A guide to collecting the UK’s rarest circulating coins

After the interest in last week’s charts, I thought I would go into a little more detail about the coins which came out on top – because when it comes to collecting, there is one fact which is always inevitable – the rarest coins are always in highest demand.

So which coins in your pocket are the rare ones? 

  • Fifty Pence coins
Kew Gardens 50p A

The Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation

Where else to start but the Kew Gardens 50p? As any change checker knows, it is the rarest coin currently in circulation, with just 210,000 struck. To put that in perspective – the next scarcest designs are the 2003 Suffragettes and 2011 WWF 50ps respectively with a mintage of just over 3 million apiece. The famous Chinese Pagoda of the gardens features on the reverse of the coin and is definitely worth looking for in your change. It remains the Holy Grail of circulation coins eluding even the keenest of collectors.

  • Olympic Fifty Pence series
Olympic 50p small

The ‘Offside Rule’ Football design is the rarest in the Olympic 50p series

In celebration of London 2012, the Royal Mint issued a series of 29 different 50p designs – each representing a sport from either the Olympic or Paralympic Games. They have gone on to become some of the most highly sought-after coins and are still frequently hoarded from circulation. The ‘Offside rule’ Football 50p had everyone talking about its innovative design, but it also holds the title of the Olympic 50p with the lowest mintage. Only 1,125,500 were struck, which is marginally more than the Triathlon and Judo designs which are the next rarest in the series.

  • One Pound coins

The Edinburgh design is the £1 with the lowest mintage

The £1 coin has not traditionally been a place for one-off commemorative designs, but themes have followed a similar pattern over the years, with the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom being represented in cycles. In recent years, the mintage of commemorative £1 coins has dropped off considerably, and the capital cities series is currently the most scarce. The 2011 Edinburgh design is the only £1 coin with a mintage below 1 million and the Cardiff and London issues follow closely behind. By way of comparison, there were over 443 million Royal Arms Shield £1 coins issued in 1983 alone.

  • Two Pound coins
2002 CWG £2 Flags

The 2002 Commonwealth Games N.Ireland is the rarest £2 in circulation, but it can be tricky to spot!

The 2002 Commonwealth Games £2 designs are notoriously difficult to find. There are four different versions, all similar, but with a different flag to represent each of the four constituent countries of the UK. You’ll need to look very closely at each flag to know which version you’ve got. The Northern Ireland design is the rarest £2 coin in circulation – only 485,500 were struck. The other three in the series are similarly scarce, so finding any Commonwealth Games £2 in your change is an achievement! Other £2 coins worthy of note include the three Olympic-themed designs; 2008 Handover, 2008 Centenary and 2012 Handover which also have mintages of less than one million.

So the next time you’re flicking through your coins, remember – all coins are not created equal!  There are some you should count yourself lucky to have, and if you come across any of the rare coins mentioned in this post – it might just be worth hanging on to them!

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Interested in the designs mentioned in this blog?

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