Modern Circulating Base Metal Coins

We receive calls daily from collectors with modern base metal £2, £1, 50p, 20p etc and ‘error’ versions of the same. Please note that unfortunately we do not buy and sell these coins.

In recent times the Royal Mint has seen itself put under considerable pressure to produce commemorative type coins in comparison with the older style one design type. This coupled with cut backs particularly in quality control, has seen considerably more of these ‘error’ types enter into circulation.

There has been much hype driven by the press and eBay as to expectation of high values for these coins. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation to be found on the internet and even deliberate misleading by crooks and con artists.

But the reality is that as a despite much press and eBay hype, the standard issue coins were minted often in many millions and ‘errors’ are more a curiosity and they generally only achieve £10 to £20 at most, despite some of the high prices being asked (but not achieved) for them.

When the new decimalised currency was introduced officially in 1971, all of the coins had the word ‘NEW’ on them and in 1971 specifically, around 1.5 Billion of each of the 1 and 2 pence coins were minted. This making them the most common coin issued for the series thus far.

The Royal Mint decided to continue with the word ‘New’ for a period of 10 years, before removing it from the coinage in 1982. However, in 1983 the Royal Mint inadvertently used the old die in error for a sample of the 2 pence’s and before it was noticed these had gone into circulation It is these that are rare and command a few hundred pound if you can find them.

I have also included below some information on other myths surrounding modern currency coins that you might find helpful.

In specific regard to 50p and £2 coins, these were issued in their millions, so like pretty much every other modern currency coin they are not in any way rare and as such do not have any investment or numismatic value other than 50p or £2 respectively. But due to sheer collector’s hype on eBay, you may get £2 or £3 for them there, from someone who is simply wanting to have a set. You might say that this is not a bad return. But for genuine Numismatists these are simply for spending as they were made to be used.

Upside down edge lettering myth

Depending on the denomination, some coins will have edge lettering to help against counterfeiting. What you may not know though, is the edge lettering is applied before the coin has even been struck which is why some coins can end up with the edge lettering either way around. These are not errors, but simply the minting process.

Base Metal Example

The one question we suggest people ask themselves, is: why would the Royal Mint put into circulation coins knowing that they would simply be sold on for a lot more money?

The exception to the above is the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p which sells from between £60 and £70 and Olympics Aquatics (withdrawn version) of the 50p which might achieve £500 – £800 and one early on it its discovery achieving £3,000. But I suspect that is very much an exception to the rule. It is estimated that at least 600 failed to be returned to the mint and therefore it is not unfeasible you have one of these.

The one on the left is the valuable one. There is much hype and misinformation on both eBay and in the press. These types of enquiries now make up around 70% of enquires dealers receive.