We’ve all had moments where we find an odd coin or two in our change that we don’t recognise. This can be quite exciting at times – what if we’ve picked up a rare penny that could be worth thousands at auction? Unfortunately, many of us should be so lucky – but there’s still a great chance you have a few rare coins UK collectors will be looking to pay handsomely for.
However, knowing what to look for isn’t always so easy. It’s probably better to consult an expert to value your coin collection rather than heading straight to eBay, as prices can get inflated easily online.
In this guide, we’ll take you through the most valuable rare coins you’ll still find in the UK today, and how much you could potentially make if you are lucky enough to have kept them in your possession.
Are all old coins worth money?
Here’s the short answer – no. Unfortunately, just because a coin is old, doesn’t mean that it’s always likely to make a tidy profit. What you should be considering, instead, is rarity.
Coins that only had a limited run through the Royal Mint, for example, are highly sought-after. This is simply based on the idea of ‘limited edition’. If an item is considerably rare, such as first edition prints of popular books (such as The Fellowship of The Ring, Harry Potter, etc), collectors will willingly pay extra to have it in their possession.
So, when it comes to valuable UK pennies to look for – as well as recent coins that have seized collectors’ interests – you’re going to need to look at those little chunks of metal that have barely entered circulation.
Rarity doesn’t always happen on purpose, either. For example, some coins may have slipped through the mint as a result of errors during process. You’ll see a few examples like this in our list below.
Coins that are minted in error or are stopped as a result of printing mistakes are known as ‘mules’. These tend to be some of the most valuable, simply because they never intended to reach circulation – nor were they ever continued. Therefore, always check your coins for errors, as it’s a good sign you might have a genuine rarity actually worth more than the coin value alone.
What’s the most valuable coin of all time?
The most expensive coin of all time is the Flowing Silver Hair Dollar, a US minted coin that dates back only to 1974. Believe it or not, this coin is worth an eye-watering $10 million, or just over £7.6 million at the current exchange rate! Not a bad return on a coin you’d otherwise leave in a jar somewhere!
However, it’s rare that you’ll find coins that reach quite this level of wealth, certainly in the UK. The Royal Mint, who has been responsible for creating unique coins since at least the 9th century, runs a very tight ship! However, even the Mint recognises that some coins are extremely rare and are therefore considered valuable.
So, set yourself some expectations. It’s likely that if you do have a very rare coin off the Royal Mint, it may only be worth hundreds or thousands of pounds. Well – ‘only’ is perhaps an understatement!
I have some rare British coins – who can value them for me?
Before we take a look at the rare coins worth money in the UK right now, let’s consider who might help you realise fortunes beyond your wildest dreams. Believe it or not, your first port of call should be the Royal Mint themselves.
There are likely to be hundreds of Google results if you search for ‘coin valuation near me’. However, for our money, your safest bet should always be the Mint. After all, they are the most decorated experts in the valuation of coins, as well as their production!
All you need to do is head to the Royal Mint’s Collector Services page, and find out more about their authentication and valuation services. Handily, they will be happy to analyse and value coins over email – though, as to be expected, there may be a fee involved.
That’s why it pays to do a little research of your own before you share your photos with the Mint. The last thing you’ll want to do is have to pay out for valuations only to find your shrapnel really isn’t worth more than the metal it’s minted on!
That’s why we’re here – keep reading, and find out whether or not your own prized pennies make our list of rare coins worth money UK collectors are raring to pay out for.
10 Rare UK Coins Worth Money
Dig deep into your purse, your wallet, your handbag, your old jacket… if you pull out any of the following rare coins, you might just be quids in.
The 2008 Undated 20p (Error)
It’s pretty rare that the Mint will send coins out with errors, which makes this famous 2008 20p piece all the more collectable. It’s said that there are 250,000 of these coins still out there, cut short simply because they don’t have a date!
If you have one of these 20p pieces lurking in your wallet or purse, think yourself very lucky – it’s a quick £50, according to valuation. Many people are willing to pay more at auction, even on eBay – so check your 20ps for dates, and if they’re missing, you could be quids up.
The 2012 London Olympics 50p (Error)
We’ll go into a bit more detail about the London 2012 50p range further down in our guide, but for starters, let’s take a look at this famous minting mistake, which saw the ‘swimming’ event coin plunge the swimmer on the front a little too far beneath the waves!
If you have a London 2012 50p with a swimmer, and lines cross their face, you’re likely looking at a four-figure sum! You could find yourself cashing in a respectable £1,600, if not more. Be wary of copies, however, as auction sites online such as eBay are rife with replicas you can buy for less than £10. Therefore, if you do come across what you think is the real deal, get in touch with the Royal Mint for valuation.
The 2012 London Olympics 2p (Error)
Yes – seriously – it seems like the Mint was having a bit of a bad week! Some of their 2012 Olympic 2p coins were mistakenly printed on silver bases. If you look carefully at the sizing of 10ps and 2ps, they are virtually identical – the difference, of course, lies in the metal, and therefore, the weight.
2p coins are made in copper, and 10ps are made in silver. If you find that you have a 2012 2p that looks like a 10p – in that it’s silver – it’s a printing mistake that was hastily remedied. This means you’re going to look very closely at what your 10p coins actually say.
There’s nothing to say that this error hasn’t occurred again since 2012 – and if you do find a silver 2p piece, you could be looking at a return of anywhere between £400 and £1,300. That’s a bit of a wide margin, but at least it’s a significant boost on top of its original value! Keep them away from the tuppence shovers down the amusement arcade – and see if they’re worth more.
The 1917 George V Sovereign
We’re getting into big money indeed now – though this wartime coin is, by its manufacture, very small indeed! What’s interesting about this relic is that around a million of them were minted at the time of release – they weren’t your typical rare or valuable coins for quite some time.
It wasn’t until the majority were reportedly melted for bars that the coins became a serious collector’s item. In fact, it’s said that the vast majority of 1917 George V sovereigns were transferred over to the US.
Therefore, any straggler coins left behind are genuinely elusive – and as you can imagine, that’s going to mean serious money for you if you have one available.
Official valuations remain to be seen, but an authentic George V sovereign reached an impressive auction total of £11,000 – that’s life-changing money if you happen to have one lurking in your penny pot!
The 1937 Edward VIII Brass Threepence
We’re jumping ahead a few decades now, and we’re also jumping ahead in value, too. This Edward VIII is a real oddity in that it represents a coronation that never actually happened!
History buffs out there will have already filled in the blanks – Edward VIII actually abdicated the throne after the death of his father, King George V (whose sovereign you saw above). So, why was a coin marking his ascension even released?
Records show that this threepence only ever made it into circulation by way of a ‘test’. This is a true rarity, in that only ten – believe it or not – ever made it to mint! If you have one of these in your pocket, you are extremely lucky!
So much so, that – apparently – at least one collector has gotten their hands on the coin that never was – and it went up for sale at a staggering £30,000. Who’d have thought you could pay for the deposit on a house with a threepence?
The 1994 Elizabeth II Bank of England £2 Coin (300th Anniversary)
The £2 coin as we know it is very commonplace these days, but back in the early 90s, £2 in the shape of one coin was pretty much unheard of. Understandably, then, the 1994 tri-centennial anniversary release has always been considered a rare pick.
The coin you’re going to want to look out for is actually made of real gold – 22-carat, in fact. Of the anniversary line, the Mint produced around 1,000 of these 22-carat gold £2 coins to enter circulation, immediately making them collector’s items. Not as rare as the threepence that never was, of course, but an oddity all the same.
The gold proof version of this coin is said to be worth between £2,000 and £2,500. However, there’s a sting to this tale. As it turns out, there are many, many similar iterations of this coin that aren’t 22-carat. Therefore, if you do find one down the back of your settee, it’s worth sending a few pictures to the Royal Mint before you get too excited.
The more common variations of this coin are said to only be worth as much as £20 – 10x the value, in any case, and not to be sniffed at! However, 1,000x the value would be a dream come true for many collectors.
The 1344 Edward III Gold Florin (Double Leopard)
Yes – you read the date correctly. There are still some coins out there that are truly ancient, with this Gold Florin being one of the oldest and rarest-known coins ever discovered. In fact, this coin has only ever been found once since its minting, as far as records note.
Therefore, it’s unlikely to have a place in your purse, but you never know your luck – this coin was actually recovered from a river – not exactly the first place we’d go looking for treasure, but panning for gold seems to have its benefits.
The Edward III Gold Florin is worth an absolute fortune – back in its heyday, it would have been worth 30p based on our current pricing. However, at least 15 years ago, a collector paid a gobsmacking £460,000 for the coin – making it one of the most valuable coins ever unearthed in the British Isles. Worth getting into archaeology for?
The 2012 London Olympics 50p (Full Set)
If you were smart enough to start a collection of the full set of London 2012 Olympic Games 50p coins – which first emerged to help commemorate the festival in 2011 – chances are you might be able to cash in quite handsomely.
29 different 50p coins were produced to show off different sports that were unfolding during 2012’s Summer Games, with some of the more valuable coins being the wrestling and judo pieces. There’s even a 50p that commemorates football by explaining the offside rule!
Individual valuations for these coins can vary, with some appreciating 4x their value – so, worth around £2 each. However, if you’ve managed to collect a complete set, worth £14.50 at the time of minting, you may find you can cash them all in now for more than £100. Your luck may vary with this – meaning it’s worth researching previous sales on eBay, for example, before you go ahead and share your collection with the world.
Beatrix Potter 50 Pieces
Fans of Beatrix Potter may well remember that 2018 saw a limited release of coins to commemorate some of the author’s best-loved children’s characters. Of the most popular, Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny appear to have endured well in sales online. However, these coins likely have more value in terms of sentimentality than in terms of actual financial worth these days.
It is perhaps a little too early to expect much of a return from either Peter or Flopsy at this time, but it’s suggested you could get a return of around £6 or less for either coin. That’s 12x the value – not bad for a few years out of mint, but we’d probably suggest you hold onto these for a while, just in case.
The Royal Mint is also releasing in 2022 – for the last time ever – a coin to commemorate 120 years of The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Who knows whether this specific coin will be valuable, but it’s definitely a cute looking coin!
Kew Gardens 50p Pieces
What is it about the 50p piece and collectibility? There seem to be more rare 50ps produced than any other coin – and the collector’s edition Kew Gardens pieces were released in 2009, in a limited run of around 210,000. These pieces tend to be quite popular with the average coin fanatic, and thankfully, they should fetch you a little bit more than your average Peter Rabbit design.
Kew Gardens 50ps, if you are indeed lucky enough to hold any, should sell at reportedly £150+. This means you’re getting around 300x your initial value and then some. Therefore, it’s a nice little profit – not quite the threepence we looked at above, but a great little boost if you happen to hold one or two.
How do I find rare UK coins?
Weirdly enough, one of the best ways to come across rare UK coins – that might be worth money – is to simply come across them by accident. If you normally carry a lot of change around your person, it’s probably worth taking a bit of a dig deep into your stash to see if there’s anything you could cash in.
In many cases, those of us who like saving coins may not even realise what’s on our pennies until we actually take them out for a closer look. Unfortunately, it’s rare you’ll get a coin worth much more than its base value, but as you can see from our picks above, it’s not unheard of for the Mint to make a mistake.
A few tips to keep in mind
If you are set on finding rare coins worth money in the UK, don’t always be tempted by large-page spreads in magazines or on TV. Not everything that’s listed as an ‘official minted coin’ available on a ‘limited run’ will actually pick up value in the years to come. There are much better ways for you to invest your money – for example, to consider mobile trading, or even to invest in premium bonds!
Above all, never trust an eBay auction unless you can verify that the seller is truly legitimate. Feedback scores aren’t always the best markers for coin authenticity with online sales, so be sure to check their other auctions – there may be some auction houses and genuine collectors operating on eBay, but you’ll normally be able to spot chancers if you see lots of very similar auctions from the same sellers.
The best way to come into money through old coins is just to keep an eye on the change you accrue. It’s how plenty of people have made a little bit of money at auction! Sadly, it’s not a viable investment opportunity to retire on, but you never know your luck.
The next time you get change at the supermarket, petrol station, or even if you play tuppence shovers at the seaside amusement arcades – check your coins, and see if any of our picks on this list pop up. If you happen upon the Double Leopard, it’s safe to say you can probably afford a holiday or two!