So you think you’ve found a rare coin in your change, but how do you know how scarce it really is? Well, mintage figures only tell part of the story…
Our Scarcity Index uses data from the Change Checker Swap Centre to determine just how scarce and sought-after your coins are. The information is presented in the easy-to-use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved since the last Scarcity Index update.
50p Scarcity Index
It’s all change on our latest 50p index, with all but 3 coins moving at least 1 place.
Of course, right at the top is a non mover, the Kew Gardens 50p, closely followed by the Olympic Judo 50p. A select few Olympic 50ps regularly move around at the top of the list, however after climbing to 2nd place in our last index, the Judo 50p holds its spot and surprisingly, the coveted Football 50p has been bumped down slightly.
On to the big movers…and one Olympic 50p that has dropped a massive 34 places is the Boccia 50p, putting it back to where it was about a year ago. Also moving down is the 2018 Peter Rabbit 50p which has gone down 35 places and the Paddington at St Paul’s Cathedral 50p which has dropped 16 places.
It’s not all bad news for the 50ps though, because the Roger Bannister 50p and the Ironside 50p have climbed 17 and 14 places respectively. The Roger Bannister 50p has a mintage of just over 9 million and the Ironside 50p 7 million, making them some of the more common commemorative 50ps in circulation, so this shakeup on the index is definitely interesting.
Other notable movers are the Fencing 50p which has dropped 13 places, and the Taekwondo, Boxing, Volleyball and Canoeing 50ps which have all climbed 8 places.
If you’re new to collecting and want to find out more about circulation coins, you can check out our fact files here >>
Otherwise, keep reading to find out which 10ps and £2 coins you should be looking out for.
10p Scarcity Index
Once again, the A-Z 10p Scarcity Index has had quite a shake up, with only 4 coins staying put since our last update.
Coins climbing up the ranks include the O for Oak 10p which has risen by 9 places and the K for King Arthur and I for Ice Cream 10ps which both shot up by 6 places.
Falling almost to the bottom of the index is the N for NHS 10p which went down by 12 places since our last update and the F for Fish and Chips 10p which fell by 9 places.
It’s worth remembering that this Index only ranks the 10ps against each other, when really even the ones at the bottom of the list are still incredibly sought-after. And that’s no surprise, as a maximum of JUST 304,000 of each A-Z 10p design entered circulation across 2018 and 2019.
It’s thought that a large percentage of these 10ps have been snapped up by collectors, leaving a limited amount still in circulation, so make sure you keep an eye out for them in your change!
£2 Scarcity Index
We usually see less movement on the £2 index due to the fact that less coins have entered circulation in recent years, however this time, there have been some big movers.
Climbing an impressive 13 places is the Shakespeare Tragedies £2, which was previously 1 place from the very bottom of the index. Out of the 3 Shakespeare coins, the Comedies £2 has the lowest mintage figure, however this one has fallen by just one place.
Another surprising change is the Guinea £2 which has fallen by 17 places since our last update, putting it almost at the bottom of the index. When it was issued in 2013, just 2,990,000 Guinea £2 coins entered circulation, so despite it now ranking as common on our Scarcity Index, it’s still one of the rarer £2s out there.
And of course, the Commonwealth Games N. Ireland £2 remains at the top of the list due to it’s incredibly low mintage of just 485,000.
How your Scarcity Index works
Generally collectors have relied on 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.
What’s more, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – for example the First World War £2 Coin series.
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. This allows Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.
How much are my coins worth?
The Scarcity Index doesn’t necessarily equate to value, but it is certainly a good indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 200 times face value on eBay and is unsurprisingly top of the 50p Index.
You can use our 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.
What about £1 Coins?
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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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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 Tales of the Earth 50p series continued with the 2024 UK T-Rex 50p in December last year, kicking off the Iconic Specimens Collection!
The collection celebrates some of the most legendary dinosaurs to roam the Earth, with designs by renowned paleo-artist Robert Nicholls who had expert guidance from Professor Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum. Still to come in the Iconic Specimens Collection are the Stegosaurus 50p and the Diplodocus 50p.
Test your knowledge!
In honour of these mighty dinosaurs, we want to test your pre-historic knowledge! Take our ultimate dinosaur quiz and let us know what you scored!