The Beatles Move Into Collectible Coins

Over the years I have run a series of articles about how The Beatles can solve your Christmas gift giving dilemmas. It seems the four Liverpudlians can still do so, year round. The Beatles’ landmark 1968 animated movie masterpiece, Yellow Submarine, is being honored with a series of authentic, legal-tender collectible coins by Scottsdale, Ariz. company The Crown Mint.

I had a chat with Steven Harris, a principal at Crown Mint. His company has been in business since 2008, initially as a design shop. The company started making packaging for coins, and eventually realized the company should evolve into making the coins, “As we could do it better.”

Once the company made that pivot, they shifted again. After exclusively selling on a wholesale basis, they switched gears to nearly all retail, launching as Crown Mint. Harris explained that their product was lost on other retailer sites, so the idea was to go it alone and straight to the consumer.

I probed further about the company’s pivots, and Harris revealed that many retailers admitted that their database was dying. They had the existential question “where is the market going?” The product (coin collecting) does not speak to a younger clientele.

Indeed, no one is using coins, nobody these days has 82 cents in their pocket.

Crown Mint’s scrutiny of the marketplace started with Star Wars, then into Marvel. Harris indicated his company was competing with governments on coins, “once we started with licensing everyone got on the bandwagon.”

“Maybe folks have never collected the coins, this would be a way in,” observed Harris about his licensing endeavors. “with our past success, I always wondered how we could get The Beatles.”

Apple Corps had said ‘no’ many times to others with a similar idea, so instead of a round coin Harris said, “our shape and packaging was so different and compelling.”

What Harris looks for is a brand that withstands the test of time. 

As a kid Harris devoured Marvel comic books, and it seemed like a logical first move. “Older folks remember the comic books, younger kids devour the films,” Harris continued. “We won’t do a coin unless we like the brand. We have been approached by a lot of folks. So far our guesses have been pretty good.”

I asked what it means for the items to be considered legal tender. “It could be used as legal tender, but it would be silly to do so.” In other words, the face value of the coin is so much lower than the value of the metal inside. You wouldn’t want to spend the designated one dollar denomination on a candy bar if the value of the metal inside was worth $20. Hence, the coins are considered “non-circulating legal tender.”

I asked what the future holds for Crown Mint. “We have more Beatles products in the pipeline, and some more bands in discussion. Look for animated characters.”

My prediction is that more than 82% of buyers won’t be keeping these Yellow Submarine coins in their pocket.

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.