World Book Day is recognised across the globe as an opportunity to celebrate great books and authors. But more excitingly for Change Checkers, it’s an opportunity to take a look at which of these great books and authors have been commemorated on UK coins!
In recent years, we’ve seen some classic British books and authors celebrated on UK coinage, from Jane Austen to Julia Donaldson’s much-loved Gruffalo. Take a look below to find out what these coins are and where their designs came from.
Beatrix Potter 50p series – Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit has sold some 150 million copies since its release in 1903. The much-loved children’s character was initially featured on a 50p coin in 2016.
First issued as a series of five coins featuring Peter Rabbit and his friends the 50ps designs by Emma Noble, were taken straight from the illustrations of the original books. These 50p coins started an unprecedented collecting phenomenon and have been so hugely popular the series has been continued throughout 2017 and 2018 with the release of a further eight 50p coins. The question is, will we see more of these coins in 2019?
Shakespeare £2 set – In the 400 years since his death, William Shakespeare has become widely regarded as the greatest writer in British history and the world best dramatist. In 2016 The Royal Mint struck three official £2 coins in honour of the playwright – a first for the UK. Each coin celebrates an aspects of Shakespeare’s famous work, tragedies, comedies and histories, all designed by John Bergdahl.
Jane Austen £2 – It might come as a surprise to some collectors that it was only after Austen’s death in 1817 that her works were sent out to print. In 2017 The Royal Mint issued a £2 coin to commemorate 200 years since her death; the reverse design, by Dominique Evans, features a portrait of Austen herself and was approved by leading Jane Austen Academic, Professor John Mullan.
Frankenstein £2 – Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ is widely regarded as the first science-fiction novel. To celebrate 200 years since publication, The Royal Mint issued the Frankenstein £2 coin in 2018. The design, by Royal Mint designer Thomas T. Docherty, portrays ECG monitor style wording of ‘Frankenstein’. The coin also features the edge lettering ‘A SPARK OF BEING’ which is a quote taken from the novel.
Paddington Bear 50p pair – Struck to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the classic book, two Paddington Bear 50p coins were issued in 2018. The design on each coin is derived from the modern film adaptation of the book and shows the much-loved bear at Paddington Station and at Buckingham Palace. Collectors and Paddington fans alike have been thrilled with the detail on the coins, designed by David Knapton, from Paddington’s famous duffle coat to the label around his neck that reads ‘Please look after this Bear, thank you.’
The Snowman 50p – To celebrate 40 years of Raymond Briggs’ classic tale, The Royal Mint issued this particularly special, festive commemorative Snowman 50p in November of 2018 that would not enter general circulation. Briggs’ characters are brought to life by designer Natasha Ratcliffe as the boy and the snowman soar through the night sky together. The design was approved by Robin Shaw, assistant director of The Snowman and The Snowdog animation, to ensure the detail was perfect.
The Nutcracker £5 – The Nutcracker story is renowned, and just like coins, it has a long history with Christmas. This £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate Christmas 2018; the reverse design by Harry Brockway shows an enchanted Christmas Nutcracker scene. £5 coins are reserved for the most important Royal and Historical anniversaries, which shows the significance of this Nutcracker £5.
The Gruffalo 50p – Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo was first published in 1999 and to celebrate 20 years of the world’s best-loved monster, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p, featuring The Gruffalo, which will not be entering general circulation. The reverse image was designed by Magic Light Pictures themselves and features The Gruffalo as seen in the modern film adaptation. The Gruffalo 50p has seen remarkable popularity since its release last month and is proving a firm favourite with collectors.
It’s hard to believe we’ve had all these coin releases celebrating British authors and stories in just the last few years.
What’s more, in 2019 we’ll also see the release of a further two coins celebrating famous British authors – a £2 coin to mark 350 years since the famous diarist, Samuel Pepys’, last Diary Entry and a brand new 50p coin to celebrate the prolific writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s, famous detective stories featuring the fictional Sherlock Holmes. Although the designs for these coins have already been released they are not yet available to buy or find in your change – keep your eyes out for their releases later this year!
What authors and books would you like to see on UK coins in future? Let us know below and comment on what your favourite author, story and coin is!
You can now secure some of Britain’s Best Loved Coins featuring your favourite authors and book characters in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.
As collectors, we often find ourselves focusing on the commemorative coins that turn up in our change, but how often do we pay attention to the definitive designs?
We wouldn’t normally combine definitive and commemorative mintage figures into one chart, however the comparative figures give us an interesting insight into the change in our pockets and actually go to show why the definitive coin designs deserve your attention…
50p Mintage Figures
Our latest charts featuring the updated commemorative coin mintage figures revealed the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p as the second rarest UK 50p in circulation after the Kew Gardens, with a mintage of just 1,801,500. This knocked Jemima Puddle Duck off the second spot with a whopping 298,500 less coins being struck.
Change Checkers had already shown a great response to the Sir Isaac Newton coin, voting it their favourite coin design of the year in 2017. But now, as we delve deeper into the mintage figures for not only commemorative 50p coins but also the definitive designs, an unlikely rival has pipped the 2017 Isaac Newton to the post to claim the title of the second rarest UK 50p coin in circulation…
You might be surprised by the second rarest 50p in circulation…
The chart above features the mintage figures for every commemorative and definitive UK 50p coin in circulation and whilst the Kew Gardens still remains king, it came as a surprise that the second rarest 50p was actually a definitive rather than a commemorative design.
The 2017 Royal Shield 50p has a mintage of just 1,800,000 which means there are 1,500 less coins than the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p. This is by far the lowest mintage figure for any definitive 50p coin, with the next rarest definitive coin having almost double the amount of coins struck – the 2008 Britannia with a mintage of 3,500,000.
Definitive 50p coin designs
Christopher Ironside’s Britannia design featured on all UK definitive coins from their first appearance in 1969 with the words ‘NEW PENCE’ inscribed above. The inscription was revised in 1982 to say ‘FIFTY PENCE’ and this design remained unchanged until 2008, when Matthew Dent’s Royal Shield design was introduced, featuring the third and fourth quarters of the Royal Arms.
It comes as no surprise that the majority of the definitive designs can be found towards the bottom of the chart, with the most common UK 50p in circulation being the 1997 Britannia. The old larger 50p and this smaller one were both dated 1997, however the larger coin was only struck as year sets, whereas the smaller circulated in very large numbers, with a mintage of 456,364,100.
The fact that the 2017 Benjamin Bunny commemorative 50p features in amongst the definitive designs goes to show just how many of this design were struck and how likely you’ll be to find one in your change.
We haven’t included the Olympic 50p coins in the mintage chart as this was a specially struck series, with low mintages figures for each coin. You can see the Olympic 50p mintage figures here >>
£2 Mintage Figures
When it comes to the £2 coins, the Commonwealth Games are some of the rarest in circulation. In fact, all four coins would be sat at the top of the mintage charts if it wasn’t for two 2015 coins…
The rarest definitive £2 coin revealed…
Many collectors will be aware of the 2015 Navy £2‘s low mintage figure of 650,000, making it the third rarest UK £2 coin in circulation, however many of us may not know that this coin is in fact joint third, as a definitive design from the same year also holds the same low mintage figure.
In 2015, the new definitive £2 coin was introduced, with a design featuring the Britannia, replacing the Technology design which had featured on the coin since 1997. Britannia has featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years, apart from after 2008 when she was dropped from the 50p coin. She received a welcome return to British coinage for the 2015 definitive £2, but with so few coins being struck, this coin has become the third rarest UK £2 coin in circulation.
The 2016 version of the coin had a higher mintage of 2,925,000, but this is still incredibly low when compared to the 1998 Technology £2, which has a mintage of 91,110,375.
Of course the most common £2 coin you’re likely to come across in your change is the Technology £2, which dominates the bottom of the chart. The rarest of the Technology £2 coins is actually the 2005 issue, with a mintage of 3,837,250, making it the eighteenth rarest UK £2 in circulation.
You may have noticed a lack of 2017 coins on the £2 chart as to date The Royal Mint haven’t confirmed if they will enter circulation. Based on The Royal Mint’s figures, we know that no 2017 Britannia coins were struck for circulation.
I was certainly surprised by the rarity of some of the definitive designs shown on the charts above and will be checking the dates of the coins in my change very carefully to see if I can find any rarer ones for myself, but will you be doing the same?
Your chance to own the 2017 Britannia £2
This coin wasn’t struck for circulation, however you can own this coin as part of the 2017 Royal Mint Annual set.
But you’ll have to be quick, as this set is no longer on sale at The Royal Mint.
Welcome to the first Scarcity Index of 2019! We’re delighted to share with you the latest update to the A-Z 10p, 50p and £2 coin indexes, so that you can see where your coins now rank.
This information has been compiled using data from the Change Checker Swap Centre (find out how it works here) and presented in the easy to use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved on the Scarcity Index to help you track the performance of your coins.
A-Z 10p Scarcity Index
Although the A-Z of Great Britain 10ps are notoriously hard to find, we’ve now started to see more and more of these coins being added to people’s collections on the Change Checker app, and we’re able to use this data to build up an even more accurate picture of how sought-after each design is, using our Scarcity Index.
As you can see, now that we have more data to base the index on, there has been a lot of movement from the previous update. Whilst this was to be expected, we have seen some dramatic changes, in particular with ‘S’ for Stonehenge, which has jumped from the bottom to the top spot and is currently the scarcest A-Z 10p!
‘K’ for King Arthur has also jumped up by a massive 23 places and is now the second scarcest A-Z 10p. Finishing off our top 3 is ‘L’ for Loch Ness Monster, which has moved up the index by 9 places.
Down at the bottom of the index, we’ve seen ‘V’ for Villages drop 9 places, ranking it as our most common A-Z 10p. There was a 16 place drop for ‘I’ for Ice Cream, making it the second most common amongst Change Checkers. And finally, sitting in the third to last spot is ‘A’ for Angel of the North, which is actually one of only three coins to remain in the same position as the previous index.
‘F’ for Fish and Chips and ‘P’ for Postbox are other coins to keep your eye out for, as they have both jumped up significantly since the previous index.
Whilst we now have a lot more A-Z 10ps being listed in people’s collections, there are still relatively few swap requests for these coins, so it seems likely that if people are managing to find the coins, they are possibly keeping hold of them and only swapping the duplicates that they may be lucky enough to find.
The Scarcity Index will continue to become more accurate as more data is collected and the coins are swapped more often.
50p Scarcity Index
It comes as no surprise that the Kew Gardens remains king of the 50p Scarcity Index and the Olympic Football 50p still holds onto its place in second spot.
We’ve seen a bit of a shuffle amongst the Olympic Judo, Wrestling and Triathlon 50p coins, with Judo now retaking its place as the third scarcest 50p in circulation, following its fall 2 places on the previous index.
Towards the bottom of the index, we’ve seen the Team GB 50p move up 9 places, which has caused many of the lower scoring coins to move down 1 or 2 places, although our bottom 3 coins remain unchanged since the previous index.
The Girl Guides 50p has also seen a rise in scarcity, jumping 7 places up the index.
As the 2018 50p coins have now been found in circulation and are being swapped on the Change Checker App, we look forward to adding them to the Scarcity Index once mintage figures are confirmed.
£2 Scarcity Index
We’ve seen minimal changes on the £2 Scarcity Index, possibly due to the fact that the 2017 coins have not yet been released into circulation.
There has been a small shuffle amongst the Commonwealth Games £2 coins, however these coins remain the scarcest of the UK £2 coins in circulation due to their incredibly low mintage figures.
Whilst a few coins have moved 1 or 2 places on the index, the majority of £2 coins seem to have held on to their rating since the last update to the index, but it will be interesting to see what changes occur for the next update.
How your Scarcity Index works
Generally collectors have had to rely upon 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.
Additionally, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – the poignant First World War £2 Coin series being an example. 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 allowing Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.
How much are my coins worth?
The Scarcity Index does not necessarily equate to value but it is certainly an effective indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 160 times face value on eBay.
You can use the 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.
What about £1 Coins?
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
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app