One-of-a-kind 50p Trial Piece sells for £1,850!

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.

Image Credit: The Royal Mint

Read our Trial of the Pyx blog to find out more about the production process and how your coins are quality assured >>

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.

Trial Pieces Mark on the Queen Elizabeth II obverses
Trial Pieces Mark on the Queen Elizabeth II obverses
Credit: The Royal Mint Auctions
Trial Pieces Mark on the King Charles III obverses
Trial Pieces Mark on the King Charles III obverses
Credit: The Royal Mint Auctions

Big bids!

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.

2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p
2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p

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!

2023 Coronation 50p
2023 Coronation 50p
2022 Harry Potter 50p
2022 Harry Potter 50p

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!

Harry Potter 2022 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Trial Piece
Harry Potter 2022 50p Brilliant Uncirculated Trial Piece
Credit: The Royal Mint Auction

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!

Rare Trial Pieces including Kew Gardens 50p to be Auctioned for the First Time Ever!

Have you heard the news that for the first time in its history, The Royal Mint plan to auction rare sample coins for collectors?

Trial pieces are some of the very first samples of a new coin to be struck. They are used to set the standard for each coin issued and are carefully inspected by coin makers to ensure they meet the correct standards before striking of the new design begins.

Trial Coins Put Up For Auction

Rebecca Morgan, director of collector services at the Royal Mint, said: “This month we are delighted to offer a sample of our trial pieces at auction for the first time. Each of the trial pieces has played an integral role in creating the final coin, and offer collectors the chance to own a part of numismatic history.”

The Royal Mint have announced that collectors will have the chance to get their hands on a number of trail pieces at auction on Sunday 26th September.

Included in the auction are the coveted Kew Gardens 50p (the UK’s rarest circulation coin) and the Three Graces (a collection that sold out in 25 minutes last December).

Rare Kew Gardens 50p

2009 Kew Gardens 50p

Considered the ‘holy grail’ of change collecting, the Kew Gardens 50p tops the Change Checker Scarcity Index time and again. In fact, this coin is so sought-after that collectors are willing to pay well over face value to get their hands on one, with our latest eBay Tracker revealing the coin currently selling for £157 on the secondary market!

However, we always urge buyer caution when purchasing a Kew Gardens 50p, as there are a number of fakes out there to be aware of. Find out how you can spot the fake Kew Gardens 50ps here.

1994 Mayflower £2 Trail Piece

1994 Mayflower Trial £2

Rare trial pieces have been seen before, often becoming very sought-after amongst collectors…

In 1994, ahead of the introduction of the UK’s first bi-metallic coin – the £2 – The Royal Mint created a trial piece. This was used by The Royal Mint to test the minting process of the new coin and to help the automatic vending industry re-calibrate their machines in preparation.

The trialled reverse design features a three-masted sailing ship. Although the ship is not named, it is likely to be the Mayflower, which set sail from Plymouth to America to establish the first permanent New-England colony. The outer ring bears the inscription Royal Mint Trial with the date, 1994.

There were just over 4,500 packs of this trial £2 issued and as the coin design was never released into circulation, it has become an incredibly rare example of a bi-metallic £2 coin.

If you own one of these £2 trial pieces you can consider yourself very lucky!

But with the upcoming auction set for the 26th September, we’re sure collectors will be excited at the chance of getting their hands on the trial piece coins offered by The Royal Mint, including that sought-after Kew Gardens 50p which we’re sure will be incredibly popular.

Receive new UK coins without the hassle of placing orders on the day of release!

Join the Change Checker UK CERTIFIED BU Subscription Service and receive new UK coins sent to your door without the hassle of placing orders on the day of release!

Don’t miss your chance to get ahead of the crowd and be one of the very first collectors to receive the latest UK new issue coins as soon as possible after their release.

Sign-up today >>