Stormy Margate

Stormy Margate

Thursday, 29 July 2010

What do you do with pre Euro coins ?


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 ?

6 comments:

Michael Child said...

Tony I am pretty sure that some charities take them, they certainly did fairly recently.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Michael, I normally dump my surplus on the Red Cross.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating read. I've still got a jar of foreign shrapnel along the lines you describe. Probably weighs about a kilo, so if I get £20 for it that's at least a few drinks in the pub.

Tony Beachcomber said...

The trouble is trying to find the market for pure nickel coins in such a small quantity (see alibaba.com), The coins have a value but it is trying to find buyers on the internet.Local scrap yards take bronze coins at about £1.50 a kilo.
If some of your coins are legal still tender in their country of origin or still can be exchanged for euros, look up holiday money on ebay. It appears foreign legal tender coins sell well under the heading holiday money and in most cases people pay marginly over the official exchange rate. It is a lucrative market I can assure you,especially swiss and american coins.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Bis.org is the ideal site for finding central bank details

Dr Nelson said...

Thomas Exchange www.thomasexchange.co.uk can usually convert most old pre-Euro currencies, back into Sterling and they also convert some of the coins as well.

The best bet is to bring the notes/coins to their West End branch in London (near Oxford Circus tube Station), a guy called Paul is their obselete currency expert, they will then convert the notes/coins into Sterling cash.
Or, if you are based outside London, you can post the notes/coins to them and they can pay you by cheque (but ring/email in advance before you post).

t