How much money do you think gets cremated over the course of a year? I can’t say a definitive amount, nor can anybody else who works in this industry either. However, what I can say is the total must be a lot. When cremulating cremated remains we often find different coins. It’s always fun trying to decipher what they once were. The 1ps and 2ps are the easiest to distinguish because of their colour and they are made up of copper – plated steel so tend to retain their shape. By shape, size and colour you usually can distinguish which coin was which. Every now and again you’ll get a curve ball, foreign currency will be in there and you haven’t got a clue what it was or where it came from.
Talking of curve balls. With the old £1 coin the fire would have distorted them and chipped away at parts but you could always see what it had been. Then last month we got the strangest of things out of the cremator, it was perfectly round like a coin but with the inside missing. A full minute of our lives was spent looking at it from different angles.
“there’s some writing on it.”
“what does it say?”
“hold on…O.N.E.P.O.U.N it’s a pound coin!”
Indeed it was a £1 coin. The new one. The first one we had raked out of our cremator. The middle part of the new one pound coin had melted into some other unrecognisable ball of metal, never to be seen again, but the outer ring had remained. When they told us these one pound coins would be harder to clone they weren’t wrong. I suppose if a cremator can’t change its shape, I guess it must stand up against the people who want to replicate it illegally. That said, a few have since come out of the cremator without its robust round shape so that’s not always the case either. Different heats at different times of the day will have different effects on metal. And truthfully that’s all coins are, metal. For this reason, they are put into the recycling scheme and sent away to be recycled into something new. I guess money really does make the world go around.
So how much do we see on a daily basis removed from the cremator, burnt and charred? I hazard a good guess at about £2 a day , 253 working days in a year, that’s £506 approximately in a year in coins at just our crematorium alone. I can’t guess at the amount people put in the cremators in notes because not even the new polymer £5 notes can withstand that sort of heat.
I would love to conclude with how the Royal Mint/Bank of England account for these coins lost when they have been cremated with the deceased. But they didn’t respond to my tweet, I won’t hold it against them, I’m sure they have more important things to be getting on with so I can’t provide you with that information. If they do respond I will be sure to put this on here. Update: The Bank of England said they don’t account for every bank note lost or destroyed but they print based on demand for new bank notes.
Interesting fact to end on, did you know that it isn’t illegal to burn money? However, it is illegal to deface money. So providing no one has drawn a moustache on the Queen prior to sending a new crisp note in with their loved one then they haven’t done anything wrong (according to the Currency and Bank Notes act 1928). Phew, because I thought I was about to get a whole heap of people into trouble with this post.
Take a look at the cremated pound coins mentioned in this post
- The outside ring of the new £1 coin
- A very burnt new £1 coin
- The old £1 coin alongside the new £1 (can you make out the Queens head?)