Letter from Mr John Whitmore to the General
Secretary of the British Numismatic Trade Association
You sent a note about "the work and future
status" of the Royal Mint.
The manufacture of coins is an industrial process,
and the Royal Mint has had no monopoly of the metal-bashing aspect
of even the British coinage for over two hundred years, so it
would be difficult to argue against privatisation of this part,
especially as there is so little precious metal involved now.
The design and issue of new coins would have
to remain under the control of the Crown through the Treasury
whatever else might change, and it might be desirable in order
to ensure that present standards are maintained to keep the relatively
small number of engravers and other staff engaged in the production
of models and working dies.
The activities of the direct selling department
have always created mixed feelings among the BNTA membership,
but I cannot imagine there would be significant differences if
privatised, in fact it might then be obliged to compete with other
dealers on a level playing field.
There might be an opportunity on a reappraisal
of Treasury and Mint relationships to revive regular issues of
circulating sterling silver crowns at a face value of £5
or £10, something we have not had since 1902, and which appears
to be impossible under the present arrangements.
One part of the present organisation that I
feel must be preserved through public funding and control is the
Mint Museum. This provides collectors, dealers, and other museums
with a service that is unique and indispensable. This is because
it is able to answer numismatic problems by reference to both
its historical records and the expertise of the current engraving
and design staff. It could not function as it does if it were
to be hived off to another museum, even the British.