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Change Checker UK

Updated on February 16, 2017
lottiedot profile image

I collected old coins as a child and recently became interested in current coins in circulation, so thought I would share my experience.

What is it all about?

Why all the fuss, it seems that every time you read the news, another story about a rare coin or mint error hits you in the face. These articles seem to come from the same cookie cutter, with the common theme being: check your moneybox, check down the back of your sofa, you could receive a coin worth £70, £200 or even £3000 in your change.

Is there really treasure in our pockets?

Yes, but most coins are worth their face value to everyone, some coins are worth a few times their face value to Great British Coin Hunt collectors, only a few coins have a value to get a bit excited about such as the Kew Gardens 50p which at the time of writing is selling on eBay for about £70.

Take all values the refer to eBay with a pinch of salt of course, in this article only confirmed sold values are used, not "for sale" prices that many are keen to quote, the higher the better it would seem.

A real handful

A real handful of £2, £1 and 50p coins
A real handful of £2, £1 and 50p coins

How to get your hands on collectable coins

Many of us find a special coin in the change we receive from shops we visit, but what other ways are there to find the coins you don't see every day.

This is a question I asked myself, when I decided to see how many of the less common versions of £2, £1 and 50p coins I could find.

As I live in a seaside town, the first thing I thought of was arcades - with change machines and fruit machines. This was not a complete failure, but is generally only any good for £1 coins. I found a few uncommon designs including a Capital Cities Badges London and a Floral emblem of Scotland £1. I did find a fruit machine that would take in pound coins and pay out different ones without actually playing any games, so this was helpful in seeing at least 200 coins in 20 minutes.

This led me to think of bigger an better ways to check change. Having got a few £20 bags of £2 coins and £10 bags of 50p coins from my local bank - the next logical step was to order £1000 worth of £2 coins. So 2 big bags of 25 little bags of coins gave me 500 coins to check.

£500 in £2 Coins

£500 in £2 coins
£500 in £2 coins

My bank raid

Right, this may be where I got a bit carried away and my bank raids netted me 1250 £2 coins, 500 £1 coins and 5000 50p coins which is £5,500 and was very heavy!

With big bags of coins and a spreadsheet, I proceeded to catalogue all the coins recording a count for each non-standard coin design. Why? you ask, I did it for you. In case you're interested the counts found of each design is shown in the table at the bottom of this page as Bank Raid Count.

£10 of shiny Britannia

Britannia £2 Coins
Britannia £2 Coins

Completing your coin collection

Big bags of coins from the bank is great at first, but after a few thousand pounds worth of coins, lots of the same coin keep appearing, so completing the collection starts to slow down - then it was time to see if the internet could help, and yes, yes it could.

Swapping coins with other collectors of coins in circulation is available on www.changechecker.org. The service matches you with users that have a coin you need and you have a coin that they need. Swapping is like for like denominations (i.e. 50p for 50p) where you arrange to post the items via direct email conversations.

The idea of swapping is good in principle, but there are a few flaws. The actual value and rarity of the coin you're swapping could be very different to the swap you will receive. This makes some swap requests favour one or other party, but I guess if you have a spare then you don't really care. What if you swap a coin in great condition for a untidy example of the coin you want - I assume detailed photos would be exchanged before the swap is agreed. Finally you will be trusting the swapper to send the coin and relying on the Royal Mail or similar service to deliver it safely to you.

If swapping does not suit, there is always good old eBay with hundreds of sellers listing every coin in circulation at a number of times face value. Sellers will charge as much as they think you will pay, so be careful and review previously sold items. The table below includes estimated valuation information for many of the coins in circulation today and is based on eBay sold coins from February 2017. This data is reproduced from rare2poundcoins.co.uk, rare1poundcoins.co.uk and rare50pencecoins.co.uk with permission.

If eBay prices seem a bit steep for a circulation coin that could be given to you in change, then another buying option you might consider is purchasing direct from The Royal Mint. You can purchase Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) versions of newly released coins, but older coins are not available. BU means the coin is in as new condition with crisp detail as it has been struck twice instead of just once. Older coins may be available from The Westminster Collection who sell BU new coins as well as uncirculated and circulated examples of older coins dependent on stock. Take note of prices and specifications as some coins will show as Finish: Brilliant Uncirculated or Condition: Uncirculated or Condition: Circulated. Circulated coins may have a few imperfections, so bear this in mind.

A new online change checking service has added one more way to get started or help complete your collection of coin designs for 50 pence pieces, 1 pound coins and 2 pound coins. Check change online, but how? you ask (as did I). The website runs an app which allows you to check virtual change. If you see a coin you want, you can claim it as yours and buy it for face value. The app is available at coinhunter.co.uk and even offers prizes for the best virtual coin collection.

What about condition?

To real coin collectors condition is everything, but to the more relaxed collectors of coins in circulation is still important. Who wants a rubbed down or heavily marked coin sat in their otherwise very tidy coin album? Well not me. So what is Circulated, Uncirculated, Brilliant Uncirculated (BU).

Circulated is a coin produced by The Royal Mint to enter general circulation and be used as change. The table at the bottom of the page shows number of each coin that entered circulation - so it's 1 of those! Circulated coins will often have marks where they have knocked together with other coins, over time colour can change, shine diminish and the design may have rubbed down, making it less clear. This is all dependent on the age of the coin and how hard it has worked!

The term Uncirculated is a tricky one, many people use this to describe a coin produced by The Royal Mint to enter general circulation and be used as change. Which they believe they have taken out of circulation near to the date it entered circulation. So Uncirculated is likely just a clean example of a circulated coin.

Brilliant Uncirculated (BU) means the coin has been produced by The Royal Mint for collectors and is not intended to enter general circulation and is not included in circulation figures. It will be in as new condition with crisp detail as it has been struck twice instead of just once.

Brilliant Uncirculated, Uncirculated, Circulated

Brilliant Uncirculated, Uncirculated, Circulated
Brilliant Uncirculated, Uncirculated, Circulated

What coins are collectable right now

There seems to be a large amount of interest in the Beatrix Potter 50p coins right now, with appealing designs and just 5 in the set, I can understand why. There is also a nice collector folder available from The Royal Mint that would make a great gift for kids. Within my 3000 "Bank Raid" 50p coins I managed to get 2 full sets with Squirrel Nutkin only appearing twice in the 3000 coins, in contrast with Mrs Tiggy-Winkle showing up 44 times.

150th Anniversary of Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter 50p coin set
Beatrix Potter 50p coin set

Coins in Circulation (February 2017)

Coin Design
Face Value
Year(s) Minted
Circulation
Change Checking Chance
Bank Raid Count
Estimated Value
2009 Kew Gardens
£0.50
2009
210000
1 in 12096
0
£72.00
Capital cities badges Edinburgh
£1.00
2011
935000
1 in 2915
0
£10.52
2002 XVII Commonwealth Games (Ireland)
£2.00
2002
485500
1 in 1975
0
£28.00
2002 XVII Commonwealth Games (Wales)
£2.00
2002
588500
1 in 1630
0
£11.99
Olympic Football
£0.50
2011
1125500
1 in 1517
1
£6.15
Olympic Wrestling
£0.50
2011
1129500
1 in 1512
1
£3.70
Capital cities badges Cardiff
£1.00
2011
1615000
1 in 1510
0
£6.50
2002 XVII Commonwealth Games (England)
£2.00
2002
650500
1 in 1474
0
£10.50
Olympic Judo
£0.50
2011
1161500
1 in 1470
2
£5.00
Olympic Triathlon
£0.50
2011
1163500
1 in 1468
0
£6.10
2008 London Olympic Games of 1908
£2.00
2008
910000
1 in 1400
0
£4.85
2008 Olympic Handover Ceremony
£2.00
2008
918000
1 in 1388
0
£5.49
2002 XVII Commonwealth Games (Scotland)
£2.00
2002
771750
1 in 1243
0
£9.30
Olympic Tennis
£0.50
2011
1454000
1 in 1175
1
£1.70
Olympic Goalball
£0.50
2011
1615500
1 in 1057
0
£1.50
Olympic Shooting
£0.50
2011
1656500
1 in 1031
3
£1.90
Olympic Taekwondo
£0.50
2011
1664000
1 in 1026
2
£1.50
Olympic Handball
£0.50
2011
1676500
1 in 1019
1
£1.40
2011 Mary Rose
£2.00
2011
1040000
1 in 1019
0
£5.00
Capital cities badges London
£1.00
2010
2635000
1 in 1017
0
£3.09
Olympic Modern Pentathlon
£0.50
2011
1689500
1 in 1011
0
£1.21
2012 Handover to Rio
£2.00
2012
845000
1 in 1003
0
£5.50
Olympic Rowing
£0.50
2011
1717300
1 in 995
2
£1.50
Olympic Gymnastics
£0.50
2011
1720813
1 in 993
0
£1.51
Olympic Table Tennis
£0.50
2011
1737500
1 in 983
1
£1.20
Olympic Basketball
£0.50
2011
1748000
1 in 977
2
£1.10
Olympic Sailing
£0.50
2011
1749500
1 in 976
0
£1.50
Olympic Wheelchair Rugby
£0.50
2011
1765500
1 in 967
1
£1.21
Olympic Hockey
£0.50
2011
1773500
1 in 963
2
£1.53
Olympic Weightlifting
£0.50
2011
1879500
1 in 909
3
£1.10
Olympic Cycling
£0.50
2011
2090500
1 in 817
2
£1.00
Olympic Fencing
£0.50
2011
2115500
1 in 807
2
£1.00
Olympic Badminton
£0.50
2011
2133500
1 in 801
1
£1.01
Olympic Volleyball
£0.50
2011
2133500
1 in 801
0
£1.00
Olympic Equestrian
£0.50
2011
2142500
1 in 797
3
£1.20
Olympic Boxing
£0.50
2011
2148500
1 in 795
3
£1.00
Olympic Boccia
£0.50
2011
2166000
1 in 789
1
£0.99
Olympic Canoeing
£0.50
2011
2166500
1 in 788
1
£1.00
Olympic Aquatics
£0.50
2011
2179000
1 in 784
5
£1.97
Olympic Athletics
£0.50
2009, 2011
2224000
1 in 768
5
£1.65
2011 King James Bible
£2.00
2011
975000
1 in 714
2
£4.99
2015 First World War Centenary Royal Navy
£2.00
2015
650000
1 in 712
2
£4.20
2003 Womens Social and Political Union
£0.50
2003
3124030
1 in 691
7
£3.00
2011 WWF
£0.50
2011
3400000
1 in 688
7
£2.00
Shield of the Royal Arms
£1.00
1988
7118825
1 in 670
1
£3.50
2013 London Underground - Roundel
£2.00
2013
1560000
1 in 528
2
£3.70
1998 NHS
£0.50
1998
5001000
1 in 515
9
£1.20
Olympic Archery
£0.50
2011
3345500
1 in 511
4
£0.99
1998 European Union
£0.50
1998
5043000
1 in 511
9
£1.25
2005 Gunpowder Plot
£2.00
2005
5140500
1 in 460
3
£2.95
Capital cities badges Belfast
£1.00
2010
6205000
1 in 432
1
£2.00
2013 London Underground - Train
£2.00
2013
1690000
1 in 417
2
£3.51
Floral emblem of England
£1.00
2013
5270000
1 in 396
2
£1.95
Floral emblem of Wales
£1.00
2013
5270000
1 in 396
2
£1.75
Floral emblem of Scotland
£1.00
2014
5185000
1 in 362
0
£1.99
Floral emblem of Northern Ireland
£1.00
2014
5780000
1 in 325
3
£1.89
2013 Benjamin Britten
£0.50
2013
5300000
1 in 307
13
£0.99
Britannia
£2.00
2015 - 2016
1300000
1 in 295
5
£6.00
2009 Robert Burns
£2.00
2009
3253000
1 in 283
5
£2.99
2004 Steam Locomotive
£2.00
2004
5004500
1 in 281
4
£2.99
2006 Isambard Kingdom Brunel Paddington Station
£2.00
2006
7452250
1 in 266
5
£2.50
2015 Magna Carta
£2.00
2015
1495000
1 in 261
7
£3.71
2010 Florence Nightingale
£2.00
2010
6175000
1 in 250
4
£2.60
1999 Rugby World Cup
£2.00
1999
4933000
1 in 242
5
£3.00
2003 Discovery of DNA
£2.00
2003
4299000
1 in 207
6
£3.22
2010 Girlguiding
£0.50
2010
7410090
1 in 197
23
£1.00
2014 Commonwealth Games
£0.50
2014
6500000
1 in 173
20
£0.99
2013 Anniversary of the Guinea
£2.00
2013
2990000
1 in 170
8
£2.75
2000 Public Libraries
£0.50
2000
11263000
1 in 165
29
£0.99
2001 Wireless Transmission
£2.00
2001
4558000
1 in 164
8
£2.69
2004 Roger Bannister
£0.50
2004
9032500
1 in 147
32
£0.99
2007 Scouting
£0.50
2007
7710750
1 in 143
32
£0.99
2009 Charles Darwin
£2.00
2009
3903000
1 in 137
10
£2.95
2014 Trinity House
£2.00
2014
3705000
1 in 133
8
£2.75
2006 Soldier
£0.50
2006
10000500
1 in 131
36
£0.99
2013 Christopher Ironside
£0.50
2013
7000000
1 in 128
32
£0.99
2015 Battle of Britain
£0.50
2015
5900000
1 in 125
33
£1.19
2006 Isambard Kingdom Brunel Engineer
£2.00
2006
7928250
1 in 101
12
£2.69
2007 Act of Union
£2.00
2007
7545000
1 in 97
14
£3.00
2006 Victoria Cross
£0.50
2006
12087000
1 in 97
50
£0.99
2007 Abolition of the Slave Trade
£2.00
2007
8445000
1 in 96
14
£3.00
2012 Charles Dickens
£2.00
2012
8190000
1 in 81
14
£2.95
Lion Rampant
£1.00
1994, 1999
29752525
1 in 80
6
 
2014 First World War Centenary
£2.00
2014
5720000
1 in 77
20
£3.00
Gateshead Millennium Bridge
£1.00
2007
26180160
1 in 76
5
 
2005 In Victory Magnanimity in Peace Goodwill
£2.00
2005
10191000
1 in 60
21
£3.99
Forth Railway Bridge
£1.00
2004
39162000
1 in 56
7
 
Flax Plant and royal diadem
£1.00
1986, 1991
48853076
1 in 53
9
 
Egyptian Arch Railway Bridge
£1.00
2006
38938000
1 in 53
7
 
2005 Samuel Johnsons Dictionary
£0.50
2005
17649000
1 in 50
85
£1.00
Oak Tree and royal diadem
£1.00
1987, 1992
75618989
1 in 45
14
 
Menai Bridge
£1.00
2005
99429500
1 in 21
19
 
Three Lions passant guardant
£1.00
1997, 2002
134935450
1 in 18
26
 
A Celtic Cross with a Pimpernel Flower
£1.00
1996, 2001
153854065
1 in 17
29
 
Dragon passant
£1.00
1995, 2000
144000001
1 in 15
27
 
Thistle and royal diadem
£1.00
1984, 1989
216837002
1 in 13
41
 
Leek and royal diadem
£1.00
1985, 1990
325700051
1 in 8
62
 
Shield of the Royal Arms
£0.50
2008 - 2015
134450030
1 in 5
738
 
Royal Arms
£1.00
1983, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008
623304510
1 in 4
118
 
Shield of the Royal Arms
£1.00
2008 - 2015
374139270
1 in 4
70
 
History of Technological Achievement
£2.00
1997 - 2015
416121838
Very Common
1056
£1.99
Britannia - revised inscription
£0.50
1982 - 2008
869433107
Very Common
3645
 
Beatrix Potter Squirrel Nutkin
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
2
£1.99
Beatrix Potter Tiggy-Winkle
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
44
£1.44
2016 Shakespeare Tragedies
£2.00
2016
Unknown
 
3
£3.95
2016 Great Fire of London
£2.00
2016
Unknown
 
0
£8.60
Beatrix Potter Jemima Puddle-Duck
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
12
£2.20
2016 First World War Centenary Army
£2.00
2016
Unknown
 
10
£4.00
2016 Shakespeare Histories
£2.00
2016
Unknown
 
0
£3.95
2016 Shakespeare Comedies
£2.00
2016
Unknown
 
0
£6.50
Team GB
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
70
£0.99
Battle of Hastings
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
7
£0.99
Beatrix Potter Anniversary
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
7
£1.66
Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit
£0.50
2016
Unknown
 
9
£2.20
Royal Arms
£1.00
2015
Unknown
 
51
 
Coin circulation figures courtesy of The Royal Mint, Change Checking Chance and valuations courtesy of rare2poundcoins.co.uk | rare1poundcoins.co.uk | rare50pencecoins.co.uk

Completing your collection

If you only need a few coins to complete your collection, where do you go?

See results

Many thanks for reading this article, I hope you found it interesting and useful.

Lottie

© 2017 James Daulton

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