rare british coins

April 2024

A Guide to Rare and Valuable Coins in the UK | April 2024

This article discusses the fascinating world of rare British coins, offering a guide to coins wanted by collectors. The article will help you do the following – 

1 – Understand the importance of familiarising oneself with rare and valuable British coins.

2 – Learn about the key factors contributing to the rarity and value of coins, including historical context, mintage numbers, and condition.

3 – Discover the main categories and examples of rare British coins, such as Victoria an era coins, decimalisation, and modern commemorative coins.

4 – Gain insights into the benefits of recognising and college ecting rare coins, including potential financial gains and the enjoyment of historical exploration.

5 – Encourage actions post-reading, such as starting or enhancing a coin collection, researching the history behind specific coins, and considering the investment potential of rare coins.

Key Takeaways & Learnings From This Page on Rare English Coins

1 – The rarity of British coins is often due to limited mintage, historical events, or errors during production, making them highly desirable to collectors.

2 – The Edward VIII coins are among the rarest due to his abdication and the limited number of coins minted with his image.

3 – Commemorative coins, like the Kew Gardens 50p, are valuable androids  offer a glimpse into the cultural and historical moments they represent.

4 – The transition to decimalisation in 1971 marked a significant change in the UK’s coinage system, affecting the rarity and value of pre-decimal coins.

5 – Collectors and investors should consider the condition, rarity, and historical significance of coins when assessing their value.

6 – The article provides a price guide and categories for rare British coins, aiding collectors in identifying and valuing their collections.

7 – Actions related to the URL topic may include starting a coin collection, researching the history and value of specific coins, and considering the investment potential of rare British coins.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

What are Rare British Coins?

British coins no longer circulated or have limited mintage are considered rare. Collectors desire these coins due to their scarcity and historical significance.

The Royal Mint is responsible for coin production in the United Kingdom and regularly releases new coins.

However, certain coins have become scarce and valuable over time, with only a few remaining

Some British coins are scarce because of their limited mintage. To commemorate the 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens, a commemorative 50p coin was issued, and only 210,000 were produced.

Similarly, the Edward VIII coins were never circulated due to the abdication crisis, and only a handful remained.

History of British Coins

The United Kingdom has used coins since the first century BCE. During the Roman occupation of Britain, the first coins were struck from gold, silver, and bronze.

Throughout history, coins have been minted for various purposes, including commemorating events, honouring the monarchy, and promoting national pride. The United Kingdom continues producing coins with new designs and characteristics.

The Allure of Rare English and British Coins

Rare English coins and British rare coins represent a fascinating chapter in the numismatic world. Their allure lies in their unique stories and the glimpses they offer into Britain’s rich historical tapestry. From the rare old British coins discovered in forgotten hoards to the rarest British coins that have eluded collectors for generations, each piece holds a story waiting to be told. Pursuing these coins is not just about the thrill of the hunt but also about preserving a piece of history for future generations.

Understanding Coin Valuation

It’s important to understand the factors determining a coin’s value to determine how much it may be worth. 

1 – Mintage Numbers and Rarity

The number of coins minted in a particular series directly influences its rarity and, by extension, its value. For example, the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p coin, with a mintage of just 210,000, is considered one of the rarest and most valuable coins in circulation due to its limited availability.

2 – Condition and Preservation

The physical condition of a coin plays a crucial role in its valuation. Coins in pristine, uncirculated condition, especially those free from scratches, discolouration, and other marks, are valued higher than those showing wear and tear.

Collectors often refer to the Sheldon Scale, ranging from 1 (poor) to 70 (perfect), to grade a coin’s condition.

3 – Historical Significance

Coins that mark significant historical events or periods are often more valuable. Their worth is not just in the metal they’re made from, but in the stories, they tell. For instance, coins minted during the reign of a short-lived monarch or to commemorate a pivotal moment in history can attract higher values.

4 – Market Demand

Ultimately, a coin’s value is also determined by current market demand. Trends in collecting can fluctuate, with specific periods, designs, or themes becoming more popular over time. Keeping abreast of these trends is crucial for understanding the potential value of a coin.

Rare British Coins Categories 

Here is a guide to some of the key types of rare coins. 

1 – Victorian Era Coins

The Victorian era, marked by industrial progress and empire expansion, produced some of British history’s most intricate and symbolically rich coins. Whilst many Victorian coins are fairly common, there are some particularly rare 

2 – Decimalisation and Its Impact

The decimalisation of 1971 was pivotal in British numismatics, introducing a new coinage system that reshaped collecting and valuation. Here, we explore the transition from the old to the new system, examining the impact on coin design, circulation, and collector interest.

3 – Monarchs and Money

Each British monarch has left a numismatic legacy, from the hammered coins of the medieval period to the machine-struck pieces of the modern era. This section categorizes coins by the rulers who issued them, offering insights into the political and economic influences on their minting.

4 – Modern Commemorative Coins

The Royal Mint has issued various commemorative coins to mark significant national events and figures in recent decades. This segment showcases these modern collectables, detailing their creation, themes, and the stories they commemorate.

Edward VIII Coins

Edward VIII coins are some of the most coveted by collectors in the UK due to their historical significance. 

1 – Background

After the passing of his father, George V, on January 20, 1936, Edward VIII ascended to the throne of the United Kingdom.

However, on December 11, 1936, he abdicated the throne to marry Wallis Simpson, a divorced American woman. As a result, coins bearing his image were never put into circulation, making them extremely scarce.

2 – Characteristics and Rarity of Edward VIII Coins

The Edward VIII coins were never circulated; only a handful remain today. The four coins each were struck in gold, silver, and copper nickel with a portrait of Edward VIII on the obverse.

The gold sovereign is the rarest of these coins, as only a few were struck. The rarity of these coins has increased their desirability among collectors.

3 – Valuation of Edward VIII Coins

Depending on their rarity and condition, the value of Edward VIII coins varies. In 2020, a set of gold-proof coins from 1937, including the sovereign, sold for over £800,000.

Other Edward VIII coins sold can range in value from a few thousand to several hundred thousand pounds.

Peter Rabbit 50p Coins

Issued in 2016, Peter Rabbit coins are one of the rarest coins found in circulation in the UK. 

1 – Background

The Royal Mint issued the Peter Rabbit 50p coins in 2016 to celebrate Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday. The coins depict popular children’s book characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, and Squirrel Nutkin.

2 – Characteristics and Rarity of Peter Rabbit 50p Coins

Peter Rabbit 50p coins are made of cupronickel and measure 27.3mm in diameter. The coins feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and Beatrix Potter character illustrations on the reverse.

The Jemima Puddle-Duck coin is the rarest of these, as only 2.1 million were struck.

3 – Valuation of Peter Rabbit 50p Coins

Peter Rabbit 50p coins have varying values based on their rarity and condition. The Jemima Puddle-Duck coin has a discount of up to £25 and is the rarest and most valuable of the series.

Depending on their rarity and condition, the value of other coins in the series ranges from a few to hundreds of pounds. These coins could be a valuable addition to a collector’s collection.

Old British Coins

George V Sovereigns

Here is a guide to the value and historical significance of George V sovereigns. 

1 – Background

From 1910 until he died in 1936, George V was the monarch of the United Kingdom. During his reign, several coins were struck, including gold sovereigns, now highly coveted by collectors.

2 – Characteristics and Rarity of George V Sovereigns

George V sovereigns were struck in gold, depicting Saint George slaying the dragon on the other side.

The rarity of these coins is determined by their year of minting and their condition. The George V sovereign from 1917 is one of the series’s rarest and most valuable coins, with only a handful still existing.

3 – Valuation of George V Sovereigns

George V sovereigns have varying values based on their rarity and condition. For example, the George V sovereign from 1917 can fetch up to £500,000 at auction.

Depending on their rarity and shape, the value of other George V sovereigns ranges from a few hundred to tens of thousands of pounds worth selling for.

Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection

Here is a guide to the Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection. 

1 – Background

In 2020, the Royal Mint will release the Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection to commemorate the foundation stones of British buildings.

Each coin in the collection depicts a different structure, including Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, and Caernarfon Castle.

2 – Characteristics and Rarity of Foundation Stones Collection Coins

The silver coins in the Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection feature a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a design depicting a building’s foundation stone on the other.

The Buckingham Palace coin is the rarest of these, with a mintage of only 14,000.

3 – Valuation of Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection

The worth of Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection coins varies depending on their rarity and condition. The Buckingham Palace coin has a maximum value of £250, making it the most valuable of the series.

Depending on their rarity and condition, the estimated value of other coins in the series ranges from a few pounds to over one hundred.

Gold Anglo-Saxon Coins

Gold Anglo-Saxon coins are some of the rarest and most valuable coins wanted by collectors in the UK. 

1 – Background

Gold Anglo-Saxon coins were struck in England between the seventh and eighth centuries. Due to their historical significance and scarcity, collectors highly covet these coins.

2 – Characteristics and Rarity of Gold Anglo-Saxon Coins

The designs and inscriptions on gold Anglo-Saxon coins date from when they were minted. The rarity of these coins is determined by their year of minting and their condition.

The coin with the highest value is the Coenwulf gold shilling, worth over £357,000.

3 – Valuation of Gold Anglo-Saxon Coins

The value of old coins can vary depending on their rarity and condition. The Coenwulf gold shilling is the most valuable coin in the series, but other coins can also fetch high prices depending on their rarity, face value and condition.

The history of rare British coins is a fascinating aspect of British culture, with many coins becoming rare and valuable.

From Edward VIII coins to Kew Gardens 50p coins, these coins offer collectors a glimpse into the past and are in high demand. Consider adding these coins to your collection or selling them for extra cash if you are interested in rare British coins.

rare UK coins

Rare Coins Worth Money

Numerous British coins have monetary value based on rarity, condition, and historical significance. The George V sovereign from 1917, the 1933 penny, and the Kew Gardens 50p are some of the UK’s rarest and most valuable coins.

These coins are highly desirable among collectors and can fetch substantial sums at auction.

Rare UK coins such as the Gold Anglo-Saxon, Elizabeth II Foundation Stones Collection, and various error coins are also valuable. The market for rare and valuable coins constantly evolves; coin collectors always look for such items. Ultimately, B ritish coins worth money to different collectors are not difficult to find.

Most Valuable British Coins 

Several British coins are considered extremely rare, and collectors are eager to acquire them. The 1933 penny is one of the world’s rarest coins, as only a handful are known to exist. The George V sovereign from 1917 is also considered extremely rare, with only a few remaining. Due to its limited mintage, the Kew Gardens 50p is also highly coveted.

Various error coins were minted during the First and Second World Wars, and coins with low mintage figures are also considered extremely rare. Online auction sites have facilitated the acquisition of scarce coins by collectors, but care must be taken when dealing with coin dealers and sellers.

What is the Most Valuable British Coin?

The value of a coin can be determined by various factors, including its scarcity, condition, and historical significance. The penny from 1933 is one of the most valuable UK coins, fetching up to £100,000 at auction.

This coin is scarce, as only a handful exist. The sovereign from the reign of George V in 1917 is also a precious coin, with some examples selling for over £500,000.

Before investing in a rare coin, collectors should conduct extensive research on the rare coin market. The Royal Mint and the Royal Mint Museum are excellent information sources regarding British coins.

What Is The Rarest Date on a Penny?

The rarest date on a UK penny is the 1933 penny. It is extremely scarce and highly sought after by collectors. Only a few of these rare pennies were minted, and most of them were subsequently melted down. The remaining ones are considered valuable numismatic treasures.

Because only a handful of these coins were struck, the 1933 penny is the rarest English penny. Due to the Great Depression, the Royal Mint decided not to produce any pennies in 1933, but a small number of 1933 pennies were made for ceremonial purposes.

It is believed that only seven of these coins were ever struck, making them exceedingly rare and valuable. The 1933 penny is also notable because it was the first year that King George V’s portrait appeared on a coin.

Only a few 1933 pennies have been discovered. The 1933 penny is a very uncommon coin, and most of the handful produced were later melted down. It is difficult to estimate how many 1933 pennies exist because they are rare and highly valued by collectors.

Most Wanted Coins By Collectors

The 1794 Flowing Hair Silver Dollar is the most costly coin ever made. The first silver dollar ever produced by the United States Mint was this precious coin, which is coveted among numismatists.

The most expensive coin ever sold at the time was a specimen of this denomination that Stack’s Bowers Galleries sold at a public auction in January 2013 for more than $10 million. Its rareness, historical value, and exquisite condition all played a part in its record-breaking price.

What Pennies are Worth Money?

In the UK, certain pennies are considered valuable and can be worth money to collectors. These values can vary significantly depending on rarity, condition, and demand. Along with the 1933 penny, the following pennies are the most wanted coins by collectors.

1 – 1954 “Doubled Die” Penny

The obverse side of the 954 “Doubled Die” Penny has a doubling effect, especially on the image of Queen Elizabeth II. It can be expensive because it is an uncommon kind.

2 – 1969 “New Pence” Penny

1971 saw the UK’s “New Pence” coin (circa 1969) change from “New Pence” to “Pence.” On occasion, the inscription “New Pence” was accidentally minted on a limited quantity of 1969 pennies. These are uncommon and can have value over their face value.

3 – 1983 “New Pence” 2p Coin

Similar to the 1969 penny, some 1983 2p coins were accidentally produced with the words “New Pence” rather than “Two Pence.” Collectors will value these as well.

4 – Pre-decimal Pennies

Pennies that were produced prior to 1971’s decimalization are sometimes valuable, particularly those that are in great shape or come from particular years.

5 – Error Coins

Coins having minting faults, such as double or off-center strikes, can be prised by coin collectors.

6 – Low Mintage Years

Years with Low Mintages: Some pennies from particular years may have Low Mintages, which makes them Rarer and possibly More Valuable.

7 – Limited Edition Commemorative Pennies

Limited Edition Commemorative Pennies: Special edition pennies issued to mark occasions or anniversaries sometimes have a higher value than their face value.

What Is The Rarest £2 Coin?

The rarest £2 coin is the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2 coin. Minted to commemorate the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002, this coin was issued with specific designs representing each of the UK’s four constituent countries. The Northern Ireland design has the rarest mintage of the series, making it particularly difficult to find in circulation.

Its intricate design features a representation of sport and athleticism in Northern Ireland, and its scarcity has made it a prized possession among coin collectors.

What Is The Rarest 20p Coin?

The undated 20p coin, sometimes known as the “mule” mistake, is the most uncommon 20p coin. A small number of 20p coins were unintentionally produced in 2008 with the Queen’s head on the obverse from the previous design and without the customary date on the reverse.

Due to a production error that went undiscovered, a rare and valuable coin variant was produced. Due to its rarity and high demand in the numismatic field, the undated 20p coin attracted collectors’ attention quickly.

What Is The Rarest 1-Pound Coin?

The the rarest coin in the UK is the 2011 Edinburgh design of the UK’s series of coins featuring several locations is the rarest £1 coin. The reverse of this coin has an eye-catching image of Edinburgh Castle, which serves as a showcase for the city.

The 2011 Edinburgh £1 coin is one of the rarest uk coins in circulation because of its lesser mintage than other series designs and increased demand from collectors and enthusiasts.

What Is The Rarest Coin In Circulation?

Of the rare UK coins in circulation, the 2012 Olympic Games Aquatics 50p coin is the rarest. This coin was one of the various designs released to commemorate the London Olympics in 2012. However, only a tiny fraction of these coins—approximately 600 pieces—were made available for general use.

The 50p Aquatics design shows a swimmer’s face is covered in water, perfectly encapsulating the theme of the Aquatics competitions. It is one of the most sought-after coins among collectors due to its exceptional rarity and link to a significant historical event.

Why Is A 1982 20p Coin Rare?

Due to a mistake in the minting process, the 1982 20p coin is scarce. In 1982, the Royal Mint decided to change the size of the 20p coin; however, some coins were minted with an old design intended for the previous, smaller-sized 20p coin.

This error caused a small number of coins to have the Queen’s head on the reverse side rather than the obverse.

Due to its scarcity, 1982 20p coin is highly sought after by collectors and can fetch substantial sums at auction. The coin’s reverse features the Queen’s head, which is highly unusual and contributes to its rarity.

Despite its rarity, 1982 20p coin is still in circulation, making it a possible undiscovered gem for coin collectors.

What Are The Rarest Coins Associated With The First World War?

The rarest coins associated with the First World War are the George V sovereign from 1915 and the George V florin from 1918. Both coins have low mintage and are in high demand among collectors.

Is a £5 Coin Rare?

The value and rarity of a £5 coin depends on its specific design, mintage figures, and collector interest.

Some commemorative or limited-issue £5 coins can be considered rare £5 coins and hold a higher value, while standard £5 coins minted for general circulation are not as uncommon.

Are Old Coins Worth Anything?

Yes, collectors actively seek a variety of rare British coins, including the 1933 penny, the 1917 George V sovereign, and the Kew Gardens 50p coin.

Also in high demand are error coins, coins with low mintage figures, and coins with historical significance.

How To Tell If a Coin is Rare

Research and numismatics expertise are required to determine the rarity of a coin. Keep an eye out for minting dates, distinctive patterns, and low mintage amounts.

To establish a coin’s rarity, consult coin catalogues, online resources or get guidance from seasoned collectors. Condition is also important; coins in good condition are frequently worth more.

In the end, rarity is relative, so determining a coin’s rarity requires an awareness of its historical significance and collector demand.

How To Sell Old Coins

There are various methods available in the UK for selling antique coins. Find the finest platform for your collection by researching coin dealers, auction houses, and internet markets.

By reviewing pricing guides or getting expert appraisals, make sure you have a solid idea of the value of your coins. Local coin dealers could be a practical option for single coins or modest collections.

As an alternative, auction houses provide items more exposure to potential purchasers, while internet marketplaces offer a large audience and simple selling.

Our Final Thoughts

Exploring rare British coins offers a unique window into the UK’s rich numismatic history and cultural heritage. From the Victorian era to modern commemorative issues, these coins tell stories of monarchy, national pride, and significant historical events. 

Collectors and enthusiasts are drawn to these coins’ rarity, beauty, and historical significance, making them valuable pieces of history and potentially lucrative investments. Here are seven key pieces of information presented in this article – 

1 – Rare British coins, such as Edward VIII coins, Kew Gardens 50p, and Victorian-era coins, are highly sought after for their historical and monetary value.

2 – The rarity of these coins is often due to limited mintage, historical significance, or production errors.

3 – Decimalisation in 1971 significantly impacted the rarity and value of British coins, making pre-decimal coins particularly valuable.

4 – Modern commemorative coins celebrate significant national events and figures, adding diversity and interest to collections.

5 – A coin’s condition, rarity, and historical significance are critical factors in determining its value.

6 – Collecting rare British coins can be a rewarding hobby with financial benefits and a deep connection to history.

7-  Actionable steps include starting or enhancing a coin collection, researching specific coins’ history and value, and considering the investment potential of rare coins.

Meet the author

Tom Walker

Tom is a Content Writer and Editor for UK Care Guide, having previously acted as Head of Online for the Manchester Historian, and also the former editor for The Peterloo Institute.

Tom is a graduate of the University of  Manchester with a BA (Hons) History degree. 

His particular specialisms include writing on issues relating to later life (e.g. stairlifts, live-in care) and elderly care, having previously worked in a care capacity.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine the value of a rare British coin?

Multiple factors must be considered to determine the value of a rare British coin. First, the coin’s rarity is a significant factor in determining its importance, with rarer coins commanding higher prices on average. In addition, the coin’s condition is crucial, as cash in excellent condition is considerably more valuable than those in poor need. In addition, the historical significance of a coin can affect its value. 

Collectors may consult a reputable coin dealer or auction house to ascertain their rare coins’ accurate value. Additionally, online resources such as the Royal Mint and Change Checker websites can provide valuable information regarding rare British coins.

How can I sell my rare UK coins?

Those interested in selling their rare UK coins have access to several options. Consultation with a reputable coin dealer or auction house is the first step in determining the value of the coins. Once the value of the coins has been determined, the owner can sell them privately, at auction, or by consignment to a dealer. Finding a buyer willing to purchase coins personally can be time-consuming and difficult. There are fees associated with selling through an auction house, but auctions offer a larger audience and can result in higher prices for the coins. 

The final option is to consign coins to a dealer, who typically takes a commission on the sale. Before selling rare UK coins, it is essential to research the coin dealer or auction house, regardless of the chosen method.

What are some of the rarest British coins?

Several British coins are rare and highly desired by coin collectors. The 1933 penny is one of the world’s rarest coins, with only a few known examples. A small number of George V sovereigns from 1917 are also highly coveted. With only 210,000 produced, the Kew Gardens 50p coin is another rare British coin. 

Other rare English coins include the coins of Edward VIII, the Gold Anglo-Saxon coins, and several error coins. The rarity and value of a coin are determined by factors such as the year of minting, the quantity produced, and the condition of the coin.

Are rare UK coins a good investment?

Although rare British coins can be precious, investing in them requires caution. Collecting rare coins can be a gratifying hobby; however, the value of rare coins is subject to market fluctuations, and there are no return guarantees. 

In addition, investing in rare coins requires a comprehensive understanding of the rare coin market and the ability to identify and appraise rare coins accurately. Consult with a reputable coin dealer and conduct extensive research on the coin market if you are interested in investing in rare coins.

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