Above: Alan Demby outside one of his new UK Scoin Shops.

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And he argues that the slew of landmark events that have taken place in the UK this year support his belief that there is just as much potential for collecting today as there has even been.

In fact Alan Demby, founder of the Scoin Shop, says it has been the public reaction to the Diamond Jubilee set he has been offering that has prompted him to launch an historic coin division at his stores.

The Scoin Shop, which retails collectable and bullion coins from mints all around the world, has had stores in South Africa for the past decade and has launched in the Westfield shopping centre in West London, Westfield Stratford and Bluewater in Kent. Mr Demby believes that by opening stores in mainstream shopping centres he has a far better chance of raising the profile of collecting among the general public than other businesses.

He plans to roll Scoin Shops out around the UK to malls and airports and wants to "democratise buying gold" as a collectable item or investment item (in terms of bullion coins).

Coin Background

Manchester-born Mr Demby is an international coin dealer, bullion expert and gold coin entrepreneur who grew up in South Africa where he opened the first Scoin Shop in 1999, selling a range of collectable coins, medals and medallions, as well as bullion, with prices ranging from £100 to £70,000. He now has a further 30 outlets there as well as those he has just launched in the UK.

He believes that modern collectables could provide the means of access for a whole new generation of collectors, with them graduating to more traditional collecting areas as they progress. As an example, he points to coins he sold recently to commemorate the wedding of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, which retailed for £1750 and, nearly a year later, are making £3300 on the secondary market.

Mr Demby says business has also been boosted by the Diamond Jubilee, the (football) World Cup, London Olympics and Titanic centenary, all of which have seen special commemorative gold coins minted.

"We've reached a new direction of consumer interest not seen before, where it appears that sales of gold coins commemorating some of the UK's most recent major events, such as the Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding, are turning the attention of customers to historic, rare and valuable coins," he told ATG.

"It's almost as if these modern-day events, which people can closely identify with, are creating interest in historic coins which are predominantly higher in value because of their scarcity."

Fine Sovereigns

Meanwhile Mr Demby says that, outside the demand for South African items, the most sought-after coins at his shops are those dating to c.1840-1910, led by the 'Una and the Lion' - a gold £5 denomination Sovereign designed to commemorate the beginning of Queen Victoria's reign, widely considered one of the finest British coins ever struck.

As Richard Falkiner reported in ATGs No 2063 and 2066, examples of the Una and the Lion £5 sovereign sold at St James in London on October 1 for £22,000 and Kuenker in Osnabruck later in the month for €75,000 (£60,975).

Referring to his own sales, Mr Demby added: "The interest in the Una and the Lion coin was as a direct result of interest created from the Diamond Jubilee. It's a unique coin which commemorates Queen Victoria's birth.

"The depiction of the young Queen as Lady Una (a character from Edmund Spenser's poem The Faerie Queene, from 1590) was seen at the time as a bold design decision as it was the first occasion when a British monarch had been depicted on a coin as a fictional character. The same Latin inscription appears on the 2012 Royal Mint £5 Crown, minted to commemorate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee."