Every keen collector knows that it is worthwhile paying close attention to the small details of your coins – it’s the only way you can ever hope to spot an error. However, it’s also important to know when you have a genuine rarity.
There are a few stories that crop up more often than others, so today I’d like to help dispel some of the myths about UK coins.
The undated 20p
It’s regarded by many as the Holy Grail of change collecting, and back in 2008, the undated 20p saga encouraged an entire country to start carefully checking their coins. In fact plenty of collectors are still doing just that in the hope of finding one.
In 2008, the reverse of each denomination from 1p to £1 was redesigned by Matthew Dent and so The Royal Mint produced a new die with the date on the obverse.
However, when the new Royal Shield 20p coins were struck for circulation, the old die was accidentally used. The Royal Mint confirmed that a batch of no more than 250,000 were issued with no date on either side of the coin.
The 2014 Year of the Horse ‘Mule’ Coin
A “mule” is a coin where one of the sides has been struck with the wrong die. And that’s what happened with some of The Royal Mint’s 2014 Year of the Horse coins.
The Royal Mint acknowledged the error, which resulted in approximately 17,000 Britannia coins being struck with the non-denticled Year of the Horse obverse and 38,000 Year of the Horse coins with the denticled Britannia version as their obverse. At the time listings on eBay were as high as £500.
The ‘Silver’ 2p striking error
The 2015 dated ‘Silver’ 2 pence coin was dropped into a Royal British Legion collection tin in Wiltshire a few weeks ago and made headline news nationwide.
The coin was confirmed as an extremely sought-after minting error after a 10p ‘blank’ found its way into the presses and a 2p was accidentally struck onto it.
Errors like this are extremely rare, but The Royal Mint verified the authenticity of the coin. There has only ever been one other ‘silver’ 2p which sold in 2014 for £1,357.
2007 Abolition of Slavery £2
There is a misconception that there were two types of the Abolition of Slavery £2 coin struck for circulation. It is true that two versions of the coins exist– one has a textured finish whereas the other has a smooth finish and features the artist, David Gentleman’s initials (circled).
The key difference is that only the textured version was struck for circulation, and if you find one of the smoother types in your change, you have actually found a coin which has been taken out of a presentation pack. This makes it considerably rarer than the circulating version, so it is worth keeping rather than spending!
The 2005 Gun Powder Plot £2 spelling mistake
The 2005 Gunpowder Plot £2 commemorates the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ failed assassination attempt on King James I, but the coin is more familiar to collectors for having a spelling mistake in the edge inscription.
The timeless quote “Remember, remember the fifth of November” has been found with various combinations of Pemember, Pemembep, Novemebep and so on. The common factor here is the ‘R’ which appears as a ‘P’.
Sadly for collectors this is apparently not a striking error. The explanation from The Royal Mint is that the down-stroke of the R coincides with the milling around the edge, and as the coin has worn over time, the letter has become less defined.
This categorical statement from the Mint means that any mark-up in price for a supposed ‘error’ is completely unjustified, and although it makes the coin more interesting, it is not the mistake which it is often perceived to be.
The Battle of Britain 50p with no denomination
The Brilliant Uncirculated 50p was issued early in 2015 and was quickly dubbed an error coin. The coins, which were sold in presentation packs, had been struck without the denomination in either numbers or writing anywhere on the coin.
After the controversy surrounding the coin erupted, The Royal Mint confirmed that the 50p intended for circulation later on in the year would have the ’50 PENCE’ denomination.
Although this Battle of Britain 50p fails to feature a denomination on the Brilliant Uncirculated version and despite the fact that each obverse is different, The Royal Mint claim this was intentional and therefore is not an error.
Upside down edge lettering
Depending on the denomination, some coins will have edge lettering to help against counterfeiting. What you may not know though, is the edge lettering is applied before the coin has even been struck which is why some coins can end up with the edge lettering upside down.
It’s the little details like these that make collecting so interesting – and hopefully we’ve shed a bit more light on some of the most popular coin mis-strikes and myths in UK coinage. The minting process is never completely exempt from human error, so remember to always check your change carefully. Mistakes happen, and when it comes to coins, these mistakes can often be worth a lot money to sharp-eyed collectors.