A History of Britannia on UK Coinage

The allegorical figure of Britannia has had a presence on our coins from as early as the Roman era, to as recently as the end of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Let’s take a closer look into the history of Britannia on our coinage, and why some coins she features on may be worth keeping an eye on! 

A collection of UK coins featuring Britannia
A collection of UK coins featuring Britannia

Britannia’s debut on coins

Britannia is a fictional representation of Britain itself, and first appeared on our coins in Roman times.

This original interpretation of her can be seen wielding a spear and a shield on the rocks, and was created during the reign of Emperor Hadrian all the way back in 119 AD. She remained on Roman coins for some time, but later vanished from our coinage for 1,532 years!

Roman coins featuring Britannia
Roman coins featuring Britannia

A millennium later

In 1672, King Charles II brought Britannia back to lift the nations’ spirits. Seen over the waves, she keeps a spear in one hand, but this time holds an olive sprig in the other, as a symbol of peace. The shield remains, perched at her side, but it’s now embellished with the union flag.

1672 Farthing Reverse
Credit: Numista

At this point in time, the work of the navy was especially crucial in securing power, trade and success, and Britannia’s image became an emblem of Britain’s maritime prowess. This was further cemented by iterations of Britannia from 1797 onwards showing her with a trident in her right hand instead of a spear.

1797 Penny Reverse
Credit: The Royal Mint Museum

Her portrait changed once again in 1825, where she can be seen with the addition of a Roman helmet, a nod to her origins on Roman coins

1825 1/2 Penny Reverse
Credit: Numista

Many monarchs featured Britannia consistently on their coinage after her reintroduction in 1672 until 1971, mostly on bronze or copper coins. In 1987, her likeness was even used for gold bullion coins by the Royal Mint.

Britannia on UK decimal coins

Since it’s decimal introduction in 1969, Britannia could be found on definitive 50p coins all the way up to 2008, when her portrait was replaced by the Royal Shield design. This change caused an uproar within the coin collecting community and beyond, and even lead to a petition, as many felt she should remain on our 50p coin. 

1969 Britannia 50p
1969 Britannia 50p

After a small break from circulating coinage, Britannia made a triumphant return as the face of the definitive £2 coin which was released in 2015. 

2016 Britannia £2
2016 Britannia £2

The rarest definitive £2

This coin would go on to become the rarest definitive £2 coin to date, with the 2015 Britannia £2 coin securing a mintage of only 650,000! But why were so few minted?

Well both Technology and Britannia designs entered circulation in 2015, and with a massive 35,360,058 Technologies minted, there wasn’t the demand for a large amount of Britannias. The following year, only 2,925,000 Britannia £2s were minted, but after that, we didn’t see any new ones in our change until 2021 and 2022.

2015 Britannia £2
The 2015 Britannia £2 has a mintage figure of just 650,000

According to our most recent eBay Tracker, a 2015 dated Britannia £2 can fetch you as much as £6.24 on the secondary market, that’s over x3 its face value!  

There is also an error version of this coin you can look out for, where the portrait on the obverse of the coin is misaligned by a 150 degree angle! 

The 2015 £2 isn’t the only rare coin to feature Britannia however – as the 2008 Britannia 50p has a mintage of just 3,500,000 – which is far less than previous years! The mintage was so low in fact, that it brought down the average of the Britannia 50p as a whole, causing it to become ‘Less common’ on our Scarcity Index. 

Will we see Britannia again?

Do you have any coins featuring Britannia in your collection? Perhaps you even have one of the rare or error versions of these coins, comment below!

This year, we can expect to see the new King Charles III definitive £2 entering circulation, so I wonder if we’ll see Britannia again on our circulating coins? Let us know what you think…


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A Legendary New Coin – The Maid Marian £5

They say behind every great man is a great woman…and that’s true for the Myths and Legends series, as the Robin Hood £5 is followed by the 2024 Maid Marian £5!

2024 UK Maid Marian £5
2024 UK Maid Marian £5

A striking design

The reverse design, by Jody Clark, shows the heroine framed amongst the foliage of Sherwood Forest, with native English foliage including oak leaves and ferns encroaching from the edge of the coin. Marian was known to be a skilful archer, and so she’s pictured with her bow and arrow upon her back.

When talking about his design on the Maid Marian £5, Jody Clark said ‘I wanted to show the connections between each legendary outlaw’s persona and the forest, which serves as both a sanctuary and a strategic ally’.

2024 UK Maid Marian £5 Reverse and Obverse
2024 UK Maid Marian £5 Reverse and Obverse

To highlight the dynamic design, your 2024 UK Maid Marian £5 has been struck to a Brilliant Uncirculated quality – the standard favoured among collectors.

Who is Maid Marian?

Maid Marian didn’t actually feature in any early, medieval versions of the Robin Hood legend, but began to appear in plays and stories in the 1600s. However, despite being a late-comer to the story, Marian has become a very important part of the Robin Hood legend.

Illustration of Maid Marian from Wood 401(21)
Illustration of Maid Marian from Wood 401(21)
Credit: Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Known as Robin Hood’s one true love, English folklore depicts Maid Marian as courageous and independent as well as beautiful and loyal. It’s thought that her name was derived from her refusal to marry until Robin Hood and his merry men had received a King’s pardon, as before the 17th century, unmarried women were called maids.

Maid Marian has been portrayed in countless plays, movies, TV shows and other media, usually in human form, but some of you may remember Marian best as Hood’s foxy love interest in the 1973 Disney film ‘Robin Hood’.

Previously in the Myths and Legends series…

The 2024 Maid Marian £5 coin follows on from the Robin Hood £5, however the first three coins in the series focused on Arthurian Legends. The series kicked off with King Arthur, followed by mythical wizard Merlin and the Arthurian Legends collection concluded with shapeshifter and witch, Morgan Le Fay.

2024 Robin Hood £5
Arthurian Legends £5 coins 
King Arthur, Merlin and Morgan le Fay
Arthurian Legends £5 coins
King Arthur, Merlin and Morgan le Fay

Continue your Myths and Legends collection

Secure your 2024 UK Maid Marian £5 for just £13.99 (+p&p) >>

It’s all change in our latest Scarcity Index Update!

So you think you’ve found a rare coin in your change, but how do you know how scarce it really is? Well, mintage figures only tell part of the story…

Our Scarcity Index uses data from the Change Checker Swap Centre to determine just how scarce and sought-after your coins are. The information is presented in the easy-to-use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved since the last Scarcity Index update.

50p Scarcity Index

It’s all change on our latest 50p index, with all but 3 coins moving at least 1 place.

Of course, right at the top is a non mover, the Kew Gardens 50p, closely followed by the Olympic Judo 50p. A select few Olympic 50ps regularly move around at the top of the list, however after climbing to 2nd place in our last index, the Judo 50p holds its spot and surprisingly, the coveted Football 50p has been bumped down slightly.

On to the big movers…and one Olympic 50p that has dropped a massive 34 places is the Boccia 50p, putting it back to where it was about a year ago. Also moving down is the 2018 Peter Rabbit 50p which has gone down 35 places and the Paddington at St Paul’s Cathedral 50p which has dropped 16 places.

2018 Peter Rabbit 50p
The 2018 Peter Rabbit 50p fell by 35 places

It’s not all bad news for the 50ps though, because the Roger Bannister 50p and the Ironside 50p have climbed 17 and 14 places respectively. The Roger Bannister 50p has a mintage of just over 9 million and the Ironside 50p 7 million, making them some of the more common commemorative 50ps in circulation, so this shakeup on the index is definitely interesting. 

2004 Roger Bannister 50p
The 2004 Roger Bannister 50p climbed 17 places

Other notable movers are the Fencing 50p which has dropped 13 places, and the Taekwondo, Boxing, Volleyball and Canoeing 50ps which have all climbed 8 places.

If you’re new to collecting and want to find out more about circulation coins, you can check out our fact files here >>

Otherwise, keep reading to find out which 10ps and £2 coins you should be looking out for.

10p Scarcity Index

Once again, the A-Z 10p Scarcity Index has had quite a shake up, with only 4 coins staying put since our last update.  

Coins climbing up the ranks include the O for Oak 10p which has risen by 9 places and the K for King Arthur and I for Ice Cream 10ps which both shot up by 6 places.

Falling almost to the bottom of the index is the N for NHS 10p which went down by 12 places since our last update and the F for Fish and Chips 10p which fell by 9 places.

The N for NHS 10p fell by 12 places

*Note*
It’s worth remembering that this Index only ranks the 10ps against each other, when really even the ones at the bottom of the list are still incredibly sought-after. And that’s no surprise, as a maximum of JUST 304,000 of each A-Z 10p design entered circulation across 2018 and 2019.

It’s thought that a large percentage of these 10ps have been snapped up by collectors, leaving a limited amount still in circulation, so make sure you keep an eye out for them in your change!

£2 Scarcity Index

We usually see less movement on the £2 index due to the fact that less coins have entered circulation in recent years, however this time, there have been some big movers.

Climbing an impressive 13 places is the Shakespeare Tragedies £2, which was previously 1 place from the very bottom of the index. Out of the 3 Shakespeare coins, the Comedies £2 has the lowest mintage figure, however this one has fallen by just one place.

The Shakespeare Tragedies £2 shot up 13 places

Another surprising change is the Guinea £2 which has fallen by 17 places since our last update, putting it almost at the bottom of the index. When it was issued in 2013, just 2,990,000 Guinea £2 coins entered circulation, so despite it now ranking as common on our Scarcity Index, it’s still one of the rarer £2s out there.

And of course, the Commonwealth Games N. Ireland £2 remains at the top of the list due to it’s incredibly low mintage of just 485,000.


How your Scarcity Index works

Generally collectors have relied on mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins.  But they only tell part of the story.  

Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.

What’s more, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – for example the First World War £2 Coin series.

Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.

That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information:

  • How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin
  • The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand

Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs, the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly. This allows Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.


How much are my coins worth?

The Scarcity Index doesn’t necessarily equate to value, but it is certainly a good indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 200 times face value on eBay and is unsurprisingly top of the 50p Index.

You can use our 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.


What about £1 Coins?

The £1 Scarcity Index has already been published for the Round £1 coins. Because they are no longer being issued, this is now set in stone.


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