
'Most of the Beijing coin designs were classic. A lot of the coins for London are contemporary in design, and that's in keeping with the fresh image and to appeal to young people.'
Josephine Cheung Wa-mei, from International Coins Limited, is one of two appointed distributors.
'Hong Kong collectors feel a sentimental attachment to Britain because of our colonial past. We have distributed coins of the royal wedding and the Jubilee, and they have always been very popular,' she said.
She said the soaring price of gold would encourage collectors to buy the gold series. A full set costs HK$38,500.
The number of special 50p coins in circulation in Britain
The modern Olympics got its first commemorative coins in 1951