Skip to main content

British coin prices go wild

 Only 375 of the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50-pence coins were initially released.

Only 375 of the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50-pence coins were initially released.

What do Prince George, Sir Isaac Newton, and Charles Dickens have in common? Coins struck to honor each of them are selling for some first-rate prices in the secondary market.

And the list doesn’t stop there! Peter Rabbit and other recently minted coins of Great Britain are realizing some very impressive prices. Why is it that most U.S. commemorative coins go down in price following their initial offering, yet a significant number of Great Britain’s recent commemoratives have gone the other direction?

Mintages have a lot to do with it. So does availability, since some of the British issues circulated as money rather than simply being non-circulating legal tender issues. Yes, the United States has issued such circulating commemoratives as the Statehood quarter series and Presidential dollar coins for use as money, but look at the difference in how many were issued and the supply versus the demand for these issues. While there is keen interest in checking your change in Great Britain, that excitement is muted here on the other side of the pond.

Some of the recent interest in British coins has been fueled by errors. There have been sufficient manufacturing mistakes to catch the attention of the non-coin collecting public. But it doesn’t end there. There have been some headline-grabbing coins issued in recent years that are in demand simply because the British Royal Mint didn’t make very many of them.

One coin that has been recently drawing a lot of interest is the 2013 Prince George Royal Christening £5 silver Proof, a coin that was recently being offered on eBay for $250. The mintage for this 0.925 fine or sterling silver coin is 7,264 pieces. A gold variety and a more modest circulation strike were also produced. No information was available at the time this article was being written about the current value of the 2,013 silver penny coins given exclusively to other babies born at the same hospital (St. Mary’s in London) on the same day.

There has been significant press coverage of the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50-pence coins initially offered exclusively at Woolsthorpe Manor, where the 375th anniversary of the birth of this master of the Royal Mint was celebrated. According to the Sept. 29 issue of The Sun newspaper, “Just 375 Sir Isaac Newton 2017 50-pence coins are being released into tills at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire.”

More Newton coins were to be released into general circulation later; however, the initial release has been selling for as much as £120 (about $156 US). The National Trust coordinated with the BRM for the coin’s initial release.

Another hot coin is the circulation strike 2012 Charles Dickens £2, a coin that didn’t have “great expectations” when it initially circulated but today is reported to sell for £8 (about $10 US).

There are a significant number of recently issued British coins that are commanding a premium. Another headline-grabbing example is the 2016 Benjamin Bunny color enhanced Beatrice Potter/Peter Rabbit 50 pence. This coin was recently offered on eBay for £70 or about $91 US. The entire Peter Rabbit series, regardless of the type and variety, is popular and commands a strong premium.

Among the many recent British coins actively being sought by collectors is the 1992 European Commission 50 pence, a coin described by one publication as being of the “old fashion, thicker” type issued prior to the reduction of the diameter and weight of coins of that denomination. The circulation strike sells for £55.

Some other coins worth noting include the 2003 Suffragette 50 pence, 2009 Kew Gardens 50 pence in proof set (recently offered on eBay for £213), 2011 World Wildlife Fund 50 pence proof (recently selling for £18) and the first variety of the 2012 London Olympics Aquatics 50 pence.

Collecting fever is rampant in Great Britain. Some collectors were reported to be paying as much as £300 to get the new £5 bank note when it was first released in September. The note is now available at face value over the counter at banks.

This article was originally printed in World Coin News. >> Subscribe today.

More Collecting Resources

• Check out the newly-updated Standard Catalog of World Coins, 2001-Date that provides accurate identification, listing and pricing information for the latest coin releases.

• Start becoming a coin collector today with this popular course, Coin Collecting 101.