First Trust Bank, one of four main banks in Northern Ireland, will become the first Northern Ireland-based bank to end the practice of printing its own-denomination banknotes. The bank revealed it will scrap its own banknotes next year and switch to dispensing Bank of England notes from its ATM network.
Although the UK has a vast variety of different notes in circulation, The Bank of England is the only bank to issue notes for England and Wales, while there are seven different banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland that currently produce their own notes.
The decision is thought to be an economic issue and means that all existing First Trust banknotes will not be able to be used for payments from midnight on 30th June 2022. They can however be exchanged for Bank of England banknotes, or other sterling banknotes of equivalent value at Post Offices up until 30th June 2024.
Why do Scotland and Northern Ireland issue their own banknotes?
The UK has a vast variety of different notes in circulation and although those of us living in England and Wales don’t see many, there are three different banks in Scotland and four in Northern Ireland that currently produce their own notes.
In fact the tradition of printing banknotes was considered the norm centuries ago as most of the UK’s banks produced their own banknotes. However over time they weren’t all doing it responsibly and were not able to back the notes up with actual assets. The law changed in the 1840’s in England and Wales so all production of banknotes was moved to The Bank of England bar Scotland who argued for an exception as they were not having the same issues. The Bank Notes Act of 1928 allowed banks in Northern Ireland to produce their own notes.
For people living in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the banknotes are part of the furniture and a part of their cultural identity that usually feature local landmarks and historical figures. These issuing banks have also considered the notes as part of their marketing as customers are seeing the name of their banks in their hands as they spend cash.
Can you spend Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes in England?
Yes. The notes are legal currency and backed with physical assets with the Bank of England so can technically be accepted anywhere in the UK. However, the problems come as shops are not always overly familiar with all the different types of notes and may not be sure on how to check them for counterfeiting so don’t like to accept them.
Is this the beginning of the end for Northern Irish and Scottish banknotes?
The decision is scrap the printing of banknotes at First Trust Bank is thought to be an economic issue and comes as other Northern Ireland banks prepare for the change over to modern Polymer notes in the very near future. The update is needed in order to produce counterfeit resilient notes to protect against forgery and ensure the security of circulating notes. But this costly change could be too much for First Trust handle.
There are also a lot fewer of these notes changing hands and with the increasing use of digital payment methods and mobile technology, it could be the reasoning behind the decision to scrap the notes.
The other three Northern Irish banks are currently in various stages of issuing their own polymer £5, £10 and £20 notes and it is clear that Scotland are completely committed to keeping their own notes as Clydesdale Bank was the first bank in the UK to issue a Polymer note back in 2015.
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 for circulation coins 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.
When it comes to coin collecting, whilst the thrill is in the find, it really is the icing on the cake when you manage to find a particularly rare coin which is worth more than its face value. However, all too often we are bombarded by press articles citing eBay listings of ‘rare’ or ‘error’ coins and, naturally, our interest is piqued when we hear about the coin we’ve just come across in our change ‘selling for thousands’.
Unfortunately though, these articles can often sensationalise the actual value of the coin and when taken out of context we can forget that anyone can list anything they like on eBay, for whatever price they choose, regardless of whether or not the item is genuinely worth it.
So to help you avoid the pitfalls of buying coins eBay, we’ve created our top 5 eBay buying tips at the bottom of this blog.
When a coin is listed for excessive amounts it draws attention to itself and all it takes is for the press to pick up on it for more people to start believing that the coin really is valuable and so the story grows. But in reality, these coins are not usually worth the price they are listed for and are very unlikely to actually sell. Even if the coin does sell at that price, there is no guarantee that the sale will actually go through.
How much is my Benjamin Britten 50p worth?
We’ve seen this time and again, particularly for the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p. In fact one of the most regular questions we get at Change Checker is: “I have a Benjamin Britten 50p – how much is it worth?“.
There’s no doubt that the Benjamin Britten 50p was somewhat overlooked when it was first released and it is amongst the slightly more scarce coins in circulation, but ask yourself this… would you pay £800 for one?
Whilst a brilliant uncirculated quality Benjamin Britten 50p might sell for around £10, you’re likely to come across a circulation quality coin in your change, as this 50p has a mintage figure of 5,300,000 and is ranked as common on our scarcity index.
Read our blog ‘So i thought my coin was worth £800…’ for more information.
But it’s not just Benjamin Britten – there are others… including the 2005 Gunpowder Plot ‘Pemember’ £2 and the 2012 Charles Dickens ‘error coin’, as well as the new coin releases such as the leaked Paddington 50p…
Gunpowder Plot £2 ‘error’
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.
Charles Dickens £2 ‘error’
The Charles Dickens £2 coin was issued by The Royal Mint in 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of one of Britain’s most famous and beloved writers. The design features Dickens’ recognisable profile crafted from the titles of his most famous works and is a favourite amongst collectors.
But recently, a number of stories have been popping up regarding the ‘errors’ people have noticed, such as fading dots around the centre part, upside down edge lettering and misspelling of the edge inscription. Unfortunately these aren’t errors, but are simply caused by the mass production process, the way obverses and reverses are struck and how the coin has worn down in circulation.
Paddington 50p leaked coins
The Paddington 50p coins were issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Michael Bond’s novel, “A Bear Called Paddington” and were some of the most sought-after coins of 2018, which is why collectors were particularly excited when some of the coins were discovered a few days before the official release…
The coins quickly made their way onto collectors’ forums and eBay, with one attracting a “sold price” of £16,000 – prompting interest from a number of national newspapers.
It’s highly unlikely that the transaction actually went through, and as the official launch date was just a few days later, we urged collectors to wait to be able to purchase the coin for just £3.99 instead.
We would always suggest caution and user discretion when buying and selling on eBay. To get a more realistic idea of what your coin could potentially sell for, view the ‘sold listings’ on eBay to see the actual prices buyers have been willing to pay, although again there is still no guarantee that these sales have all actually gone through.
Remember – even the rarest of all circulating 50p coins – 1992/93 EU Presidency – was sold by Change Checker for just £20.
So to help you get the most out of your money, we’ve created 5 eBay buying tips:
Tip 1) Check recently sold prices
Whilst coins can be listed on eBay for incredibly high prices, it doesn’t mean they will actually sell at this price. Make sure you search for ‘sold listings’ when researching how much buyers are currently willing to pay to check that your coin is in line with this.
Tip 2) Check if it can still be bought from official Royal Mint distributors
Take a look online at The Royal Mint’s website and on our site to see if the coin can still be bought from an official distributor, as this will affect the price of the coin on the secondary market. Buyers will be willing to pay more for a coin on the secondary market if it is no longer on sale at The Royal Mint.
Tip 3) Check if the coin is real or fake
The only way to know for certain that a coin is real is for it to be x-rayed, however there are some simple checks you can make yourself such as making sure the edge inscription and date matches the design and that the coin condition reflects the amount of time it’s been in circulation. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p has been in circulation for nearly 10 years, so a shiny Kew for sale on eBay is likely to be a fake unless it’s in the original packaging.
Tip 4) Check the coins rarity
Use our mintage charts and Scarcity Index to see how scarce the coin is and check our blogs to see if it has an interesting story that makes the coin more sought-after. Make sure you check for any errors that could add to the coins value, such as the wrong date or metal being used.
Tip 5) Check the coins condition
If the coin is in Brilliant Uncirculated quality it will most likely sell for more than a circulated coin which is more worn. Typically, the more worn the coin is, the less a buyer is likely to be willing to pay.
Remember you can also use our 6 point guide to valuing your coins to help you determine how much your coin might realistically be worth.
Best of luck buying and selling your 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