Britannia has a long standing history with British coinage. Having first appeared on a 1672 Farthing during the reign of Charles II, she subsequently featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years. In 2008 she was surprisingly dropped from the 50 pence piece despite a Daily Mail campaign to save her.
After a short absence, in February 2015 it was announced that Britannia would be making a triumphant return to British circulating coins. Antony Dufort’s modern interpretation of Britannia was to feature on Britain’s highest denomination coin, the £2, replacing the “technology” design which had featured on the coin since 1997.
It was a very popular move from The Royal Mint, even the then Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is great to see Britannia’s welcome return to our currency. Britannia is an enduring symbol of our national identity, ideal to help reinforce the sense of shared purpose and history for Britons.”
However, it wasn’t until 2016 when The Mint released the mintage figures for the 2015 coins that the real surprise was unveiled.
Only 650,000 of the 2015 date Britannia £2 coins had been stuck for circulation, making it one of the most scarce UK £2 coins ever! So scarce in fact that there were fewer of this coin than the England and the Scotland coins from the famous 2002 Commonwealth Games series.
The astonishing fact that Britannia had appeared on a circulating British coin in one way or another in an unbroken cycle between 1672 and 2008 was enough to ensure this £2 would be a favourite with collectors. The announcement of such a low mintage figure then created somewhat of a collecting frenzy!
The 2015 Britannia coin remains highly sought after by collectors.
The UK 2015 Britannia £2 Coin
That places it third equal in the all-time low mintage charts!
Following the launch of the Change Checker “Scarcity Index” early last year, the final 2017 Quarter 4 Index has now been published.
50p Scarcity Index
It’s of little surprise that Kew Gardens maintains its top spot as the UK’s most sought after circulation coin with a perfect score of 100.
The mintage figures for the 2017 50p coins were released just before Christmas and have had an effect on the Scarcity Index scores. Interestingly, the Sir Isaac Newton 50p only scores a 3/100 which is lower than we anticipated. This is mainly due to the large number of Change Checkers who list having the coin in their collection. However, we are expecting this score to increase during the next quarter due to the low mintage figure, of just 1.8 million, driving demand.
Jemima Puddle-Duck remains the most scarce Beatrix Potter 50p, with Tom Kitten and Benjamin also scoring quite highly with a score of 13 and 7 respectively. Tom Kitten and Benjamin Bunny were only released into circulation in December so requests for swaps are high. Mintage figures for these coins are also relatively high so as more people find these coins in their change it is possible these scores will decrease slightly.
Interestingly, the mintage figure for the Jeremy Fisher 50p coin has been released, however the coin is not yet in circulation.
£2 Scarcity Index
There’s not a lot of movement in our Quarter 4 £2 “Scarcity Index” update.
The Commonwealth Games Wales £2 coin takes top spot from the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland. This is down to the very large number of swap requests for this coin in the last quarter. At 99/100 the Northern Ireland coin is still very scarce (as are the other two coins in the Commonwealth Games series) and it’s very possible it will retake the number 1 spot next quarter.
We are still waiting for the Jane Austen and WWI Aviation £2 coins to be released into circulation, hence why they do not feature on our Index. We await the release of these and their mintage figures with great interest, could they be low like the Sir Isaac Newton 50p? It is possible.
How the Scarcity Index works
Generally collectors have had to rely upon mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins. But they only tell part of the story. Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.
Additionally, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – the recent poignant First World War £2 Coin series being an example. Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.
That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information.
- How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin.
- The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand.
Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly allowing Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.
How much are my coins worth?
The Scarcity Index does not necessarily equate to value but it is certainly an effective indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 160 times face value on eBay.
What about £1 Coins?
The mintage figures for the 2017 UK base metal 50p coins have been released but that’ll have to wait a minute… there’s some even more exciting news!
The Royal Mint have announced that there will be a 2018 Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin but the ONLY place you’ll be able to get your hands on one of these is The Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant, Wales! Interestingly, these 2018 dated coins will not be released into circulation.
Anybody visiting The Mint will get to strike a 2018 Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin but this will only be for a short period of time and subject to availability.
We’re predicting that due to the short time frame and visitor numbers, there could well be substantially less than 210,000 of these coins struck, meaning the 2018 Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin could well have a lower mintage figure than even the Kew Gardens 50p!
2017 UK Base Metal Mintage Figures
Early on Christmas Eve morning The Royal Mint released the mintage figures for the 2017 UK base metal commemorative coins. What immediately caught our eye was the surprisingly low number of Sir Isaac Newton 50p coins that had been struck.
At just 1.8 million the Sir Isaac Newton 50p coin has a lower mintage than the 2016 Jemima Puddle-Duck coin. Making it the SECOND LOWEST UK circulation 50p coin behind Kew Gardens (excluding the Olympic 50p range).
Granted it is someway behind Kew Gardens, which has a mintage figure of just 210,000, but it is the only other UK commemorative circulation 50p coin with a mintage under 2 million.
Good news for Beatrix Potter Fans
Unlike the 2016 Beatrix Potter 50p coins, the good news is that all the 2017 coins have a consistent mintage figure. In 2016 the Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p had a substantially lower mintage figure than the other coins from the series making it very hard for Change Checkers to complete their sets.
All 4 of the 2017 Beatrix Potter coins have a mintage of at least 9.3 million meaning there shouldn’t be any problems completing your 2017 sets.
It’s going to be interesting to see how these new mintage figures affect our Change Checker Scarcity Index update, due at the end of January.
What about the 2017 £2 coins?
As yet, we are still waiting for the mintage figures for the 2017 Jane Austen and 2017 First World War Aviation £2 coins to be released. We’ll be sure to update you as soon as anything is announced.
Own the 2017 UK Isaac Newton CERTIFIED BU 50p
Designed by Aaron West, the reverse of this striking coin is based on elements of Proposition 11, in Book One of Newton’s Principia Mathematica. Whilst the obverse features the Jody Clark portrait of Her Majesty the Queen.
This specially struck 50p coin comes securely encapsulated and as a Change Checker CERTIFIED BRILLIANT UNCIRCULATED issue, you’ll know your coin will be protected forever and guaranteed by its Certified Hologram.