Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ Coins Come in Unique Shapes

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The Yellow Submarine collectible coin via Crown Mint

Over the years The Beatles have moved thoughtfully into the merchandise business. The early years of rock and roll merch were both an afterthought and a cash grab (think Col. Tom Parker’s deals for Elvis Presley). But The Beatles’ business endeavors have become more circumspect across the decades. In the latest evolution, their landmark 1968 animated movie, Yellow Submarine, is being honored with a series of authentic, legal-tender collectible coins by Scottsdale, Ariz., company, Crown Mint.

The company has been in business since 2008, initially as a design shop. It started making packaging for coins, and eventually realized the company should evolve into actually making the coins since, says Steven Harris, a principal at Crown Mint, “We could do it better.”

Once the company made that pivot, it shifted again. After exclusively selling on a wholesale basis, it switched gears to selling as a retailer. Harris discovered that their product was getting lost on other retailer sites, so the idea was to go it alone and straight to the consumer.

Probed further about the company’s pivots, Harris revealed that many retailers admitted that many of their core customers were getting too old. They had the existential question, “Where is the market going?” Coin collecting does not speak to a younger clientele. Do you know any kids into stamp collecting?

Indeed, almost no one below a certain age is using coins. Who these days has 82 cents in their pocket?

Crown Mint’s scrutiny of the marketplace started with Star Wars, then Marvel. Harris indicated his company was competing with governments on coins. “Once we started with licensing everyone got on the bandwagon.”

“With our past success, I wondered, how do we get The Beatles?”

Apple Corps Ltd. had said no many times to others with a similar idea, so instead of a round coin, Crown Mint proposed a shape and packaging that would be different and compelling.

The design for these coins comes directly from the Yellow Submarine movie, with each coin in the series highlighting the psychedelically colorful artwork from the animated film. And just like the movie, the new coins are anything but typical. The first coin in the spotlight isn’t even round – it is in the iconic shape of the Yellow Submarine itself.

What Harris looks for is a brand that withstands the test of time.

As a kid he devoured Marvel comic books, and it seemed like a logical first move. “Older folks remember the comic books, younger kids devour the films,” Harris continued. “We won’t do a coin unless we like the brand. We have been approached by a lot of folks. So far our guesses have been pretty good.”

He is asked what it means for the items to be considered legal tender. “It could be used as legal tender,” he said, “but it would be silly to do so.” In other words, the face value of the coin is so much lower than the value of the metal inside. You wouldn’t want to spend the designated one dollar denomination on a candy bar if the value of the metal inside was worth $20. Hence, the coins are considered “non-circulating legal tender.”

It’s a pretty safe prediction that most buyers won’t be keeping these Yellow Submarine coins in their pocket.

Watch the movie’s trailer

Related: Looking back at the Yellow Submarine film premiere

Harris is asked what the future holds for Crown Mint. “We have more Beatles products in the pipeline, and some more bands in discussion. Look for animated characters.”

Brad Auerbach

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