rare british coins

December 2023

Rare British Coins: A Guide to the Rarest and Most Valuable Coins in the UK In December 2023

If you are a coin collector or just interested in British history, rare British coins may pique your interest. 

This article examines the history and characteristics of some of the rarest and most valuable British coins. We will discuss the most practical and coveted coins, from Edward VIII coins to Kew Gardens 50p coins.

Topics that you will find covered on this page

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What is the most expensive coin in the world?

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 are Rare British Coins?

British coins no longer circulated or have a 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.

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.

Why Are These Coins Rare?

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.

Edward VIII Coins


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.

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.

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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


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.

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.

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.

George V Sovereigns


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.

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.

Old British Coins

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


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.

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.

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

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.

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. 

Which British coins are 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, British coins worth money to different collectors are not difficult to find.

rare UK coins

What are the top 10 rarest coins in the UK?

Collectors covet the top ten rarest coins in the United Kingdom due to scarcity, historical significance, and pristine condition. The 1933 penny is one of the world’s rarest coins. The George V sovereign is a highly sought-after coin, with only a few known examples. The Kew Gardens 50p is also a rare coin

Other rare coins include the 1983 New Pence 2p, the 2002 Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland £2, and the 2012 Olympic Aquatics 50p and 2011 Olympic Wrestling 50p. 

When determining the scarcity and value of a coin, collectors pay close attention to the scarcity index and mintage figures.

Which coins are scarce?

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
Why is the 1933 penny rare?

Because only a handful of these coins were struck, the 1933 penny is the most rare 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.

How many 1933 pennies have been found?

There have only been a few 1933 pennies discovered. The 1933 penny is a very uncommon coin, and the majority of the handful that were produced were later melted down. It is difficult to estimate how many 1933 pennies are still in existence because they are rare and highly valued by collectors.

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 factors such as rarity, condition, and demand. Along with the 1933 penny, the following pennies are the most wanted coins by collectors.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Error Coins

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

Low Mintage Years

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

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 silver threepence?

The 1923 silver threepenny is the rarest type of silver coin. Due to its low mintage and historical significance, this coin is extremely difficult to find. Due to their scarcity in 1923, these threepence coins are highly prized by numismatists and collectors around the world.

In order to increase its appeal and desirability, the coin has a traditional design with King George V on the front and a crowned three-headed thrift plant on the reverse.

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 very fast.

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 compared to other designs in the series and increased demand from collectors and enthusiasts.

What is the rarest coin in circulation?

Out of the rare UK coins in circulation, the 2012 Olympic Games Aquatics 50p coin is the rarest. One of the various designs released to commemorate the London Olympics in 2012 was this coin. 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 being covered in water, perfectly encapsulating the theme of the Aquatics competitions. One of the most sought-after coins among collectors due to its exceptional rarity and link to a significant historical event.

Why is 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?

£5 coin value and rarity 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.

Do collectors want any rare UK coins?

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.

Can you sell coins on the Royal Mint website?

No, the Royal Mint does not provide a marketplace for any coin sell or individuals to sell their coins. However, they provide information and resources for collectors, such as the history of British coins, coin sets, and commemorative coins.

Where can I get coins valued?

There are various trustworthy solutions accessible if you want to have your coins valued in the UK. Start by going to nearby coin dealers who are qualified to evaluate the value of your collection based on elements like rarity, condition, and demand. You may also consider contacting renowned auction houses that commonly deal with numismatic objects because they can offer valuations and perhaps even help you sell your coins to potential buyers.

You can contact expert collectors who might be prepared to offer informal appraisals through online coin forums and numismatic clubs, which can also provide insightful information.

Whatever route you take, don’t forget to conduct your homework and get other opinions to fully comprehend your coins’ worth.

Are there similar coins to the Edward VIII coins?

Yes, there are coins similar to the Edward VIII coins, including the George VI coins that were issued after the abdication of Edward VIII. 

These coins have designs, coin features, and characteristics comparable to those of the Edward VIII coins and are highly sought after by collectors.

how to start coin collecting uk?How many coins are in a typical coin collection?

Depending on the collector’s interests, budget, and objectives, the number of coins in a typical coin collection can vary greatly. 

Others collect coins worldwide, while others specialise in ancient or British coins.

What is the Swimmer’s Face 50p coin?

The Royal Mint released the Swimmer’s Face 50p coin in 2020 to commemorate the postponed 2020 Olympic Games. The coin depicts an underwater swimmer’s face with a mintage of 1.4 million.

What is the decimal system, and when was it introduced in the UK?

The decimal system is a monetary system based on the number ten, in which each unit is a multiple of ten. It was introduced in 1971 to replace the last pounds, shillings, and pence system in the United Kingdom. 

The implementation of the decimal system necessitated the creation of new coins with different designs and characteristics.

Can you store rare coins in a piggy bank?

While it is possible to store coins in a piggy bank, it is not recommended for rare or valuable coins. Typical piggy banks are made of materials unsuitable for long-term coin storage and do not provide adequate protection from the elements. 

It is advised that rare and valuable coins be stored in coin holders or coin storage boxes explicitly created for coin collecting.

What is Fort Knox, and how is it related to coins?

Fort Knox is a post of the United States Army in Kentucky best known for housing the nation’s gold reserves. It is not directly associated with coins in the United Kingdom, but it is a well-known symbol of safekeeping for valuables such as gold.

What is a piedfort coin?

In numismatics, a piedfort coin is a specific kind of currency that is heavier and thicker than a regular coin of the same denomination. “Piedfort” is a combination of the French words “pied” (which means foot) and “fort” (which means strong).

These coins are frequently made using the same dies as conventional coins but are struck more forcefully, giving them a thicker profile.

Piedfort coins are frequently made in small quantities and are prized by collectors for their distinctive design and rarity. These coins enhance numismatic collections with a touch of elegance and distinction as eye-catching commemorative pieces or special editions.

What is Change Checker?

Change Checker is an online platform for tracking and collecting British coins. The website provides information on the history and characteristics of various British coins and tools for organising and displaying coin collections. 

Change Checker also provides a service that enables users to trade coins with other collectors.

Meet the author

Rob Atherton

Rob Atherton

Rob writes and edits the content produced by the rest of the team. He has a degree in History from Leeds University and has producing, reviewing and editing the site since 2016

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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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