Publish date:

British pocket change worth collecting


Where’s the date? This mule 20-pence coin can still be found in circulation in Great Britain.

Collectors in the United States often complain there is nothing worth collecting in our pocket change. Not so, if you happen to be in Great Britain!

Some so-called small change is bringing big money in merry old England. The coins currently gaining headlines are the 2009 20 pence circulation strike and the 2014 £2 one-ounce Lunar Britannia bullion coin. While most of these two coins are “normal,” there is a mule of each that, due to a mix-up in dies, is undated.

The Oct. 24 issue of the London tabloid The Sun reported, “…the 2009 undated 20 pence became the first coin in over 300 years to enter circulation without a date stamped on it.

“The coin was circulated after the reverse of each denomination from 1 pence to £1 was redesigned back in 2008. The coins were designed by Matthew Dent to feature a different part of the royal arms shield. Before this, the 20 pence had included the date on the reverse, but with the entire face of the coin now devoted to the new design, the Royal Mint produced a new die with the date on the same side as the queen’s head.”

The Sun said of the dateless 20-pence coins, “When the news was released about the coin, people across the nation were left checking their purses and pockets for it and it could still be worth the £50 today. Mint condition undated 20 pennies could even fetch as much as £100.

“However these coins remain legal tender and still have a face value of 20 pence.”

According to the August 2015 article, “To Error is Human, To Collect is Divine” by Scott Wren appearing in Coin News magazine, “The staunchly guarded publicity perceived veneration for the [British] Royal Mint’s ‘quality control’ practices has taken a hit of late. They have had to openly admit that errors do occur, and that they make it into circulation despite their best efforts.”

Wren notes in his article that error coins submitted to the BRM for examination are issued a “letter of verification” that is returned with the coin. The U.S. Mint does not offer any similar service.

It appears that despite Great Britain not having any silver coinage issued for circulation since 1946, there are quite a few more modern coins to be sought.

In 1983 two-pence coins were issued in special collector sets, some of the coins being muled with the 1982 reverse die. The legend on these mules reads as “new pence” rather than as “two pence.” There are 2005 Gun Powder Plot 400th Anniversary £2 coins with a lettered edge that reads “Pemember, Pemember” rather than “Remember, Remember.” The Gun Powder Plot coins were released into circulation.

Varieties of the various 2012 Olympic Games coins include an issue depicting a swimmer over whose face is covered with water appearing to be from a splash. Only 600 of these coins were released before the design was modified.

There is a 2012 Charles Dickens circulating commemorative £2 coin with a mintage of 20,000 pieces reported to be worth up to £8. Similar values have been suggested for the low mintage 2011 Mary Rose and for the 2011 King James Bible £2 coins.

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.

• The Standard Catalog of United States Paper Money is the only annual guide that provides complete coverage of U.S. currency with today’s market prices.