This year marks the 50th anniversary of arguably the most important moment in British numismatic history – the first coins issued for decimalisation.
In 1968, the British public would have found 5p and 10p coins in their change for the very first time, issued as part of Britain’s conversion to a system of decimal currency.
The coins bore new heraldic designs, but were exactly the same size and value as shillings and florins, which meant the changeover process should have been a smooth transition. However, after generations of pounds, shillings and pence, the Decimal Currency Board still needed to reassure suspicious Britons to go decimal – a case which had actually been argued as long ago as 1696 by Sir Christopher Wren.
It was the 1960 report by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and the British Association for the Advancement of Science which finally set into action a currency based upon simple multiples, a system already adopted by a number of Commonwealth countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
A massive number of coins were required for the changeover, forcing The Royal Mint to move location from Tower Hill to its new production facility in Llantrisant, South Wales, where the first of almost six billion coins required for decimalisation went into production.
It was then on the 23rd April 1968 that the new 5p and 10p coins went into circulation, operating as legal tender up to the sum of £5, with mintage figures of 98,868,250 and 336,143,250 respectively.
The humble 5p featured the Christopher Ironside reverse design until 2008 and has since featured Matthew Dent’s reverse design, following a public competition held by The Royal Mint. On the 27th June 1990, a reduced size version of the coin was introduced and the older, larger coins were withdrawn on the 31st December 1990, although the design remained unchanged.
Similarly, the 10p coin also featured Christopher Ironside’s reverse design up until 2008 when this was replaced by Matthew Dent’s. However, the 10p remained a larger coin until the 30th September 1992, when the reduced size version was introduced, with the larger coin being removed from circulation a year later.
As we seem to move ever closer towards a cashless society, the questions lingers as to how long these decimalised coins will remain a necessity… However, this year’s release of 26 brand new A-Z of Great Britain 10p coin designs just goes to show that the demand for the smaller denomination coins is still there. In fact, these little coins have become incredibly sought-after and have dominated news stories and conversations amongst collectors, with everyone wanting to get their hands on the elusive coins!
Although the nation seemed reluctant to accept these decimal coins back in 1968, I think it’s fair to say that they have now become a much loved part of British coinage and as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first decimalised coins, we can look back with fondness for the 5p and 10p coins.
Own the very first coins issued for decimalisation!
The First Decimalised Coins include the original 5p and 10p coins from their first year of issue, 1968.
The latest Change Checker Scarcity Index update of 2018 is here and excitingly, we have now been able to put together our first ever A-Z 10p Scarcity Index!
This information has been compiled using data from the third quarter of the year and presented in the easy to use indexes below to help you track the performance of your coins.
FIRST EVER A to Z 10p Scarcity Index
As more coins are starting to appear in circulation and Change Checkers are adding them to their collection, we are now able to use this data to put together the very first A-Z 10p Scarcity Index.
Initially, 2.6 million A-Z 10p coins were released, however recent news has revealed that another 2.6 million coins have now entered circulation! Therefore, we have estimated a mintage figure of 200,000 for each design in order to put together this index, combining mintage figures with the number of each coin listed in Change Checker’s collections and the number of each coin requested to swap by Change Checkers.
The clear front runner is Z -Zebra Crossing, sitting 24 points ahead of the second place coin, M – Mackintosh. Whilst everyone seems to be struggling to find the A-Z 10ps, these top few coins appear to be the hardest to come across so far, whereas S – Stonehenge, K – King Arthur and A – Angel of the North seem to be the most common. A – Angel of the North was actually the top design for the A-Z 10p Swap Index, suggesting it is most popular and therefore being swapped more often if people are finding multiples of this design.
It is only early days in terms of creating a fully accurate Scarcity Index for these coins, as we still await confirmed mintage figures for each design, and of course it is possible that this may change as more coins are found in circulation.
50p Scarcity Index
We’ve seen a lot of movement on the 50p index this quarter, possibly due to the high numbers of 2017 Beatrix Potter 50ps which have now entered circulation.
The Battle of Britain and 2016 Beatrix Potter 50p have both jumped up the index, but the most significant increase goes to the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p, which actually has the second lowest mintage figure for any commemorative 50p in circulation. This coin has moved up 12 places this quarter, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it continue to improve.
Of course, Kew Gardens still remains the most scarce UK 50p coin with a mintage figure of just 210,000 and in fact, our top 6 coins have remained consistent since last quarter.
£2 Scarcity Index
We’re still waiting on the 2017 WW1 Aviation and Jane Austen £2 coins to enter circulation, and so there hasn’t been much movement for the £2 index this quarter.
The ever popular Commonwealth Games £2 coins remain at the top, although Wales has now moved down to become the least popular of the four. Our final 8 remain consistent and the only major movement goes to the Wireless Transmission £2 coin, which has fallen 7 places down the index.
We’re eagerly awaiting the newer coins to enter circulation, which I’m sure will then cause a significant re-shuffle of the leaderboard!
How the 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.
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
Cabot Circus Shopping Centre
Bristol’s Cabot Circus Shopping Centre has 90 stylish shops for you to explore and a wide choice of restaurants and refreshments, making for the perfect day out.
Find us at Site E: George White Street, near to Tiger, Fossil and Zara.
The full address is: Cabot Circus Shopping Centre, Glass House, Penn St, Bristol BS1 3BX
Can I swap more than one coin?
Such is the popularity of our Live Coin Swaps and to ensure that it is fair for everybody, we’ll be limiting the number of swaps to strictly 1 coin per person.
Can I choose which A-Z of Great Britain 10p I swap?
It’s a lucky dip, so the coin you pick will be the coin you take away with you. Due to how popular we expect the event to be, I’m afraid we will be unable to offer specific A-Z 10p coin designs.
Will you be doing any more Live Coin Swaps?
That’s the plan!
We will be holding more Live Coin Swaps in the future and the plan is to visit a different area of the country each time, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to attend.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Secure your Complete A-Z 10p Set today!
Can’t wait to complete your collection?
Own all 26 A-Z 10p coins in ‘Early Strike’ quality and receive a FREE collector’s medal!