Do you think you have a good knowledge of UK coinage? Well check out these 20 surprising facts that you might not know about UK coins!

1. The direction of each monarch’s effigy faces in the opposite direction to their immediate predecessor. This has been tradition since the time of Charles II onwards, with the only exception being Edward VIII, as he preferred his left portrait to his right, which was the side proposed for coins of his reign.

Edward VIII Left Portrait. Credit: Numista

2. Two 1p coins weigh the same as one 2p coin, and two 5p coins weigh the same as one 10p coin. A 1p coin weighs 3.56g, so times that by 2 and you’ve got the weight of a 2 pence piece, 7.12g

1p and 2p coins

3. Whilst the high-value banknote in general circulation is the £50 note, there are such things as £1 million notes and £100 million notes. They are locked away deep in the Bank of England’s vaults and are used to back the value of every notes issued by commercial banks in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

£1 million pound note. Credit: BBC.com

4. The word Farthing derived from a shortening of the word ‘Fourthing’. As far back as 1060, an English coin was shaped like a clover, so that any of the four leaves could be broken off and used as separate pieces of currency.

Farthing

5. The commonly used term ‘quid’ actually originates from the phrase Quid Pro Quo, which translates literally to ‘what for what’. This term first appeared back in 1661!

6. According to the central banks, Brits are the world leaders at counterfeiting. There are an estimated 300 fake notes in every one million sterling notes!

7. When the UK prepared for the decimalization of its coinage, the government embarked on an enormous media campaign including leaflets, TV spots and even songs!

Decimalisation Posters. Credit: Royal Mint Museum.

8. During the Second World War, Nazi Germany produced huge quantities of counterfeit sterling notes to try and devalue British currency. By 1945 a huge 12% of the notes in existence were counterfeit! The problem was solved by removing higher denomination notes from circulation and putting metal threads through new notes, making them harder to forge.

9. Stamps are not legal tender. Whilst you are free to accept stamps as payment for a service or goods, there is no legal obligation for you to accept them when offered. They have however been used as emergency currency in other countries.

1938 Emergency Spanish Currency Stamps. Credit: The Westminster Collection

10. You cannot pay fines in pennies. Have you ever considered paying a parking fine you didn’t think was fair with nothing but pennies? Well, be aware that the council is under no obligation to accept them! While relevant parties can choose to accept any type of payment they wish, in England and Wales restrictions apply on sums below £1.

11. Despite common belief, the polymer notes are not indestructible. Although we don’t recommend destroying them as you won’t be able to spend them!

Polymer £5 and £20 notes.

12. An estimated 28,850,000,000 UK coins are in circulation today! This is equivalent to almost 4 billion pounds worth of coins!

13. The use of gold in UK coinage ended when the First World War began. The gold sovereign, prior to 1914, was worth about £1 in circulation. However, the public were asked to hand any in to help fund the war effort. In its place came the £1 and £10 notes.

1910 Edward VII Circulating Gold Sovereign. Credit: Numista

14. There is a myriad of Cockney rhyming slang to describe money. Apple core means £20, Uncle Ben means 10 and if someone asks to borrow a taxi driver, they actually mean a fiver.

15. The ‘coppers’ in your change, aren’t actually made of copper. Since 1992, 1p and 2p coins have been made of steel, with a copper plating.

2 Pence Piece

16. The UK’s current definitive coinage dated 2008 or younger, make up the design of the Shield of the Royal Arms when they are all placed together. Pretty cool, right?

Shield of the Royal Arms in Definitive Coinage

17. Legend has it, the M11 has an exit but not an entry at Junction 5 to prevent would-be thieves escaping. This is because of its close proximity to the De La Rue Currency factory – where banknotes are printed for the Bank of England. This way, any potential robbers wouldn’t be able to make their escape quickly out of London and onto a motorway.

18. The Queen must officially approve any coin design before it can be made. The design is first put to the Chancellor, who then passes it on to the Queen for her official sign-off.

The Royal Mint Advisory Committee. Credit: The Royal Mint Museum

19. A full judicial trial is held to test newly-minted coins – called the Trial of the Pyx. This ceremony is held to ensure newly-minted coins conform to the required standards. The trials are held once a year and the coin’s diameter, chemical composition and weight is tested. These trials have been held since the 12th century and the process remains largely unchanged since that date!

The Trial of the Pyx. Credit: The Royal Mint Museum.

20. If you find a buried treasure chest of money and don’t report it, you could face a prison sentence! Technically any hidden treasure found in the UK belongs to the Queen! All findings must be reported to the coroner within 14 days and the treasure will be offered to museums. If the museums choose not to bid on it, then the finder/land-owner gets to receive it.

How many of these surprising facts did you already know? 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

Change Checker Web App Banner 2 Amends 1024x233 1 1024x233 - Your January 2019 Scarcity Index update!

Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app

***BREAKING NEWS***

The first coin in The Royal Mint’s Music Legends £5 series has just been released, and this £5 is sure to rock you…

For the first time ever, QUEEN feature on a brand new UK coin!

2020 UK Queen £5

The Show Must Go On

As one of Britain’s most iconic and influential bands ever, Queen’s unique sound quickly propelled them to global stardom!

The band was formed in London in 1970 and released their debut album in 1973.

From one hit to another, Queen rocked the nation and became a British icon, creating unique and timeless songs which are still loved to this day.

And as of 2005, Queen albums have spent a total of 1,322 weeks on the UK Album Charts – equating to twenty-six years (according to the Guinness Book of World Records).

2020 Queen £5 Coin

To celebrate these true music legends, a brand new Queen £5 coin has been released by The Royal Mint.

2020 UK Queen £5

The £5 coin features a design by Chris Facey, showcasing the iconic instruments of all four founder members of the band: Brian May’s Red Special guitar, John Deacon’s Fender Precision Bass™, Roger Taylor’s Ludwig™ bass drum, and Freddy Mercury’s Bechstein™ grand piano.

But my favourite part of this coin design has got to be the grand piano with the opening notes of Queen’s world-famous anthem Bohemian Rhapsody pressed down.

Band members Brian May and Roger Taylor have officially approved the design of this £5 coin and this, alongside the fact that the coin is full of numismatic firsts, is sure to make it particularly sought-after amongst collectors:

  • The first-time ever Queen have featured on a coin worldwide
  • The first-time ever a British band has been celebrated on UK coinage
  • The first in an exciting new series celebrating British music legends

I’m sure you’re just as excited as we are by this brand new coin release and the start of the Music Legends £5 series. Who do you think will appear on the next coin in the series? Let us know in the comments below!


A genuine numismatic first – secure yours today

As you would expect with a coin this exciting, your brand new UK £5 has been struck to superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality and protectively encapsulated in official Change Checker packaging to preserve its quality forever.

Become part of British history and secure the first-ever Queen £5 coin for your collection right now by clicking here.

We’re delighted to announce the next Change Checker Live Event will be coming to Cardiff!

We’re at St David’s Shopping Centre in Cardiff from 9.30am to 8pm on Wednesday 19th February and we’re bringing the 2019 UK Wallace and Gromit 50p coin to swap with you.

Join us there and swap ANY UK 50p coin for the wonderful Wallace and Gromit 50p coin in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.

These coins won’t be entering circulation, so this is your chance to get your hands on one in superior collector’s quality for just face value.

PLUS, when you attend the event you’ll receive an exclusive voucher to purchase Change Checker goodies on the day.

Please note: Swaps are limited to 1 per person, while stocks last.

St David’ Shopping Centre, Cardiff

Located in one of the UK’s fastest growing cities, St David’s in Cardiff is one of the UK’s premier retail destinations, with a choice of over 180 retailers and over 40 restaurants to enjoy during your visit.

You can find us on the lower level near Watches of Switzerland and Pravins, at the location marked by the red circle on the map below:

Sitting above St David’s is a 2,000 space contemporary 24-hour car parking facility. Disabled parking is located on Level P3 and a second car park of 550 spaces can be found underneath John Lewis.

Situated right in the heart of Cardiff city centre, St David’s is a short walk from Cardiff Central and Queen Street Rail Stations.

It’s easy to get there by car too with excellent links from the A470 and the M4.

If you’re using a sat nav to get there, the postcode you’ll need is CF10 2EN. This will take you to the entrance of the multi storey car park on Mary Ann Street.

St David’s Shopping Centre, Bridge St, Cardiff, CF10 2EF

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 swap per person.

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 Wallace and Gromit 50p!

Can’t wait to get your hands on the Wallace and Gromit 50p coin?

Secure your 2019 Wallace and Gromit 50p Coin in Brilliant Uncirculated quality here.