By Alex Gallagher
When The Beatles unveiled their 1968 animated film “Yellow Submarine,” the film was quickly immortalized with art, toy versions of the submarine and now, nearly five and a half decades later, a limited-edition coin.
Scottsdale-based The Crown Mint — an independent firm that develops products and packaging for the collectibles industry — recently announced it is selling 24kt pure gold or .999 silver coins shaped like the iconic yellow submarine in four weights and sizes. The coins are available for pre-sale on crownmint.com
“The Beatles are probably the most influential band in the history of rock and roll so it was a pretty obvious choice,” Crown Mint principal Steven Harris said.
“There are a lot of coin companies from around the world that went after that license for a long time. At one point, we were in direct competition with the Royal Mint — the company that produces circulating coins in the U.K. So, it’s a pretty big deal to have gotten that license over everybody else that’s been after it.”
It was also something of a dream come true for him.
Harris remembers sifting through pocket change alongside his father, looking for silver dimes and quarters. He started The Crown Mint in 2008, looking for ways to reintroduce younger people to coin collecting.
“These days, people don’t carry a lot of pocket change, so there isn’t that touchstone,” Harris said. “My thought was, ‘This is a really neat hobby, how do we get it and direct it towards a younger audience?’ I then thought a pop culture is a good tool that could work and so far, it has.”
The first coins rolled out in 2013 and were authentic, legal tender coins based on the “Star Wars” films. With them, the Crown Mint became the first company in the world to produce a legal tender coin that featured a major Hollywood property.
Since then, The Crown Mint has produced coins in conjunction with Coca-Cola, Marvel and The Rolling Stones before venturing into a yellow submarine and taking on the world of The Beatles this year.
“Ideally, we’re trying to get a younger group into collecting coins but in reality, we’re trying to get anybody into collecting coins,” Harris said. “So, you have to look at things that people are passionate about and one of those things certainly is music.”
When Harris began targeting music fans, there were two bands he eyed: The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.
“If you ask people, ‘What are the two biggest rock ‘n’ roll bands ever?’ I think the Beatles would certainly come up and I believe the Rolling Stones would also come up. So those were two groups that we targeted,” he explained.
However, The Beatles turned out to be more of a challenge than he anticipated.
The Crown Mint had to partner with Apple Corps Ltd. — the conglomerate created by the band in 1968 that controls The Beatles Property and is still owned by Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
That wasn’t the only company that The Mint Collective had to persuade to make the vision of the “Yellow Submarine” coin a reality.
The deal had to also be brokered by Sony’s Thread Shop, the Beatles’ North American licensing agent.
However, once the two entities saw the work that The Crown Mint had done with other entities, it seemed like a no-brainer.
With the project green lighted, The Crown Mint produced submarine-shaped coins out of either 24K pure gold or .999 silver embossed with a golden yellow submarine that looks identical to the one featured in the film.
The coins are available for pre-sale in four options: 1 ounce of pure 24K gold, 12 grams of pure 24K gold, 1 ounce of pure .999 silver and 10 grams of pure .999 silver and orders are expected to begin shipping out as early as September 16.
The coins sell for $129.95 on crownmint.com.