Do you think you may have a rare UK coin sat in your house? Or perhaps you’re wondering that buying and selling coins could be a great way to earn some extra cash? Take a look at some of the rarest coins you should be looking out for and how much they are worth.
The last few years has seen quite a change in the UK with the coins and notes that we use. In 2016, the £5 polymer note was introduced and the £10 and £20 notes replaced over the following years.
In 2017, the traditional circular £1 coin, which had been in circulation since 1983, was replaced with a 12 sided version. This wasn’t a surprise as it was estimated that 2.5% of the 1.6 billion coins were fake.
Needless to say, I have several old-style £1 coins tucked away in my draw. After several years of sitting there, they’re estimated to be worth… around £1 each. But just because my first attempt at making money with old coins hasn’t taken off yet, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t some serious profit to be made.
In a nutshell..
Most valuable and rare UK coins to look for
- 1973 EEC 50 Pence Coin – valued at £3,000
- 2012 London Olympics Aquatics Fifty Pence – valued at £1,500
- 1983 Two Pence “New Pence” Coin – valued at £500
- 2015 Silver Two Pence Coin – valued at £485
- 2009 Kew Gardens Fifty Pence Coin – valued at £170
- 2008 ‘Undated 20 Pence Coin – valued at £50
A brief history of the coin
I love a brief history lesson, if only so it means I can bore my children at dinner.
Coins were introduced as a method of payment back in around the 6th or 5th century BCE by the Lydians (who were located in Turkey). The first coins were made of an alloy of silver and gold known as electrum. Gold and silver soon replaced electrum as the material of choice and a coin’s value was linked to the value of the metal, rather than an arbitrary value as we do now.
In the UK, up until 1920, coins were actually made up of 92.5% silver. The content was reduced and in 1947, silver was removed from all coins.
What is the world’s most valuable coin?
Before I dip into UK coin values, I thought it would be a good idea to see what the top-end of the market would fetch. Now, you might be thinking that the most expensive coin would come from somewhere like Ancient Greece. Who wouldn’t want a coin over 2,500 years old?
Surprisingly (or maybe not), the most expensive coins are from the USA. And the most expensive? The Flowing Hair Silver Dollar, which was struck in 1794 and valued at over $10million. Remember to check through your loose change to make sure you haven’t been given one the next time you visit the States.
So, what makes a coin valuable?
Generally, it comes down to how rare something is. And that doesn’t necessarily mean an old coin that has been taken out of circulation. A lot of the coins below are rare because very few of them were initially minted. 200,000 might seem like a big number, but when you think that there are around 29 billion coins circulating the UK, you soon realise that it’s fairly insignificant.
Most valuable UK coins
Edward III Gold “Double Leopard” Florin
This is the kind of coin that we like to see. Minted in 1344, this isn’t something you are likely to find in common circulation. If only… However, if you’re a metal detecting fan, there is always hope. The Gold Florin was found in the River Tyne in 1857 with two other coins. It was originally worth six shillings – or around 30 pence in today’s money.
This coin sold privately for £460,000 back in 2006.
George V Sovereign 1917
This coin was minted in London during World War I. It wasn’t a particularly rare coin as nearly 1 million sovereigns were produced for the Bank of England reserves. However, nearly all the coins were exported to the USA to help pay for the war effort. It is thought that they sat in Fort Knox and were eventually melted down into bars.
A George V Sovereign was sold for £11,000 at auction in 2012.
George V Penny 1933
What makes this coin so special? Well, what makes this UK coin so rare is the fact it is actually a “pattern coin”. It was a prototype and never went into production. In fact, there are only four in existence. There were very few coins produced in 1933 due to the fact that so many had been produced by the Royal Mint the previous year.
This coin sold for £72,000 in 2016.
Edward VIII Brass Threepence 1936
This was an experimental coin, created just after the death of King George V. However, Edward VIII abdicated before his coronation, so the coins were never mass-produced. It is believed that no more than 10 of these coins were created.
The coin was put up for sale for £30,000 in 2013.
Ok, so the chances of you finding any of the coins above are pretty slim. However, there are some modern coins which could still be in circulation or just sitting in a draw somewhere.
European Economic Community Fifty Pence Coin 1973
To celebrate the UK joining the EEC, this fifty pence piece was released. However, it is estimated that only 5000 were made and many were given to finance ministers and senior officials. Keep your eyes out for any Brexit coins…
It is estimated that these coins are worth around £3,000 each.
Elizabeth II Two Pence Coin 1983
The reason why these coins are so rare and valuable is due to a technical glitch. Up until 1982, all coins had “New Pence” written on the rear. After this date, the wording was changed to show the value of the coin. But in 1983, a batch of two pence coins were released with the wrong wording. The Royal Mint is unsure how many of these coins were released.
These coins have sold for over £500 at auction.
Elizabeth II Bank of England 300th Anniversary Two Pound Coin 1994
This very rare coin was minted to celebrate 300 years of the Bank of England. There are 1000 of these coins and they are 22-carat gold proof. If you were given this as change in the shop, you would certainly know it.
These are valued in the region of £2,500. There are similar coins to these on eBay that sell in the region of £15. However, they are far more common and are not 22-carat.
Elizabeth II European Championships Gold Proof Two Pound Coin 1996
Remember when football came home? Well, the trophy didn’t. But to commemorate this major football tournament being played back on home soil, the Royal Mint made just under 2,100 of these coins. On the rear of the coin was the date and 16 circles to signify the countries taking part.
This coin isn’t quite so rare as some of the above, but still difficult to find. You can find it on sale at some websites, but they don’t hang around for long. Prices start at £790.
Elizabeth II Twenty Pence Piece 2008
Between 2008 and 2009, there were over 136 million new 20p coins minted, which goes to show how many coins are actually made. But in November 2008, a minting error meant that just under 250,000 of these coins were produced without a date. Because of this, it makes them quite a collectible item.
If you find one, they can sell for around £50.
Elizabeth II Kew Gardens Fifty Pence Coin 2009
This coin was released to celebrate the 250th anniversary of London’s Kew Gardens. 210,000 coins were released and many went straight to collectors.
These coins are currently valued at around £170.
Elizabeth II London Olympics Aquatics Fifty Pence Coin 2011 (First Design)
This rare 50 pence piece was released in 2011 to celebrate the following year’s London Olympic Games. However, it was decided that the swimmer’s face couldn’t be seen clearly and the coin was redisgned with the waves missing their face.
It’s estimated that this coin could fetch £1,500.
Elizabeth II Silver Two Pence Coin 2015
This is probably one of the rarest coins you can find and is known as a ‘mule’ or ‘error’ coin. A 10p blank managed to find its way onto the minting press and was struck as a 2p instead. This isn’t actually the first time the error has occurred, with one being sold in 2014 for £1,357.
The 2015 coin sold for £485.
And the not so rare
Finding rare coins can be quite a challenge, but finding which coins are actually common can be even harder. The fact is, how often do you look closely at your change? And then one day, you see something new and you think it might be worth quite a bit.
Mrs Tittlemouse Fifty Pence Coin 2018
You would be forgiven in thinking this is a very valuable coin. It was released in 2018 to celebrate the Beatrix Potter books. And in 2019, it was reported that one of the coins was sold on eBay for £430. Whether the buyer paid, we will never know. What we do know is that there were 1.7 million of these coins minted, which means that although it’s limited, it isn’t a particularly rare coin. Yet.
Estimated value: £4
Charles Dickens Two Pound Coin 2012
This £2 coin was released to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens. There can be some very slight differences, such as in some versions, Queen Elizabeth’s head disappears halfway around and that the milled wording around the coin is upside down. But this isn’t very rare and can be caused by the mass printing process. In total, there were 8 million coins released, so it is very common.
Estimated value: £2
Benjamin Britten Fifty Pence Coin 2013
Benjamin Britten was a famous English composer and this 50p piece was made to celebrate 100 years since his birth. In total, 5.3 million of these coins were minted, meaning it’s not rare at all.
Estimated value: Change Checker believes that if you can find a collector, you may be able to get £10.
Where to sell your valuable coin
If you think you have a rare coin that might be worth selling, then are several places you can try and sell.
Online auction sites
You can take a bit of a gamble by selling on an auction site like eBay. If your coin is rare and worth quite a bit of money and a couple of people notice, you should be able to get a decent selling price. Or, people might be mistaken into thinking your coin is far rarer than it really is and you might get even more.
Alternatively, bidders may not actually find your item and it will sell for well under market value.
You can get a good idea of how much coins are worth, by taking a look at previous sale prices on eBay. However, you will notice that almost every coin on eBay will be described as rare – whether it is not.
Coin fairs happen across the UK and are a great place to buy and sell coins. If you have a valuable coin you could even get buyers to bid against each other.
The only issue with the fairs option is finding one close to you.
If neither of those options takes your fancy, why not contact a numismatist (aka a coin dealer to you and me). There should be some local to you and you don’t even need to visit. You can send photos or your coin and they should be able to value them via email or video call.
Make sure you get a couple of valuations so you can get an idea of the average price.