Which coins should you be looking out for in your change?
We’ve taken a look at the mintage figures for UK coins to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation...
What you might be surprised by is that on our top 10 list, just 1 out of the 10 coins is a 50p!
The rarest UK coin currently in circulation is the Kew Gardens 50p, but the 9 rarest coins after that are actually £2s.
Whilst 50p coins are very popular amongst collectors at the moment, it’s certainly worth noting that it is in fact the £2 coins which you should be keeping your eyes peeled for, as some of the ones you can find in your change are very rare.
Other rare coins to look out for
Of course, this doesn’t take into account the rare error coins that have been found in circulation, such as:
- 2015 inverted effigy Britannia £2
- Olympic Aquatics 50p error
- Bronze 20p error
- Silver 2p error
- Undated 20p mule
Whilst exact mintage figures for these error coins may be unknown, we can assume that they could each be rare enough to find themselves near the top of the list.
A-Z of Great Britain 10p coins
It’s also worth noting that whilst mintage figures for the individual designs haven’t been released, if we assume that each A-Z of Great Britain 10p has been struck in equal quantities, then there would be approximately 281,000 of each design.
This would put each A-Z 10p design in equal second place on the list of the top 10 rarest coins in circulation!
What about the coins no longer in circulation?
Currently the Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin in circulation, but did you know that it isn’t actually the UK’s rarest 50p?
This title goes to the 1992/93 UK EC Presidency 50p, with a mintage of just 109,000 – almost half of the Kew Gardens!
In 1997, 50p coins were redesigned in the smaller specification and this coin was demonetised, meaning it is no longer in circulation.
The same can be said of the 1989 Claim of Right £2, which was demonetized in 1997 when the bi-metallic £2 coin was introduced.
This coin has a mintage of 381,400 which makes it the rarest UK £2 and would put it in second place on the list if it were still in circulation.
Are you lucky enough to have any of the top 10 rarest coins in your collection? Or perhaps you’ve even been lucky enough to get your hands on the pre-1997 coins listed above. Let us know in the comments below!
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
Have you ever noticed how the coins in your pocket display some of the most important moments in Britain’s history? From The Battle of Hastings, The World Wars, Votes for Women and more…
In fact, the coins we find in our change almost act as a guide to map out our nation’s heritage, which in my opinion means these coins play an incredibly important role in preserving these key moments for generations to come.
But with so many historically significant coins out there, which is your favourite? We’ve put together a list of our top ten historical coins – including information about their design and the events they represent and asked Change Checkers to vote for their all time favourite.
Take a look through to familiarise yourself with the coins below and then find out the results of our poll at the bottom of this page.
The Battle of Hastings 50p
For many of us, 1066 represents the start of ‘real’ British history – the year of The Battle of Hastings.
On this day, King Harold II’s English army was defeated by the Norman-French army of William the Conqueror. This led to the Norman conquest of England, with William the Conqueror becoming our first Norman King – a crucial moment in medieval history.
In 2016, The Royal Mint issued a 50p coin to mark the 950th anniversary of this hugely significant event which changed the course of history.
The reverse of this coin was designed by John Bergdahl and is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts the fate of King Harold at the hands of William The Conqueror, along with the famous date 1066 – when the battle took place. The obverse features the fifth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark.
6,100,000 Battle of Hastings 50p coins were struck, but have you found one in your change?
Magna Carta £2
The Magna Carta or ‘Great Charter’ is known as one of the most famous documents ever written and forms the foundations for modern democracy and the rights of all English citizens today.
Issued in 1215 by King John of England (otherwise known as ‘Bad King John’ due to his autocratic rule), the charter made peace with the rebel barons who had been causing a political crisis and stated that everyone (including the king) was subject to the law.
It is still cited in many legal cases to this day and some of the core values can also be seen in the United States Bill of Rights (1791), despite the document being substantially altered within just 10 years of it being issued.
In 2015, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The reverse design of this medieval-style coin features King John holding a quill and flanked by two noblemen.
Only 1,495,000 of this coin were struck, meaning it is slightly harder to find in your change, but have you got one in your collection?
Charles Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and was known as the ‘father or evolution’.
Born in 1809, Darwin was a British scientist whose work laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and natural selection, forever transforming the way we think about the natural world.
At the time of publication in 1859, his book ‘On the Origin of the Species’ was extremely controversial as it made it seem possible that humans evolved from apes, contradicting the widely held Orthodox Church theory of creation.
His death on the 19th April 1882 was honoured with a burial at Westminster Abbey and in 2009 The Royal Mint celebrated 200 years since his birth and 150 years since the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ with this £2 coin. The reverse design by Suzie Zamit features a profile portrait of Darwin facing a chimpanzee.
3,903,000 Darwin £2 coins were struck, so you might have come across one in your change?
On the 5th of July 1948, the National Health Service was born – providing a health service available to all and financed entirely from taxation.
After a Labour victory in the 1945 general election, Aneurin Bevan became minister of health, responsible for establishing the NHS.
This was the first time that anywhere in the world had completely free healthcare for citizens and brought together hospitals, doctors and nurses as one service, becoming the third largest employer in England.
In 1998, The Royal Mint issued this 50p coin to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the NHS. The coin’s obverse design features a pair of hands radiating lines to symbolise hope, created by David Cornell who is most famous for his Diana Princess of Wales Memorial £5 coin design.
5,001,000 NHS 50p coins were struck, but do you have one in your collection?
Gunpowder Plot £2
In 1605, a failed assassination attempt of King James I by a group of English Catholics went down in history as The Gunpowder Plot.
Whilst the 5th of November is now an an exciting celebration with fireworks and bonfires, the plan made by these rebels back in 1605 was far less lighthearted…
They plotted to blow up the House of Lords during the opening of Parliament on 5th November 1605, but Guy Fawkes was discovered the night before guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder and was subsequently executed along with seven other plotters.
In 2005, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin to mark the 400th anniversary. The reverse design of this coin features a montage of bishop’s crosiers, swords, and the Parliamentary mace – symbolising the survival of the British establishment.
5,140,500 of this coin were struck and many have found their way into the hands of collectors.
With Emmeline and Christabelle Pankhurst at its forefront, the Suffragette movement finally saw the partial votes for women in 1918, with the franchise being extended to all women over 21 in 1928.
The passionate campaigning for equal voting rights by this pioneering group of women meant that they risked ridicule and even imprisonment in defense of their cause.
However, the foundations they laid shaped society’s idea of women and sparked a new era of feminist history.
The Royal Mint issued the Suffragettes 50p in 2003 to commemorate the centenary of the establishment of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The design by Mary Milner Dickens features the figure of a suffragette chained to railings holding a banner on which appear the letters WSPU and to the right a ballot paper marked with a cross can be seen.
3,124,030 Suffragettes 50ps were struck, meaning it might be harder to come across in your change.
First World War Kitchener £2
Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British Secretary of War became synonymous with the enlistment campaign when war was declared on 4th August 1914.
Intuition told him that the war would last for several years and so he masterminded a recruitment campaign to build the largest volunteer army that Britain had ever seen and oversersaw a significant expansion of materials production to fight on the Western Front.
On 5 June 1916, Kitchener died aboard HMS Hampshire, when it struck a German mine near Scotland and sank.
To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Royal Mint revealed a five-year commemoration of the wartime journey from outbreak to armistice. and this first coin in the series is the £2 coin bearing sculptor John Bergdahl’s depiction of Lord Kitchener’s famous call to arms alongside the words YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU.
5,720,000 coins were struck, meaning you are likely to come across this coin in your change.
Sir Isaac Newton 50p
Sir Isaac Newton is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.
According to the Julian calendar in use in England at the time, Newton was born on Christmas Day, 25 December 1642 in the county of Lincolnshire. He became a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
His works changed our understanding of mathematics and physics and redefined the way we see the world.
In 1696 on the recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Isaac Newton became master of The Royal Mint, where he shaped the security of our currency, ensuring coins were made of the correct weight and fineness, varying as little as possible one from another.
Designed by Aaron West, this 50p coin was issued by The Royal Mint in 2017 to commemorate the achievements of Sir Isaac Newton and remember the legacy he left.
With a mintage of just 1,801,500 this 50p is the second rarest commemorative 50p in circulation.
Great Fire of London £2
The Great Fire is one of the most well-known disasters to hit London, when an accidental spark from a baker’s oven on Pudding Lane led to the destruction of a third of the city.
At the time, London had an estimated half a million inhabitants, many of which lived in wooden houses and makeshift structures which had become bone dry during an exceptional drought.
Over the course of 4 days, flames reaching temperatures of 1,250 °C consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities.
This 2016 £2 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to mark the 350th Anniversary of the iconic moment in the city’s history from which modern London emerged. The reverse depicts the city of London burning in flames from a distance and was designed by Aaron West.
The coin has a mintage of 5,135,000.
60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two £2
The 8th May 1945 is known as VE Day – Victory in Europe, which marked the end of World War Two.
This followed Germany’s surrender, about a week after Adolf Hitler had committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin.
Upon Germany’s defeat, an eruption of celebrations swept across the western world and in the UK more than a million people took to the streets to mark the end of war. In London, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony of the palace alongside Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to stand before the cheering crowds.
The reverse design of this £2 features a depiction of St Paul’s Cathedral which survived the Blitz to become a great symbol of hope to a war-torn nation. The edge inscription reads – IN VICTORY: MAGNANIMITY, IN PEACE: GOODWILL – part of the famous maxim that prefaces Churchill’s history of the Second World War.
With a mintage of 10,191,000 this coin is the most common £2 coin (excluding the Technology £2). Do you have one in your collection and do you think it should be named the favourite historical coin?
I’m sure you’ll agree that each of these remarkable coins beautifully represents a very special part of British heritage and acts as a window into our past history. Now it’s time to reveal which coin has been named the favourite amongst Change Checkers, based on their historical significance and quality of design.
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This pack makes for the ideal gift and is a great way to encourage junior Change Checkers to build their collections, whilst also helping them to learn about British history at the same time.
Britannia has a long standing history with British coinage. Having first appeared on a 1672 Farthing during the reign of Charles II, she subsequently featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years. In 2008 she was surprisingly dropped from the 50 pence piece despite a Daily Mail campaign to save her.
After a short absence, in February 2015 it was announced that Britannia would be making a triumphant return to British circulating coins. Antony Dufort’s modern interpretation of Britannia was to feature on Britain’s highest denomination coin, the £2, replacing the “technology” design which had featured on the coin since 1997.
It was a very popular move from The Royal Mint, even the then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is great to see Britannia’s welcome return to our currency. Britannia is an enduring symbol of our national identity, ideal to help reinforce the sense of shared purpose and history for Britons.”
However, it wasn’t until 2016 when The Mint released the mintage figures for the 2015 coins that the real surprise was unveiled.
Only 650,000 of the 2015 date Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the most scarce UK £2 coins ever! So scarce in fact that there were fewer of this coin than the England and the Scotland coins from the famous 2002 Commonwealth Games series.
The astonishing fact that Britannia had appeared on a circulating British coin in one way or another in an unbroken cycle between 1672 and 2008 was enough to ensure this £2 would be a favourite with collectors. The announcement of such a low mintage figure then created somewhat of a collecting frenzy!
The 2015 Britannia coin remains highly sought after by collectors.
The UK 2015 Britannia £2 Coin
That places it third equal in the all-time low mintage charts!