The Business of Money

The cost of making (new) cents.

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It’s not just the crown that’s changed over following Queen Elizabeth’s recent passing. Everything, from Britain’s mailboxes to its money, is getting a “royal makeover”, and it’s costing the UK a pretty penny pence.

Here’s a closer look at the business of giving money a (literal) facelift.

New bill, who dis?

Britain’s not the only country updating its bills now that King Charles is in charge. According to Guinness, the late Queen appears on a record 33 currencies! And, while this is uncharted territory for the UK – Elizabeth became the first, and only, monarch to appear on British bank notes in 1960 – luckily, other countries can offer a few tips.

In 2018, Canada released a new $10 featuring civil rights pioneer Viola Desmond—winning Bank Note of the Year (a real award, we swear). The US is also planning to put Harriet Tubman on the $20. Fiiiiinally.

But expect to see Queen E. on bills for the next few years, because of the cost of putting King C3 on an #irl C note.

The real cost of a dollar? 7.5 cents

The New York Times estimates that producing new coins to celebrate Charles’ reign could cost $600+ million. Canada’s limited-edition 150th anniversary $10 bill cost $5.7 million to design, test, and develop. And in the US, printing costs range from 7.5 cents per $1 bill to 17 cents for a hundred. (The penny, now retired, used to cost twice its face value to mint…) 

Of course, they say, you’ve gotta spend money to make money and, well, turns out this is literally true…

Paper or plastic?

When Canada switched to polymer bills, manufacturing costs jumped from $0.11 per bill to $0.20. Ultimately, the move paid for itself: the harder-to-counterfeit “plastic” money also lasts 2.5x longer.

The Queen will live on… as a meme coin 

The market for rare currency featuring the Queen skyrocketed after her death. Crypto got in on the action too, with 40+ new meme coins minted within 24 hours after the announcement of her death. Like most meme coins, the swings were wild: the Queen Elizabeth Inu jumped nearly 30,000% before the inevitable dump. Another coin saw $2.7 million worth in trade volume in under 12 hours. It’s the web3 equivalent of unlicensed Royals merch.