Royal Mint in Penny Theft at 2010 World Money Fair in Berlin
Sneak thieves stole a bag of 2,000 newly mint 2010 new pennies from the Royal Mint's stand at the World Money Fair this year, spoiling the 'passport collection' for many visitors.
Each year, the fair organisers issue a limited number of "passport collection" kits. This consists of an album and a corresponding "passport" book. Although we have never studied one in detail, we believe the album carries the World Money Fair logo and the year. Visitors can buy the kit for €10, and then visit each of the 30 or so participating mints or dealers to collect a "free" coin, and have their passbook stamped. The Mints benefit by attracting visitors to their stands, and collectors, including many children, get the pleasure of a kind of treasure hunt finding each stand. There is often a queue at participating stands, especially at peak periods.
This year the issue limit was, we believe, 1,500 passports, and most of these were sold, meaning that well over one thousand collectors were disappointed.
We heard about this from the Royal Mint. While we were chatting to them on their exhibition stand on the first day, we heard them telling expectant collectors that the bag of coins had been stolen from their stand overnight, and to come back the next day. Although there is a "security room" with a minumum charge of €50 per night excluding insurance, many dealers choose to leave some of their stock and display material on their stands overnight (there can be a lengthy queue each morning and evening to deposit and collect goods). There is supposed to be some overnight security, so it is not unreasonable to leave some goods unguarded.
Some may think that the Mint were careless or negligent in leaving the pennies, but it is quite understandable.
Mañana - Tomorrow!
The Royal Mint arranged for a replacement bag of pennies to be shipped out to Berlin on a next day (Saturday) delivery. Apparently, these arrived in Germany, but due to snow and freezing weather, these failed to arrive on the Saturday or Sunday, leaving all the passport collectors with a hole in their collection.
The last we heard is that the Royal Mint and the World Money Fair organisers had arranged to collect addresses of all disappointed collectors, and mail their missing coin to them. Obviously, some collectors would not have found out about this, or been missed out. We hope they were not too disappointed.
For the Royal Mint and the WMF organisers, it was an expensive exercise. Collecting each name and address, and packing each coin, takes time, and costs money in packing materials and postage. We reckon each mailed penny must have cost a pound in time and expenses.
What's the betting that next year the Mint will keep the pennies more secure?
Strangely enough, we have seen and heard nothing about this in the numismatic news press. We guess that the Mint have kept quiet about it, perhaps because they feel embarrassed about the security breech, and the WMF organisers also appear to have kept quiet, presumably for the same reason.
Obverse of 2010 One Penny
Reverse of 2010 One Penny
One Penny Royal Mint Bag