One-of-a-kind 50p Trial Piece sells for £1,850!

The Royal Mint held their trial pieces auction on 11th February 2024, and with more than 200 items available, it was their largest to date! The winning bids of the Brilliant Uncirculated 50p pieces varied, but there were some surprising figures – keep reading to find out which piece sold for nearly £1,900!

What is a Trial Piece?

When new coins are being designed, trial pieces are created to allow engineers at the Mint to experiment with different techniques. Some features on coins are ambitious, but by creating trial pieces during the testing process, this helps discover which features may not be viable.

Engineers usually produce between 7 and 30 die trial pieces per product before it is released to the public, depending on how complex the design is. When you consider how many of each coin go on to be created for collectors, these trial pieces are extremely rare and collectible.

Image Credit: The Royal Mint

Read our Trial of the Pyx blog to find out more about the production process and how your coins are quality assured >>

Usually, once a product has been tested and approved, most of the die trial pieces are destroyed, with only one of each retained for reference purposes. And, occasionally The Royal Mint holds an auction for these one-of-a-kind trial pieces, giving collectors the chance to get their hands on these unique coins.

If the fact that there is only one of each piece in existence wasn’t enough, each trial piece is also authenticated with a Trial Pieces mark on the obverse. The mark features the inscription ‘ROYAL MINT TRIAL’ around a special high security feature. This mark is easily visible on pieces featuring Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, however it’s much smaller and harder to spot on pieces with King Charles III’s obverse.

Trial Pieces Mark on the Queen Elizabeth II obverses
Trial Pieces Mark on the Queen Elizabeth II obverses
Credit: The Royal Mint Auctions
Trial Pieces Mark on the King Charles III obverses
Trial Pieces Mark on the King Charles III obverses
Credit: The Royal Mint Auctions

Big bids!

In the latest auction, a selection of trial pieces from 2022 and 2023 in various metal specifications were available, but we’ve taken a look at the winning bids on the Brilliant Uncirculated 50ps.

Unsurprisingly, the piece that fetched the most at auction was the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p Trial Piece, with a winning bid of £1,850! This was the first UK coin issued following the Queen’s passing, and the first to feature King Charles III on the obverse, making it highly collectable.

2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p
2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p

Sticking with the royal theme, the 2023 Coronation 50p Trial Piece sold for a whopping £1,100, but it didn’t quite make second place as the 2022 Harry Potter 50p Trial Piece snuck in there with a winning bid of £1,250!

2023 Coronation 50p
2023 Coronation 50p
2022 Harry Potter 50p
2022 Harry Potter 50p

Interestingly, whoever managed to secure the 2022 Harry Potter 50p Trial Piece is now the proud owner of a coin with a lenticular feature on both sides. The Harry Potter 50p series was the first time we’d ever seen a lenticular feature on a UK 50p coin, so to have TWO on the same coin is quite something!

Harry Potter 2022 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Trial Piece
Harry Potter 2022 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Trial Piece
Credit: The Royal Mint Auction

All of these pieces are highly sought after, and even the 2023 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 50p which sold for the lowest price of all the Brilliant Uncirculated 50ps still fetched 720 times its face value!

Are you one of the lucky ones?

The Trial Pieces auction is open to the general public, so we’d love to know if you have ever been lucky enough to win a bid for one of these special pieces. Or perhaps you’ve previously made a bid but didn’t manage to secure the piece – let us know in the comments below!

The story of the 1885 Trade Dollar worth $ millions!

We were recently asked to identify an unusual coin, which on first glance appeared to be a US Trade Dollar from 1885. However, once we started researching this coin, it became obvious that it must have been a fake.

Here’s why a genuine 1885 Trade Dollar would be impossible to find…

One of the rarest coins on the planet

Earlier this year, the finest known 1885 Trade Dollar was sold for an eye watering $3.9 million at Heritage Auctions! Whilst this US coin may not be familiar to UK Change Checkers, it is incredibly rare – perhaps one of the rarest coins on the planet.

1885 Trade Dollar. Credit:

The US Trade Dollar was designed by William Barber and features Lady Liberty seated on a pedestal of merchandise, facing across the sea and holding an olive branch. On the reverse an eagle holds branches ladon with berries within its talons – an iconic American image. This design remained unchanged besides minor modifications up until the last coin of the series was struck.

Creation of the Trade Dollar

Made from .900 Silver, these coins were struck primarily for trade with Asia and were competing against the other large silver trade coins which had already become popular in the East.

Silver Trade Dollars of East Asia. Credit:

The 1873 Coinage Act made these coins legal tender for payments up to five dollars and many made their way into American commercial channels, despite the majority being sent to Asia.

As their distribution across America became more widespread and the price of silver fell the coins were demonetised, although many 1873 – 1883 Trade Dollars can still be found on the secondary market today and are often sought-after by US collectors.

The greatest numismatic mystery…

In 1878, production of circulation strikes officially stopped. The Philadelphia Mint continued to strike Trade Dollars after this, however the coins were only issued in proof quality for numismatic purposes.

Secon Philadelphia Mint. 1833 – 1901
Credit: Moses King, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It was initially believed that the final year of production was 1883, however over two decades later, 1884 and 1885 dated Trade Dollars created a sensation when they appeared on the secondary market.

Incredibly, just 10 1884 proof quality Trade Dollars were struck and more astonishing still is that only 5 of these coins were struck in 1885!

Imagine how exciting it would have been to first find out about these secret coins, and how desperate American collectors must have been to get their hands on one!

Lack of documentation means the origins behind their creation still remains one of the greatest numismatic mysteries… It’s actually thought that employees from the Philadelphia Mint secretively struck the coins after production was halted.

Sold for $3.9 million!

All 5 coins from 1885 are now accounted for and are owned in private collections, meaning the public rarely get the chance to see these coins exhibited.

A few of the 1885 Trade Dollars have sold at private auction, reaching phenomenal prices.

One of the finest specimens from the Eliasberg Collection appeared at Heritage Auctions this year and sold for $3.9 million!

President of Heritage Auctions, Greg Rohan said, “Owning the finest-known [1885 Trade Dollar] specimen is to own an enduring symbol of numismatic and American history.”

Celebrating the $3.9 million sale of the finest-graded 1885 Trade dollar is (from left to right) Greg Rohan, President of Heritage Auctions, Dell Loy Hansen, the new owner of the finest known 1885 Trade dollar and John Brush, President of David Lawrence Rare Coins. Credit: Heritage Auctions,

So, whilst the 1885 Trade Dollar would be an exceptional coin for any collector to come across, as all 5 1885 Trade Dollars are accounted for, the only explanation for the coin we were asked to look at is that unfortunately it must have been a fake.

It really would be amazing to be able to own a coin as rare as this though! What would you do if you came across such a unique coin in your change?

There are so many fascinating stories about different coins from all around the world and if you have a story about a rare or unusual coin, we’d love to hear it!

Discover the coins USA Change Checkers are collecting!

The famous mints in the United States of America, such as in Denver and Philadelphia, have hundreds of years of history producing some of the most collected and sought-after coins in the world, and with this USA coinage pack you can secure a piece of US history.

Click here to order your USA Coin Set for just £10.00 (+p&p).

A Jane Austen £10 note has just sold for 720 times its face value!

Held today at Spink and Son Ltd in London, the Jane Austen Polymer £10 note charity auction raised a fantastic £260,900! 

Proceeds from the sale will be donated to three charities: Candelighters, Haven House Children’s Hospice and Macmillan Cancer support.

Which notes sold for the most money?

The lowest serial numbered note, AA01 000010 sold for a huge £7,200, over double the guide price!

The lowest serial numbered note sold for £7,200

In comparison, the lowest polymer £5 note AA01 000017 sold for £4,150 at last year’s auction.

Other notes that fetched a handsome sum were AA01 000011 and AA01 000014, selling for £5,200 and £3,500 respectively.

The lot that sold for the most was a sheet of 54 consecutively numbered £10 notes, fetching an incredible £13,500.

A sheet of 54 consecutively numbered notes sold for £13,500

Finally, consecutive notes AA01 000999/001000 sold for £4,800.

Such was the popularity of this auction, every one of the 122 lots sold for more that the guide price, in many cases double.

Did any Change Checkers manage to win a note at the charity auction? If so, we’d love to hear.