It might surprise you to learn that rare coins change hands every day in the UK. No, we’re not talking about ancient gold and silver pieces that move from one private collector to another. We’re talking about small change that ordinary Britons use to catch the tube or a bus in the morning. These coins are often worth many times their face value due to their scarcity and the fact that collectors are willing to pay handsomely for them. With that in mind, here is a list of rare coins that may be in your pocket as we speak.
Kew Gardens 50p – £24
Only 210,000 of these 50p coins were manufactured in 2011 to mark the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanical Gardens. That is compared with the 22.7 million coins that featured the Royal Arms in 2008. Not surprisingly, collectors went wild for this contemporary anomaly, forcing prices to rise to £24. Although the number of Kew Gardens 50p in circulation continues to dwindle as coin lovers snap them up at a frantic pace, experts estimate that one in every 300 people in the UK currently owns one — often without knowing it!
Dateless 20p – £100
Some of the most valuable and sought-after coins are the result of a printing error. Such was the case when the Royal Mint decided to switch the date from the back of the 20p piece to the front in 2008. According to engravers, the Mint mismatched the old and new designs, causing between 50,000 and 200,000 coins to be released with no date before the mistake was spotted. These coins now command prices of over £100 in mint condition.
London Olympics 50p Coin- £3,000
Although it was not released into general circulation, the set of coins the Royal Mint produced to celebrate the 2012 Olympic Games in London have been a huge hit with collectors. While the standard set typically sells for only around £35, there are a few rarer, more valuable designs depicting specific Olympic events. Because the original Aquatic coin had an error that was corrected shortly after production, about 600 examples of a rare variant have been found. These coins have sold on auction sites like eBay for around £3,000.
Charles Dickens £2 – £8
The Royal Mint releases commemorate coin sets and individual pieces each year, but not all of them appreciate in value. The 2012 coin that featured one of history’s greatest writers, Charles Dickens, was the exception. With about 20,000 limited edition pieces minted, this collectible is now worth four times its face value!
The EC 50P – £20
One of the rarest modern coin that was released to the public, 109,000 copies of this commemorative coin were produced in 1992 and 1993 to celebrate the British presidency of the European Council. A small fraction of the 5-15 million 50p pieces that would have ordinarily been made, this piece became an instant hit with collectors. Although it has since be taken out of circulation because the size of the 50p was reduced, people still find them in old penny jars on occasion — and with a current price of around £20, it might be worth a look!