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

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

The BRAND NEW and last-ever Peter Rabbit 50p has now been officially released!

It would be hard to find someone who hadn’t heard of this naughty little rabbit. The central character of Beatrix Potter’s beloved children’s stories, Peter Rabbit has featured on many staple collectables.

Emma Noble’s design of this coin, which features an original illustration of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter herself, perfectly captures Peter Rabbit’s cheeky personality, as he can be seen crawling under Mr. McGregor’s fence!

2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

This coin won’t be entering circulation but is available to purchase in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p) here.

Where it all started

It was in 2016 that Peter Rabbit escaped from Mr. McGregor’s garden and made his first debut on United Kingdom coinage.

Issued to celebrate 150 years since the birth of renowned Children’s author, Beatrix Potter, this 50p changed coin collecting forever.

2016 UK Peter Rabbit 50p

There were five Beatrix Potter 50ps issued in 2016, including the incredibly popular Jemima Puddle-Duck, which, for a long time, was considered the rarest Beatrix Potter coin in circulation. She was also joined by fellow characters Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin.

2016 UK Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p

A very special 50p was issued the same year, celebrating Beatrix Potter herself and features her silhouette and her emblem.

2016 UK Beatrix Potter 50p

This series of coins continued into 2017, 2018 and 2019. Fifteen Beatrix Potter coins have now been issued since 2016, each featuring one of Potter’s delightful characters, from Flopsy Bunny to Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.

Complete Beatrix Potter 50p Collection

Peter Rabbit is the only character to feature more than once in the Beatrix Potter 50p series, with no less than 5 coins issued to celebrated the nation’s favourite little rabbit.

Sadly, Peter Rabbit’s 50p tale has now come to an end. It has been confirmed that the 2020 50p will be the very last UK Peter Rabbit 50p to be issued!

Which Beatrix Potter coins are the rarest?

To celebrate the release of this brand-new Peter Rabbit 50p, we’ve taken a look back at the mintage figures for the different Beatrix Potter 50ps to find out which ones are the rarest in circulation

Beatrix Potter 50p Mintage Figures

Following the release of the 2018 mintage figures, we’ve seen the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny 50ps take joint top spot on the Beatrix Potter Mintage Chart. With mintages of just 1,400,000, these coins are the rarest Beatrix Potter coins in circulation and have already proved incredibly popular with collectors!

We also saw the 2018 Mrs. Tittlemouse claim its spot on the podium, pushing Jemima Puddle-Duck – previously thought of as the rarest Beatrix Potter 50p in circulation – further down the chart, with a circulating mintage of 1,700,000.

So collectors that have held onto their 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps will be delighted to see this! If you don’t have these coins in your collection yet, now’s the time to keep your eyes out to hunt down these sought-after 50ps.

4 years on from his initial release, it’s safe to say that Peter Rabbit inspired a whole new generation of collectors to start checking their change.

I have no doubt that the 2020 Peter Rabbit 50p will prove as popular as the previous years, and I’m sure collectors and Peter Rabbit fans alike will be chasing this rascally rabbit right into their collections.


Secure this brand new 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p in Brilliant Uncirculated Quality

2020 UK Peter Rabbit CERTIFIED BU 50p

This is your chance to be ahead of the crowd and secure the very last Peter Rabbit 50p in superior Brilliant Uncirculated condition for just £4.50 (+p&p).

Secure the 2020 UK Peter Rabbit 50p to your collection here

We’re excited to reveal to you the very first Scarcity Index of 2020!

The updated 50p, A-Z 10p and £2 indexes below allow you to discover how sought-after the coins in your collection really are…

This information has been compiled using data from the Change Checker Swap Centre and 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.

50p Scarcity Index

The previous Scarcity Index update saw some exciting changes to the 50p index, as we were able to include the 2018 50p coins following the release of their mintage figures.

This was great news for Change Checkers who have the 2018 Beatrix Potter 50ps in their collection, as both the Flopsy Bunny and Peter Rabbit 50ps have proved incredibly sought-after.

Despite both coins having the same mintage figure of 1,400,000, the Flopsy Bunny 50p is the most sought-after of the Beatrix Potter coins and is in fact the scarcest non-Olympic 50p coin in circulation, aside from of course the Kew Gardens 50p – the UK’s most sought-after circulation 50p.

Whilst both the Flopsy Bunny and 2018 Peter Rabbit 50ps have moved up the index one place since the last update, the other 2018 50ps haven’t fared quite so well, with the Mrs Tittlemouse and Paddington at the Station both moving down the index and the other 2018 50ps remaining unchanged.

The biggest mover on this latest Scarcity Index update goes to the Olympic Fencing 50p, which has moved up the index an incredible twelve places, following its five place drop on the previous update.

As we look forward to the Olympic Games which will be held in Tokyo later this year, perhaps we’ll see more of the Olympic 50ps increase in popularity by the next Scarcity Index update.

A-Z 10p Scarcity Index

We’re used to seeing quite a bit of movement on the A-Z 10p index as these particularly tricky-to-find coins are snapped up by collectors.

Interestingly, in this latest update only the top and bottom coins have remained unchanged, with B for Bond staying on top spot as the current scarcest A-Z 10p coin in circulation.

For many, this coin seems to be a firm favourite from the A-Z of Great Britain collection which was released in 2018, so it comes as no surprise that it has found its way to the top of the list.

P for Postbox is unfortunately bottom of the pile once again, although it’s worth remembering that all of these coins are considered sought-after and collectors fortunate enough to come across just one will be considering themselves lucky.

The biggest movers on the latest 10p index update are W for World Wide Web and S for Stonehenge, which have both moved up the index by 14 places.

S for Stonehenge actually dropped by 14 places in the previous index, so this could be the coin levelling back out again.

It will be interesting to see how the index changes as more collectors come across these coins and as we await the release of the 2019 mintage figures. We currently know that 220,000 of each design entered circulation in 2018 and a further 2.1 million coins overall were released in 2019, but exact figures for individual 2019 designs are currently unknown.

£2 Scarcity Index

Following the 2018 mintage figure reveal, we know that no £2 coins have entered circulation since 2016, so the £2 index continues to remain fairly stable with no new coins to add to the mix.

The top five coins are unchanged since the last index and it comes as no surprise that the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 remains on the top spot, as this £2 has a mintage figure of just 485,500 and is considered incredibly sought-after amongst collectors.

All three Olympic themed £2 coins (Olympic Handover, Olympic Centenary and London 2012 Handover) also remain very close to the top of the index and I wonder if the Tokyo Olympics this year will affect the scarcity of these already very popular coins.

The biggest mover on the £2 index is the Florence Nightingale coin, which has moved up by six places, whilst the 60th Anniversary of World War Two coin has moved down by five places to the third from bottom space.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, it would be fantastic to see some new £2 coins entering circulation and how they might affect the £2 Scarcity Index. Fingers crossed they’ll be enough demand for these coins to enter circulation soon!

How your 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 200 times face value on eBay.

You can use the 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.

What about £1 Coins?

The £1 Scarcity Index has already been published for the Round £1 coins and, because they are no longer being issued, this is now set in stone.


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