The decline in using cold hard cash is declining nowadays as more payments are being made online, by plastic or even by contactless. However, money still makes the world go round, and coins will always make an appearance.
You head into a shop; they don’t take cards, so you have to fumble in your bag to pull out some cash, while one kid is pulling on your arm and the other wants a wee! You pay quickly, and the change gets popped into your hand. You chuck it in your bag, and away you go.
Back at home, you either put your change into a savings jar (have you tried the 1p savings challenge) or you keep the money handy until the next time you need to spend some.
It could be ages before you realise you’ve got expensive coins just sitting there!
But how do you realise one of the coins doesn’t look quite like other UK coins?
What rare British coins should you look out for?
Expensive coins UK
If you’ve got a 50p coin, its legal tender value is worth at least 50p.
However, there are things that can make a coin far more expensive:
- Is it a rare coin? How many were created and put into circulation?
- What is the coin’s condition? Is it shiny and look new, or does it have scratches and appear dirty?
- Does it have an error? If there is a printing error, it will get a higher price than a “perfect” coin.
- Is it in a collection? If the coin is part of a series, collectors want to finish their set so it may be more sought after.
Rare UK coins
Let’s take a look at some of the most expensive coins in the UK that you could get in your change. Or you may find rare pennies hiding at the bottom of your piggy bank 🙂
These coins are considered some of the rarest coins in the UK, based on how sought after they are.
New pence 2p
A 2p piece used to read “new pence” up until 1982.
After that time, all coins read “two pence”. (Are you rummaging in your pocket to check?)
However, there was a little mistake in 1983. The Royal mint released some coins that said “new pence”.
They are not sure how many are out there, but if you find a 1983 “new pence” 2p then you could potentially sell it for £500!
Kew Gardens 50p
The Kew Gardens 50p, issued in 2009, has been in the top spot of highly sought after coins for some time.
There were only some 210,000 coins issued, and the 50p coin can sell for around £97!
However, with a 2019 reissue of the Kew Gardens 50p, the original may go up in value more.
Sir Isaac Newton 50p
Potentially the (new) rarest coins in the UK is the Sir Isaac Newton 50p, issued in 2017.
There are potentially less than 210,000 coins that were made, which could make it more valuable than others.
People are paying around £59 on eBay for a 50p coin, according to Change Checker!
1992/1993 EEC 50p
You won’t likely find this one handed out in change as it is no longer in legal circulation, but that won’t stop you finding old coins worth money in an old, dusty box.
The European Economic Community coin was withdrawn when the slimmer 50p was introduced back in 1997.
This EEC Single Market design represents capital cities in the EU and can get you around £56.
Brexit may make the coin go up in value further.
In 2008, the coat of arms on the back of our current coins was released (see the photo above).
However, due to an error, some 250,000 rare 20p coins were misprinted!
There are coins without a date on them that were issued between 2008 and 2009 (although you obviously won’t see this date 🙂 )
At the moment, you’ll likely get £50-£100 for an undated 20p.
Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games £2
Issued in 2002 to commemorate the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, there were just 485,000 Northern Ireland coins minted.
There were more issued in England, Wales and Scotland, but it’s the NI coin which is more sought after.
This rare old British coin is not easy to find in your change, which means their value goes up, so you could make around £31 for the rare coin.
You’re looking for coins where the flag is embossed, whereas the England flag is indented.
Guy Fawkes 50p
It was the 400th anniversary of the Gunpowder plot in 2005.
Remember, remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot!
While we may remember the riddle, someone had a little trouble with spelling as there was a typo and the side of the coin which reads “pemember, pemember” instead!
You may be able to get £5-7 for the coin.
2015 Britannia £2
The Britannia £2 coin had a mintage of just 650,000, which means they are hard to come by in everyday change.
For this reason alone, you can usually get more than face value if you try to sell it on.
However, you’re not going to make a fortune as they sell for around £4. Still, £4 is better than £2 🙂
One reason it continues to be popular is that some coins were released with “Inverted Effigy”, where the Queen’s head is upside down! However, there is only a handful of these so it’d be unlikely you’d ever find one. If you do, it’d be worth a LOT.
In the same way as rare coins, some bank notes are considered more valuable than others.
Again, there are a few things you want to look out for:
- Serial number: Look at the prefix. You are looking to get the very first prefix or early number which will start with AA01.
- Chief Cashier signatures: Each note is signed by the Chief Cashier, and some collectors want a set with each signature over history, mainly if there are first or last editions of the note.
- Quality: Make sure to look after the note and don’t crease or rip it.
- Errors: Check for printing errors or miscut paper.
- Something else: This is a little up in the air, but you’re looking for something that will make the note unusual. For instance, look for meaningful numbers like “123456”.
Don’t just consider new band notes, but have a rummage in the attic or in old boxes to see if you can find any valuable old banknotes too.
AA01 polymer £5 banknote
We got a new £5 note in September 2016 featuring Sir Winston Churchill.
While the legal tender is £5, some collectors could pay around £10 for a note with a very early prefix.
There are just under 60 million notes printed that begin with ‘AA’, so you may well have a chance of finding one!
AA01 polymer £10 banknote
A year later, in September 2017, we got the first polymer £10 note.
These early notes, with a low prefix like AA01, can earn you around £15.
Polymer £20 banknote
Similarly to other newly printed notes, the new twenty with lower prefix serial numbers will fetch far more money.
But, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens 🙂
Want to find out if you’ve got rare and valuable UK coins?
Every so often there is a craze about potentially valuable British coins, and a story may go viral on social media with tales of coins being sold for ridiculously high prices.
The best way to initially find out how much a rare coin is worth is by checking the Change Checker scarcity checker. This way you can see how sought after your coin is.
Once you know it’s rarer, head to eBay, do a search and filter by completed listings. You’ll then be able to filter out what has been sold, how much for, and what wasn’t sold, rather than just seeing the listing prices.
You can also use the Change Checker eBay price tracker. This takes the last nine sold prices to give a median sale price. However, this is only updated every six months so may not be fully up to date with trends.
If you’ve found expensive coins, it can be easy to put your coins on eBay, hoping someone will bid, but it could be losing out.
It may be a good idea to get some coinage advice from Royal Mint Museum Services.
You’re able to submit photos of your rare coins for examination.
While this service is run by the Royal Mint Museum, the museum itself doesn’t provide valuations (although the museum is still worth a trip as it’s a free day out in London, and it’s awesome!)
Well, after all that, I’m off to look down the back of the sofa!
Naomi knows the burden of living on very little and became debt free by learning from past mistakes and following her own money saving tips and tricks.