Almost every Brit who has travelled abroad has brought back foreign coins as small change because they cannot be exchanged or there is simply not enough to by a drink at the bar before going home. The same applied to the Sally Ferry days with most people saving small change (French and Belgium francs) that cannot be exchanged, so they were saved maybe to spend on the next trip. With the demise of Sally Ferries and the French Franc being converted to Euros this has left a lot of French Francs this side of the Channel in drawers, boxes and tins etc.,
I see this all the time at auction whenever there are bulk lots of coins up for auction, French, Dutch,Belgium, Spanish and German pre Euro coins all up for sale, that have been accumulated by travellers and have nowhere to go. In many cases the face value of the coins before they become obsolete when calculated is staggering had they been exchanged or spent at the time. Unfortunately today pre euro coins cannot be spent in their home countries. However, there are some European pre euro coins that can still be exchanged for Euros if sent to the relevant central bank of countires who will exchange them for Euros, depositing a payment in Euros to your account. I know German, Irish,Italian,Spanish and Austrian coins can still be cashed for Euros and it would be ideal to search on the relevant countries Central Bank site for details. It can be done because I have done it and I must add the service from the German Bundesbank is first class.
It is unfortunate that the majority of European Union countries no longer exchange pre Euro coins for Euros. Bearing in mind that many of the modern pre Euro issues have no collector value the next stage is to sell them as scrap. When the European Union went over the the Euro the central banks ended up with hundreds of thousands of tonnes of coins in their vaults. As Euro coins were made of alloys that excluded Nickel, this meant that most of the returned coins could not be recycled into Euros. Countries like France and the Netherlands for example minted coins in pure nickel, others minted coins in cupro nickel and all produced coins in various alloys of Bronze which also could not be used
The first decade of this millennium saw a dramatic rise in commodities due to demand from Chinese industry. This led to a demand in the secondary metals market leaving the obsolete pre euro coins as a valuable asset. China bought thousands of tonnes of French 1/2, 1, 2, and 5 franc coins for its stainless steel production which at one point pushed the value of nickel up to $35,000 a tonne a few years back . So there is every chance that the stainless steel cutlery for sale in Wilkinsons could contain recycled French francs or Dutch Guilders.
At the time of writing the price of nickel is $20,312 a tonne or $20 a kilo which gives some indication how much value there is in scrap coins. Based on that figure I reckon if every foreign coin surplus to requirements in Thanet was to be accumulated it would certainly represent a tidy sum. Food for thought ?