Coins from Crown dependencies and overseas British territories can sometimes make an unexpected appearance in our change.
Sure, this can be an annoyance as technically the coins are not legal tender in the UK, but from a collecting point of view, new and interesting designs are always a bonus!
In our latest coin hunt competition, we went head to head with 10 YouTube Coin Hunters for a 50p coin hunt and it was amazing to see how many of the teams stumbled across coins that shouldn’t be in our change…
Here are some of the unexpected coins we came across:
2012 Bailiwick of Jersey 50p
Yasmin and I were lucky enough to come across this 2012 Bailiwick of Jersey 50p in our coin hunt.
The coin features Jersey’s Grosnez Castle on the reverse surrounded by the lettering ‘Bailiwick of Jersey’. The obverse features the Arnold Machin engraving of Queen Elizabeth II.
Interestingly, 2012 dated Bailiwick of Jersey 50p coins were also struck in 2013 and 2014, giving this particular coin a total mintage of 365,000.
Jersey’s coinage is not legal tender in the rest of the UK, but the lower mintage figures of the island’s coins compared to the UK makes them particularly scarce and collectible, so it was a great surprise to find a Jersey coin amongst our 50ps!
Jersey’s coin mintages are significantly lower because of their smaller population of only 100,000.
2012 Guernsey Freesia Flowers 50p
During his coin hunt, Christopher Collects managed to find a 2012 Freesia Flowers coin from Guernsey.
This beautiful 50p features two crossed freesia flowers on the reverse design, however it is the obverse design which is particularly special.
The obverse features Raphael Maklouf’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II with the lettering ‘Bailiwick of Guernsey’ above, and also a small Guernsey Coat of Arms to the left.
This addition on the obverse makes the Guernsey 50p stand out when compared to UK 50p coins.
We don’t know the mintage figures for this coin, however it will likely be fairly low when compared to UK figures, due to Guernsey’s smaller population.
2018 Isle of Man Imperial State Crown 50p
Coin Cupboard was very lucky and also found a Bailiwick of Jersey 50p, as well as an Imperial State Crown 50p from the Isle of Man.
The Imperial State Crown 50p was issued in 2018 as part of a five coin set celebrating the Sapphire Coronation Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
A limited number of each coin entered circulation on the Isle of Man, although we don’t know the exact mintage figure for this coin.
The reverse design shows the Coronation Crown and the obverse features Jody Clark’s most recent portrait of the Queen which, unlike UK coins, includes her shoulders.
1999 East Caribbean States 1 Dollar
Whilst you might expect a few British Isles coins to turn up every now and again, we certainly weren’t expecting to find this coin in our 50p bank bag!
In fact, both team Change Checker and Dom Collects came across one of these unusual coins in our change.
This 1 dollar was issued from 1989 to 2000 in the Eastern Caribbean States, but how did it find its way into our UK change?
As a British Overseas Territory, the East Caribbean States currency features the portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
This, along with the coin’s size which is very close to the UK 50p, means it has managed to get mixed up with UK change and passed off as a 50p.
However, there is one very significant difference between this coin and a 50p, and that’s the shape. The East Caribbean States dollar is actually decagonal (10 sided) and features milling along every other edge of the coin.
You can imagine just how surprising it was to come across this coin in the middle of our 50p hunt, and how unusual still that we weren’t the only team to find one!
It just goes to show how many fascinating coins find their way into our change and why it’s always worthing checking to see if you’ve found a coin which was intended for circulation in the UK.
Secure your Guernsey Freesia Flowers 50p coin today!
You can now secure the Guernsey Freesia Flowers 50p for your British Isles collection.
One of the most fascinating things about coin collecting is of course the design on the coin – but what about the shape of the coin itself? As minting technology continues to advance, coins are being struck in all kinds of exciting and innovative shapes.
So I’ve put together selection of 11 unusually shaped collectable coins from around the world…
1. The WWI Brodie Helmet coin …
To commemorate the Armistice Centenary, The Royal Canadian Mint issued a remarkable new coin to honour each and every fallen soldier.
Struck in the shape of a WWI Brodie Helmet, it is more deeply curved surface than any other concave or convex-shaped coin I’ve seen before. The design is so unique in fact, that the Mint have kept the minting technique a closely guarded secret.
2. The FIRST rugby coin of its kind…
To mark the Rugby World Cup in 2015, France issued the first ever coin shaped like a rugby ball.
The concave coins proved to be extremely popular with collectors worldwide, with many keen to add a coin with such a unique pedigree to their collections.
3. A coin shaped like a country…
The Perth Mint regularly issue map-shaped coins, taking advantage of their country’s unique and recognisable outline.
This series makes use of purpose-built tooling and die design to give the coin its distinctive shape.
The first coin in the series featured the Kookaburra and was issued in 2012. Since then there have been a variety of different animals to feature on the coin, with the most recent being the Dingo.
4. The ‘Imperial Egg’…
This impressive looking coin boasts beautiful enamelled colour and a shimmering gemstone inlay.
The ‘Imperial Egg’ Coin is based on the work of Fabergé and proved to be very popular with collectors, especially during the Easter period.
5. You’ll be lucky to find one of these…
You certainly won’t find this Four-Leaf Clover Coin in a field, no matter how hard you look! Legend has it that Eve took a four-leaf-clover from paradise as a memento for the wonderful time she had spent there – they’ve been considered lucky ever since.
Struck in gold to a proof finish, this cleverly produced coin could certainly be regarded as lucky by collectors who have one in their collection – as it is now highly sought-after.
6. The Earth-shattering coin…
The extra-terrestrial chondrite that has been set into the centre of this coin was sourced from a meteorite that crash-landed in Morocco in 2005. The space rock shattered into several pieces when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
The coin itself has been struck in a concave shape to represent the crater in which the piece of meteorite landed.
7. Is it a coin or is it a bar? It’s both…
This rectangular silver coin-bar features one of the world’s most iconic landmarks – London’s Tower Bridge.
It’s not often that you see coins minted in this shape as the ‘bar’ format is usually reserved for bullion.
This stunning coin boasts an intricately detailed engraving and tiny details can be seen on the Tower Bridge to create windows, clock and brickwork.
8. The poppy-shaped remembrance coin…
This coin’s unique shape and rich red printing on the reverse takes inspiration from the poppy, which has become synonymous throughout the world as a symbol of remembrance and the charitable work of The Royal British Legion.
Issued to commemorate the end of the First World War and to Remember the Fallen, the Poppy Coin is a significant issue that is poignant to many.
9. The coin that sold out in two days…
This remarkable coin is shaped like the iconic Canadian maple leaf, and proved so popular that it sold out at the Royal Canadian Mint in just 2 days.
Canadian Maple Leaf coins are some of the world’s most recognised Silver coins. This issue takes the design to a whole new level and comes complete with a special wooden display case.
10. The coin that combines heaven and earth…
Issued in China since 221 BCE, the Chinese Lucky Cash Coin features a square hole at its centre to represent Earth, while the circle symbolises heaven. This combination of heaven and earth make the coin a symbol of harmony and prosperity.
Chinese fortune-tellers would use cash coins, a tortoise shell, and their skill at numerology to tell the future. Because of their association with mystical prediction, these coins from China are thought to bring good luck.
11. And last but not least…
The playful Russian ‘Matryoshka Dolls’ first appeared in the late 19th century, now they’ve been immortalised on a silver coin.
This oval issue is displayed within special bespoke packagingwhich consists of two traditional wooden nesting dolls placed one inside the other – the coin and packaging are both something that I’ve never come across before!
Are you lucky enough to have any of these coins in your collection, or perhaps you’ve seen another coin that you think should be on the list? Let me 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
Who else has started drawing up a destination wish-list and going holiday window shopping in preparation for this year’s adventures?
I know I certainly can’t wait for the holiday season and for me, one of the best things about going abroad is the discovery and experience of new cultures, and that includes foreign currency. As a Change Checker, I’m sure you’ll love looking at the different designs as much as I do, and since each currency is unique to its country, you’ll find there is always a story to tell from the change you find abroad.
In fact, we’ve come across some truly fascinating coins from Europe, so if you’re like me and are already planning your next getaway, make sure you keep an eye out for some of these gems when you jet off…
An ever popular tourist destination for us Brits is Spain, and I’m sure that the Spanish euro is one that many Change Checkers would recognise. All euros issued before 2015 feature the portrait of King Juan Carlos I who reigned as the King of Spain from 1975 until his abdication in 2014 when his son Felipe VI took over the royal duties. King Juan Carlos I was an interesting Head of State because he was not born in the country he eventually came to rule, his family having been exiled to Italy due to the abolition of the Spanish Monarchy in 1931. However, following a coup d’état in 1936 the dictator Generalísimo Francisco Franco took control of the Spanish government, and 11 years later reaffirmed Spain’s status as a Monarchy. This 2009 2 euro coin designed by Luiz José Diaz depicts King Juan Carlos I encircled by the lettering “ESPAÑA” and the twelve stars of Europe.
Portuguese euros are in a league of their own as, unusually, they follow a theme (with the exception of commemorative euros) and the designs do not vary from year to year. Throughout Portuguese coinage you will find various royal seals of the past: the cross of Knight Templar from 1134, the Rota with cross from 1142 and the Compass rose from 1144, each featuring at the centre of the copper covered steel coins (1, 2 and 5 cents), Nordic gold coins (10, 20, 50 cents) and bi-metallic coins (1 and 2 euros) respectively. What is also distinct about Portuguese euros is that they feature a second circle of emblems below the 12-star requirement. This second ring is made up of 7 castle towers and 5 shields, to symbolise dialogue, the exchanging of values and the dynamics of building Europe. This additional design feature was deliberately added as a point of difference in comparison with other Eurozone coinage.
With 19 out of the 28 EU member countries using the euro, and each country minting its own unique designs, you’re bound to come across some weird and wonderful looking coins, many of which have been chosen or designed by the public. The French 1 and 2 euro coins are stunning examples of this. 1,200 applicants submitted their designs for the obverse and the successful entry was chosen by a jury. The winning entry by Joaquim Jimenez features a stylised tree in a hexagon, framed by the motto of the French revolution: ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’.
Similar to their French neighbours, the public had a hand in choosing the designs for the Italian euros, with each denomination featuring a different image. Designs featuring works by famous Italian artists were scrutinised by a technical and artistic committee before being presented to the public to vote. However, in a twist of events during the selection process, the 1 euro coin designs were withdrawn and the former economy minister Carlo Azeglia Ciampi took it upon himself to make an executive decision. He decided Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man was the best option, reasoning that the design represents the ‘coin to service of Man’ as opposed to ‘Man to the service of money’.
Some of the most iconic pieces of art featured in winning designs include Botticelli’s Birth of Venus on the 10 cent coin, the Equestrian Statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius on the 50 cent coin and the 2 euro coin features a portrait of Dante Alighieri from Raphaël’s La disputa del sacramento (Disputation of the Sacrament) which you can find in the Pope Julius II Wing of the Vatican City Palace.
If you’re considering popping to the Vatican Palace to see the Raphaël masterpiece, you might want to try and track down some of the most coveted euros – Vatican euros. Euros issued by the Philatelic and Numismatic Office of the Vatican City State are easily some of the rarest euros you may come across, especially the 1 and 2 euro coins issued in 2011, as only 6,000 coins were minted! Vatican euros are minted with collectors in mind rather than for commercial use, and with the number of coins minted being so small, the collector value is incredibly high. You’re very lucky if you find one of these in your pocket!
Dutch euros are unique in the sense that they only bear one motif, that of the reigning monarch. The first generation euros, issued until 2013, feature the effigy of Queen Beatrix. It is customary in the Netherlands to change the direction the portrait of the monarch is facing whenever a new monarch ascends the throne, so Queen Beatrix can be seen looking to the left whilst the image of King Willem-Alexander featured on second generation euros from 2014 onwards faces right.
A special ‘first’ to feature in this list is the 2003 1 euro coin from the Netherlands, which although currently in circulation is considered to be part of the first generation euro introduced in 1999. What’s interesting about this coin’s design is that at the time they were struck the design satisfied the basic euro coin requirements of having 12 stars arranged anywhere on the obverse, but this changed shortly after the coins entered circulation when new, more definitive design requirements were enforced. All second generation designs required the 12 stars to be spaced evenly apart and in a circular shape in the outer ring, mimicking the shape of the European flag. On the Dutch 2003 1 Euro you’ll notice the stars are compressed onto the left-side of the coin in a semicircle, curving around the profile of Queen Beatrix, rather than forming a full circle to meet the new design specifications.
Likewise, all other Dutch coins issued at the same time are considered to be first generation due to their designs which clearly flout the requirements. Most notably, on the 50 cent coin you can see 12 small stars circling the effigy of Queen Beatrix at the centre of the coin, and an inscription reading ‘Koning der Nederlanden’ (Kingdom of the Netherlands) with the name of the Queen and the year of issue engraved where the 12 stars should be (according to the standard guidelines).
We’ll finish our trip through the pockets of the Eurozone in Germany, where there are several coins of note, including the 1 and 2 euro. These euros feature The Federal Eagle, which holds high symbolic value in Germany. The Federal Eagle is the oldest existing state symbol in Europe and one of the oldest insignia in the world, dating back to Germanic tribes and the Romans who saw the eagle as an incarnation of the god Odin, the supreme deity of vitality and the sun. The symbol was adopted by many states and noble houses in their coat of arms, resulting in a long tradition in Germany. Unlike euros issued in other countries, German euros carry the mintmark of the region where they are minted: ‘A’ for Berlin, ‘D’ for Munich, ‘F’ for Stuttgart, ‘G’ for Karlsruhe and ‘J’ for Hamburg.
Another main symbol of Germany is The Brandenburg Gate. Located to the west in Berlin it symbolises both the division and subsequent unification of the country, because when built the Berlin Wall cut off access to the gate for both West and East Germany. This image can be found on the German Nordic gold coins – the 10, 20 and 50 cents. The perspective of the design emphasises the opening of the gate, truly highlighting the unity and peace between Germany and Europe.
Our final destination holds by far some of the most unusual euros to be circulated, including the 2016 German 5 euro. This euro made numismatic history when it was issued, as it is not only the first commemorative 5 euro to be issued by Germany, but it is also the first coin in history to feature a brand new material in the minting process – a translucent polymer.
The coin features a millimetre-fine blue translucent ring made from polymer on its bi-metal surface, and this innovative technology makes it the first coin to keep up with banknotes in terms of counterfeit prevention. Remarkably the colour of the blue Polymer ring is different for each of the 5 regional mints, varying from light blue to a very dark blue. 10 years of research went in to producing this coin, and has since paved the way for a collectable series of German 5 euro coins based on the ‘climate zones of Earth’ to be issued over 5 years using the same minting techniques to produce a different coloured ring for each coin.
Error coins and rarities
In Italy in 2002, 7,000 1-cent Mole Antonelliana error coins were struck on 2-cent blanks. These rare error coins have been known to sell for thousands of euros, with one bidding war reaching the dizzying heights of €6,600 back in 2013!
2002 was also the year that France minted just 9,000 2-cent coins featuring a young feminine Marianne, known as ‘the national emblem of France’ and a ‘personification of Liberty and Reason’. These rare coins are easily overlooked, but with so few of them in circulation they are certainly worth keeping your eyes peeled for.
Other coins with very low mintage figures include the 2011 Greek 2 euro, the 2008 German 5-cent, the 2013 Cyprus 1 euro and the 2002 Belgium 10-cent.
An interesting series of 5 euro coins to look out for comes from Germany and was created to reflect Earth’s climatic zones with the use of coloured plastic polymer rings to represent each zone. The first coin was issued in 2017 and the series will continue releasing one coin per year until 2021.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our little road trip through Europe and some of the fascinating finds you could discover in your change on your next trip abroad, but don’t worry Change Checkers, as you don’t have to wait until your next holiday to snap up some of these fascinating euros…
Secure 10 fascinating finds from the Change Checker Euro Collection
This set of 10 commemorative coins from all over Europe includes:
- Italian 2 Euro – featuring poet Dante Alighieri
- Spanish 2 Euro – featuring the King of Spain Juan Carlos
- Dutch 1 Euro – featuring a half side portrait of Queen Beatrix
- German 1 Euro – featuring an Eagle, the symbol of German sovereignty
- Italian 1 Euro – featuring the famous drawing by Leonard da Vinci
- French 1 Euro – featuring the Liberte Egalite Fraternité (Tree of life)
- Dutch 50 cent – featuring Queen Beatrix
- German 50-Cent – featuring Brandenburg Gate
- Portuguese 50-Cent – featuring the Coat of Arms and castles
- Italian 50-Cent – featuring the Italian Emperor Marcus Aurelius