The Coin Age


We draw near the end of an era for a phenomenon that has existed across many cultures and several millennia – physical money. It will probably go the same way as bartering, a.k.a. taking a goat or handy driftwood out into a snowstorm to trade for vital medical attention and risk being laughed at by mounted Cossacks on the way, in favour of the much more secure electronic means such as cards and internet banking.

A Cossack with his Laughter Pole

However, coins do still exist at present and can be validly used for absurd studies for the moment and so I decided to take advantage of this fact.

We’ve all experienced the unparalleled thrill of finding lost coins on the ground, which tends to happen a lot in the UK due to the perseverance of the relatively worthless one and two pence piece. My question is this: Is it possible to realistically achieve minimum wage by looking for coins?

There are way too many factors for this to be taken seriously, but I’ll give it a go anyway, looking at value, volume and weight and determining frequencies. The process is such that I’ll look at the specifications of each coin and determine how likely it is to be ‘lost.’ Then compare the UK and Australia currency systems. As such, I assume a heavier, larger or more valuable coin is more likely to be retained and this is placed in proportion to the weight, volume, and value of the other coins. For instance I assume that a 2p coin will be twice as rare to find as a 1p, a 5p five times, etc.


Minimum Wage: £6.08 

One pence coin:Value: 1p Weight: 3.56g Volume: 518.36mm^3

Two pence coin:Value: 2p Weight: 7.12g Volume: 1069.51mm^3

Five pence coin:Value: 5p Weight: 3.25g Volume: 480.95mm^3

Ten pence coin: Value: 10p Weight: 6.5g Volume: 872.16mm^3

Twenty pence coin: Value: 20p Weight: 5g Volume: 672.30mm^3
Fifty pence coin: Value: 50p Weight: 8g Volume: 1085mm^3  (Approximate Volume)

One Pound coin: Value: 100p Weight: 9.5g Volume: 1252.46mm^3

Two Pound coin: Value: 200p Weight: 12g Volume: 1583.68mm^3

So percentage-ing against the total Values (388p), Weights (54.93g) and Volumes (7534.42mm^3) and averaging physical attributes (Weight and Volume), then averaging that average and value, and then weighting them relative to the One Pence Coin, blah blah blah, then we can come up with the following statistics for “lose-ability.”

Frequency of Losing Coins in the UK

So the £6.08 minimum wage would most likely be made up of something like: 151 One Pence coins, 37 Two Pence Coins, 28 Five Pence Coins, 7 Ten Pence Coins, 4 Twenty Pence Coins, 2 Fifty Pence Coins, and a Pound. 230 coins. All in an hour and seven times a day.

This seems unlikely. If you assume there’s a coin on every 100m stretch of street in any given inner-city area for instance, that’s 23 kilometres to cover per hour. I guess if you cycled and had good reflexes and eyesight you might manage… But it works out to one coin every 15.65 seconds.

The Australia

Australia has a much higher minimum wage of $15.96 but fewer coins and smaller, more lose-able valuable coins, thus improving your chances.

Five cent coin: Value: 5c Weight: 2.83g Volume: 384.67mm^3

Ten cent coin: Value: 10c Weight: 5.65g Volume: 874.87mm^3

Twenty cent coin: Value: 20c Weight: 11.3g Volume: 1597.09mm^3

Fifty cent coin: Value: 50c Weight: 15.55g Volume: 2338mm^3

One Dollar coin: Value: 100c Weight: 9g Volume: 1472.62mm^3

Two Dollar coin: Value: 200c Weight: 6.60g Volume: 1056.2mm^3

Total Values (385c), Weights (50.93g) and Volumes (7723.45mm^3). This means:

Frequency of Losing Coins in ‘the’ Australia

The $15.96 minimum wage would probably be made up of: 151 Five Cent coins, 36 Ten Cent Coins, 9 Twenty Cent Coins, 2 Fifty Cent Coins, and 2 One Dollar Coins. Only 200 coins an hour as opposed to 230 in the UK. 18 seconds per coin.

THEREFORE…. Regardless of how unlikely it is to earn a living by looking for coins, it is 15% more difficult to do so in the United Kingdom than in Australia.

Overall this tangible window of opportunity closing, with the emergence of an era of bank cards and iPhones, is seemingly something that really won’t be missed. Maybe our energies would be of better use towards creating a solution to our Cossack bartering troubles…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s