A Real Coin Thriller: Passion for Coins Leads to Murder

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By Leonie Schulze

March 7, 2019 – On August 22, 2018, the 52-year-old coin collector Gordon M. was found stabbed in his home in Colchester in the south-east of England. Now, the trial of the chief suspect Danny B., who stands charged with murder, has opened at Ipswich Crown Court. According to the charges presented by prosecutor Andrew Jackson, his motive was to get his hands on a collection of rare and much sought-after Beatrix Potter 50p coins.

In the summer of 2018, reports about the murder in Colchester were spread by the news.

Several news reports published after the first hearing offer a somewhat comprehensive rundown of the indictment. Mr. B., a passionate coin collector, is accused of having stabbed the victim 14 times. He then allegedly attempted to cause a gas explosion to destroy any possible evidence. When the victim was discovered, the gas switches in the kitchen were found opened and a lit towel had previously been placed in the hallway. Forensic scientists detected traces of blood on the suspect’s bike and said towel. The victim’s collection of Beatrix Potter coins is missing. The defendant is believed to have stolen it after killing him.

The BBC quotes one of the witnesses who reported that Mr. M. had previously presented the collection to Mr. B. at her apartment. She said the defendant showed great interest in the pieces and was even offered to pick a few of the duplicates and take them home. It now appears as though those generously gifted coins did not suffice.

We can assume the new 2018 Beatrix Potter coins were also part of the stolen collection.

The Beatrix Potter collection

The year 2016 marked 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter. She was the author of some of the most popular children’s tales in the UK. The Royal Mint decided to honor her legacy by creating a collection of 50p coins that includes many of Potter’s beloved characters. More designs were issued in 2017 and 2018. Since it was first published in 1902, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” has been a cherished story of children and parents alike. Additional characters were added to Potter’s portfolio in the years that followed.

The defendant Danny B. denies having murdered Gordon M. and having stolen his collection of 50p coins. The trial continues and is expected to close within a few weeks.

More information about the life and legacy of Beatrix Potter is available on the official Peter Rabbit website.

Unfortunately, homicides are not unheard of in coin trade and coin collecting. In 2016, a coin dealer in Chicago was killed by someone robbing his store. In early 2018, a 75-year-old coin collector was robbed and murdered in Indianapolis.