Although the UK has an enviable record for producing coins of impeccable quality, there has been the odd occasion in the past where a ‘mistake’ has managed to get into circulation. Here are my top three favourites, and if you own one, you can consider yourself very lucky indeed!
1. 1983 Two ‘New’ Pence
When the UK switched to decimal coinage in 1971, it was decided to include the word ‘new’ in the denomination on some of our coins to help differentiate the old from the new. By 1982 the coins were no longer new so the word was dropped, and the 2p design changed from ‘New Pence’ to ‘Two Pence’. However, a mistake was made and a small number of 1983 coins were struck with the inscription ‘New Pence’. Recently a handful have emerged on Ebay for around £100, and a perfect example of the coin is catalogued at £600.
2. 2011 Aquatics 50p
The series of twenty-nine 50ps issued for the Olympic Games have become some of the most sought after UK decimal coins ever issued. But one coin could actually be rarer than the others. The Aquatics 50p was initially struck with the impression of the athlete underwater (see left coin) – but this was swiftly changed to make the swimmer’s face clearer (coin on the right). None appear to have recorded an officially catalogued selling price yet, but when they do this ‘error’ coin could end up as the most valuable of the lot.
3. The Undated 20p
We often get comments on our Facebook page about people who have found an undated 20p. It has to be one of the most talked about ‘mules’ of the decade – where the obverse and the reverse of a coin don’t match. The result of this mistake led to the first ‘undated’ UK coin for over 300 years – and 200,000 of them made it into circulation. However, banks and The Royal Mint swiftly tried to withdraw them, so many will have been destroyed – but a handful will undoubtedly remain. Initial hysteria led to some crazy prices being quoted for this coin, but in the future when the market has settled down it could well be one of the most sought after definitive pieces of the early 21st century.
Special mention: The Edward VIII Threepence
Now you won’t find this in your change, but if your grandparents have some coins at the back of the cupboard it might be worth having a quick look through in case a King Edward VIII Threepence is hiding there. Famously the King abdicated before any coins bearing his image could be struck, but a handful of 3d coins were produced as test pieces. Some of them made their way into private hands, and one recently came up at auction for £30,000!
Suffice to say, it’s worth keeping an eye on your change, as you may well have an error coin in your pocket that hasn’t even been discovered yet! And if you do, there’s every chance you could be quids in!
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