Do you think you have a good knowledge of UK coinage? Well check out these 20 surprising facts that you might not know about UK coins!

1. The direction of each monarch’s effigy faces in the opposite direction to their immediate predecessor. This has been tradition since the time of Charles II onwards, with the only exception being Edward VIII, as he preferred his left portrait to his right, which was the side proposed for coins of his reign.

Edward VIII Left Portrait. Credit: Numista

2. Two 1p coins weigh the same as one 2p coin, and two 5p coins weigh the same as one 10p coin. A 1p coin weighs 3.56g, so times that by 2 and you’ve got the weight of a 2 pence piece, 7.12g

1p and 2p coins

3. Whilst the high-value banknote in general circulation is the £50 note, there are such things as £1 million notes and £100 million notes. They are locked away deep in the Bank of England’s vaults and are used to back the value of every notes issued by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

£1 million pound note. Credit: BBC.com

4. The word Farthing derived from a shortening of the word ‘Fourthing’. As far back as 1060, an English coin was shaped like a clover, so that any of the four leaves could be broken off and used as separate pieces of currency.

Farthing

5. The commonly used term ‘quid’ actually originates from the phrase Quid Pro Quo, which translates literally to ‘what for what’. This term first appeared back in 1661!

6. According to the central banks, Brits are the world leaders at counterfeiting. There are an estimated 300 fake notes in every one million sterling notes!

7. When the UK prepared for the decimalization of its coinage, the government embarked on an enormous media campaign including leaflets, TV spots and even songs!

Decimalisation Posters. Credit: Royal Mint Museum.

8. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany produced huge quantities of counterfeit sterling notes to try and devalue British currency. By 1945 a huge 12% of the notes in existence were counterfeit! The problem was solved by removing higher denomination notes from circulation and putting metal threads through new notes, making them harder to forge.

9. Stamps are not legal tender. Whilst you are free to accept stamps as payment for a service or goods, there is no legal obligation for you to accept them when offered. They have however been used as emergency currency in other countries.

1938 Emergency Spanish Currency Stamps. Credit: The Westminster Collection

10. You cannot pay fines in pennies. Have you ever considered paying a parking fine you didn’t think was fair with nothing but pennies? Well, be aware that the council is under no obligation to accept them! While relevant parties can choose to accept any type of payment they wish, in England and Wales restrictions apply on sums below £1.

11. Despite common belief, the polymer notes are not indestructible. Although we don’t recommend destroying them as you won’t be able to spend them!

Polymer £5 and £20 notes.

12. An estimated 28,850,000,000 UK coins are in circulation today! This is equivalent to almost 4 billion pounds worth of coins!

13. The use of gold in UK coinage ended when the First World War began. The gold sovereign, prior to 1914, was worth about £1 in circulation. However, the public were asked to hand any in to help fund the war effort. In its place came the £1 and £10 notes.

1910 Edward VII Circulating Gold Sovereign. Credit: Numista

14. There is a myriad of Cockney rhyming slang to describe money. Apple core means £20, Uncle Ben means 10 and if someone asks to borrow a taxi driver, they actually mean a fiver.

15. The ‘coppers’ in your change, aren’t actually made of copper. Since 1992, 1p and 2p coins have been made of steel, with a copper plating.

2 Pence Piece

16. The UK’s current definitive coinage dated 2008 or younger, make up the design of the Shield of the Royal Arms when they are all placed together. Pretty cool, right?

Shield of the Royal Arms in Definitive Coinage

17. Legend has it, the M11 has an exit but not an entry at Junction 5 to prevent would-be thieves escaping. This is because of its close proximity to the De La Rue Currency factory – where banknotes are printed for the Bank of England. This way, any potential robbers wouldn’t be able to make their escape quickly out of London and onto a motorway.

18. The Queen must officially approve any coin design before it can be made. The design is first put to the Chancellor, who then passes it on to the Queen for her official sign-off.

The Royal Mint Advisory Committee. Credit: The Royal Mint Museum

19. A full judicial trial is held to test newly-minted coins – called the Trial of the Pyx. This ceremony is held to ensure newly-minted coins conform to the required standards. The trials are held once a year and the coin’s diameter, chemical composition and weight is tested. These trials have been held since the 12th century and the process remains largely unchanged since that date!

The Trial of the Pyx. Credit: The Royal Mint Museum.

20. If you find a buried treasure chest of money and don’t report it, you could face a prison sentence! Technically any hidden treasure found in the UK belongs to the Queen! All findings must be reported to the coroner within 14 days and the treasure will be offered to museums. If the museums choose not to bid on it, then the finder/land-owner gets to receive it.

How many of these surprising facts did you already know? Let us know in the comments below!


If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:

– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers

Change Checker Web App Banner 2 Amends 1024x233 1 1024x233 - Your January 2019 Scarcity Index update!

Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app

We all know what an incredible job our doctors, nurses, paramedics – indeed all our fabulous Key Workers are doing to help us through this challenging time.

So much so that last night, people all across the UK leaned out of their windows or stood at their doors to applaud our heroes for their hard work

And now we’re calling all our Change Checker Juniors to design a 50p just for them, as another way to show appreciation.

If you’d like to get involved, all you need to do is follow these simple steps:

1. Download this PDF and print it out.

2. Create your Key Worker Heroes design and fill in the details on the page. You can take inspiration from the UK 50ps listed on our web app!

3. Photograph your design.

4. Post a photo of your design in the comments on this Facebook post

The TOP 5 designs will be brought to life in an animation and featured in a Change Checker video, which will be available to watch on the 13th April.

Entries close at 9am on Thursday 9th April, so don’t delay!

Best of luck and happy designing!

The BRAND NEW and last-ever Peter Rabbit 50p has now been officially released!

It would be hard to find someone who hadn’t heard of this naughty little rabbit. The central character of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s stories, Peter Rabbit has featured on many staple collectables.

Emma Noble’s design of this coin, which features an original illustration of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter herself, perfectly captures Peter Rabbit’s cheeky personality, as he can be seen crawling under Mr. McGregor’s fence!

2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

This coin won’t be entering circulation but is available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p) here.

Where it all started

It was in 2016 that Peter Rabbit escaped from Mr. McGregor’s garden and made his first debut on United Kingdom coinage.

Issued to celebrate 150 years since the birth of renowned Children’s author, Beatrix Potter, this 50p changed coin collecting forever.

2016 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

There were five Beatrix Potter 50ps issued in 2016, including the incredibly popular Jemima Puddle-Duck, which, for a long time, was considered the rarest Beatrix Potter coin in circulation. She was also joined by fellow characters Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

2016 UK Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p

A very special 50p was issued the same year, celebrating Beatrix Potter herself and features her silhouette and her emblem.

2016 UK Beatrix Potter 50p

This series of coins continued into 2017, 2018 and 2019. Fifteen Beatrix Potter coins have now been issued since 2016, each featuring one of Potter’s delightful characters, from Flopsy Bunny to Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Complete Beatrix Potter 50p Collection

Peter Rabbit is the only character to feature more than once in the Beatrix Potter 50p series, with no less than 5 coins issued to celebrated the nation’s favourite little rabbit.

Sadly, Peter Rabbit’s 50p tale has now come to an end. It has been confirmed that the 2020 50p will be the very last UK Peter Rabbit 50p to be issued!

Which Beatrix Potter coins are the rarest?

To celebrate the release of this brand-new Peter Rabbit 50p, we’ve taken a look back at the mintage figures for the different Beatrix Potter 50ps to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation

Beatrix Potter 50p Mintage Figures

Following the release of the 2018 mintage figures, we’ve seen the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny 50ps take joint top spot on the Beatrix Potter Mintage Chart. With mintages of just 1,400,000, these coins are the rarest Beatrix Potter coins in circulation and have already proved incredibly popular with collectors!

We also saw the 2018 Mrs. Tittlemouse claim its spot on the podium, pushing Jemima Puddle-Duck – previously thought of as the rarest Beatrix Potter 50p in circulation – further down the chart, with a circulating mintage of 1,700,000.

So collectors that have held onto their 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps will be delighted to see this! If you don’t have these coins in your collection yet, now’s the time to keep your eyes out to hunt down these sought-after 50ps.

4 years on from his initial release, it’s safe to say that Peter Rabbit inspired a whole new generation of collectors to start checking their change.

I have no doubt that the 2020 Peter Rabbit 50p will prove as popular as the previous years, and I’m sure collectors and Peter Rabbit fans alike will be chasing this rascally rabbit right into their collections.


Secure this brand new 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p in Brilliant Uncirculated Quality

2020 UK Peter Rabbit CERTIFIED BU 50p

This is your chance to be ahead of the crowd and secure the very last Peter Rabbit 50p in superior Brilliant Uncirculated condition for just £4.50 (+p&p).

Secure the 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p to your collection here