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!


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A brand new United Kingdom 50p series has been announced and the news is so colossal it’s sure to shake the coin collecting community!

2020 UK Dinosauria 50p Series

The new series celebrates the Discovery of Dinosaurs with three brand new 50p coins.

British anatomist Richard Owen proposed the term ‘Dinosauria’ in 1842 and this comprised the first three dinosaurs to be discovered – the Megalosaurus, Iguanodon, and Hylaeosaurus.

Excitingly, this is the FIRST-TIME ever Dinosaurs have featured on UK coinage so we’re very excited by this numismatic first!

What’s more, this new series of 50p coins has been issued in partnership with the Natural History Museum so the coins are sure to be popular with palaeontologists and collectors alike!

So without further delay, let’s take a closer look at the designs of these coins…

Iguanodon 50p

The second coin in the incredibly popular Dinosauria 50p series has JUST been released and features the Iguanodon.

2020 UK Iguanodon CERTIFIED BU 50p

Distinctively, the Iguanodon had large spikes on their thumbs which you can see clearly in the intricate details of the coin design.

It is thought these spikes could have been used for defence against predators. As Iguanodons were large herbivores, it is unlikely these would have been used for hunting.

This 50p is available in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated Quality. You can secure this coin to your collection here.

Megalosaurus 50p

The first coin in the series was released in February and features the Megalosaurus Rex.

2020 UK Megalosaurus CERTIFIED BU 50p

‘Megalosaurus’ translates to mean ‘Great Lizard’ and I think it definitely lives up to its name!

Living on earth around 166 million years ago, this great dinosaur could reach up to nine meters in length!

As the first coin in the Dinosaur series, this 50p is available in Gold Proof, Silver Proof and Brilliant Uncirculated Quality.

Hylaeosaurus 50p

The third and final coin in the series features the Hylaeosaurus which translates to mean ‘belonging to the forest’.

2020 UK Hylaeosaurus CERTIFIED BU 50p

It is estimated this dinosaur was around five metres long, however limited remains have been found of this particular species.

As with the other two coins, this 50p has been designed by Robert Nicholls and this is the first series he has designed for UK coins – we think he’s smashed it!

This is the final coin in this series and will be officially released later in the year. However, if you want to make sure you don’t miss out on completing the series, you can pre-order it here.

So there we have it! A good look at the brand new United Kingdom 50p series celebrating the Discovery of Dinosaurs.

As this is the first time Dinosaurs have ever featured on UK coinage, the coins have been issued in partnership with the Natural History Museum, AND they are brand new UK 50ps (the most collected coin in the country!) we’re certain this series is going to be immensely popular with collectors.

Do you have a favourite coin from the series? Let us know in the comments below!


2020 UK Iguanodon CERTIFIED BU 50p

Do you want to add this exciting new 50p to your collection? Click here to secure yours today in superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality!

2020 UK Iguanodon CERTIFIED BU 50p

Change Checkers on the Isle of Man are in for a real treat as, for the first time ever, Rupert Bear & co are featuring on new 50p coins – and we think they’re just bearilliant!

Rupert Bear was created in 1920 by Mary Tourtel as a cartoon for the Daily Express newspaper and his adventures continue up to this day, celebrating his 100th anniversary in 2020.

I’m sure many collectors out there will have fond memories of growing up with Rupert Bear and will be just as excited as we are by the release of these new 50p coins.

The world’s first Rupert Bear 50p coin

To celebrate this exciting centenary anniversary, the Isle of Man have issued the first ever Rupert Bear 50p coin.

2020 Rupert Bear 50p available in Brilliant Uncirculated, Coloured Silver Proof and Gold Proof quality

The coin is available in Brilliant Uncirculated quality and stunning .925 Sterling Silver, finished to a proof standard and featuring a full colour illustration of the famous bear, exactly as he appears in the classic comic strip series.

But for those collectors looking to secure something extra special, an incredibly limited amount of just 250 coins struck from 22 Carat Gold to a Proof finish are also available.

2020 Rupert Bear 50p obverse design by Jody Clark

The obverse of each coin features a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen designed by engraver Jody Clark and you’ll notice that this looks different to the obverse of our UK change due to the inclusion of the Queen’s shoulders within the portrait.

Coin collectors and fans of the British bear alike will be delighted with this coin, but the fun doesn’t stop there as Rupert has also been joined by his friends on a special set of five 50p coins…

Complete Rupert Bear & co Collection

2020 Rupert Bear Complete 50p Set in Brilliant Uncirculated quality

Each of the reverse designs feature some of the best-loved characters from the comic strip – including Rupert Bear, Podgy Pig, Bill Badger, Edward Trunk and Algy Pug.

And the best news is that this set is available in both superior Brilliant Uncirculated and stunning Silver Proof quality featuring full colour illustrations of these fantastic characters.

2020 Rupert Bear Complete 50p Set in Silver Proof quality featuring full colour illustrations

These sets are the only way you can own all five coins in superior quality, and that’s because none of the designs (aside from the Rupert Bear 50p) will be available to purchase individually.

Isle of Man Change Checkers are in for a treat!

Excitingly for those lucky Change Checkers on the Isle of Man, these 50p coins are legal tender on the island and an initial release of 25,000 of each design will be issued into circulation!

However, as collectors know, British Isles 50p coins like this rarely turn up in your change in the UK, making these 50ps some of the most sought-after circulating coins around.

What’s more, previous Isle of Man 50p coins have proved popular with collectors time and again, often selling for well over face value on the secondary market.

Some of the most popular Isle of Man circulation coins feature The Snowman and can be found selling for hundreds of pounds of eBay.

2003 Isle of Man Snowman 50p eBay sold listings

We’re sure that British Isles collectors will be quick to snap up the new Rupert Bear 50p coins, so keep your eyes out for them if you’re lucky enough to be on the Isle of Man.

LIMITED EDITION

The 50p has firmly established itself as the collector’s favourite and Silver Proof 50ps are known for their rapid sell-out history, making them some of the most sought-after issues around.

Not only this, the Isle of Man is renowned for their low edition limits due to the small population of just 84,000 inhabitants on the island.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that these coins are so very limited…

Just 4,950 of the Rupert Bear Silver Proof 50p coins and just 2,495 of the Rupert Bear Silver Proof Complete 50p Sets are available to collectors worldwide – a significantly low amount given the immense popularity of Rupert Bear for multiple generations.

SELL-OUT EXPECTED

Comparing Rupert Bear to the incredible Royal Mint sell-out success of the UK Gruffalo Silver Proof 50p which had an edition limit of 25,000 (more than five times the edition limit of Rupert Bear), you’ll understand just how sought-after these coins are going to be.

Sold-out 2019 Gruffalo Silver 50p

And of course, who could forget the phenomenal Peter Pan 50p coins released by the Isle of Man last year?

These magical coins had the collecting world spellbound, with collectors queueing on the Westminster Collection’s site for the chance to purchase the new coins.

2019 Peter Pan Complete 50p Set in Silver Proof quality featuring full colour illustrations

And so the message for anyone interested in securing the brand new Rupert Bear 50ps is to act quickly, particularly when it comes to those Silver Proof coins, as a sell-out is expected.

We think these coins are a fantastic tribute to Rupert Bear’s 100th anniversary and are simply adorable! But what do you think about this new release? Let us know in the comments below!


Secure the world’s first Rupert Bear 50p!

Click here to add the Rupert Bear 50p coin to your British Isles collection from just £6.25 (+p&p).