Perhaps it was the recent snow, leaving Brits stir crazy and stranded at home. Or perhaps there are simply more coin collectors than anyone had anticipated. Either way, when the British Royal Mint announced the striking of 26 new 10-pence pieces, one for each letter of the alphabet and all “quintessentially British,” there was so much traffic to the site that it crashed, resulting in hours-long online waits. (Either that, or it was an immersive experience: Q is, after all, for queueing.)
Most of the treasures depicted on these 26 new coins will be familiar to anyone who’s ever visited London, or simply watched Paddington Bear. Think English breakfasts, the Houses of Parliament, the double-decker bus. But the coin of the greatest interest to cryptozoologists, conspiracy theorists, and anyone with a fondness for monsters comes in the middle of the alphabet: L, for Loch Ness Monster. “Nothing gets the mind wondering as much as traditional British folklore,” the site says. “And the top of all the mythical beasts is the Loch Ness Monster.”
Nessie, as she’s sometimes affectionately known, is by no means the first cryptid to have her own coin. The Royal Canadian Mint released a series of monster-themed collectable coins, including Sasquatch, in 2011. This colored quarter was followed by two others, also by illustrator Emily Samstra. First, there was Memphré, a serpentine cryptid, who lives in Lake Memphremagog, about 93 miles southeast of Montreal. Next was a feline “being” called Mishepishu. Per the the Canadian Mint: “For centuries, Ojibwe legends have described a mysterious creature lurking in the depths of Lake Superior. They call it Mishepishu, which means ‘Great Lynx,’ to describe its wildcat shape.”
If you want to have your wallet full of monsters, however, you’ll have to look beyond North America and Europe—and perhaps beyond ordinary legal tender, too. The New Zealand Mint produces a line of two-dollar coins, valid only on the island of Niue, that boast among them the Minotaur, the Gorgon, and a ready-slain Cyclops. Elsewhere in the Pacific, you can find one-dollar “Mythical Creatures” coins valid on the island of Tuvalu, minted by the Australian Gold and Silver Exchange: Think griffins, unicorns and phoenixes. Given that these are made of silver, and worth far more than their dollar “value,” these are likely safely tucked away in the coffers of collectors. The Royal Mint has, so far, minted about a million Nessies, however—allowing this cryptid to roam the breadth and width of the British Isles, from the comfort of the back of a coin.