The Royal Mint is responsible for creating and circulating currency in the UK.
To mark monumental events in British history, such as the London 2012 Olympics or Commonwealth Games, the Royal Mint often creates a special edition 50 pence coin which is released and found in everyday circulation. However, sometimes errors occur in the minting process, resulting in mule or error coins. This occurs when there is a mix-up in the base, or the wrong dates minted onto the coin.
These coins are rare, becoming a collectors item, and their value skyrockets. The coins can potentially fetch thousands of pounds - and they may be sitting in your change. The price of some of the coins also increases due to current events and circumstances. For example, the price of some of the coins has increased in 2022 due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
Read below to see the most rare and valuable coins from 2008 onwards. Of course, with any coin, it’s important to check the coins authenticity before buying from an online seller.
1. 2008 undated 20p coin
These ‘mule’ coins are rare, and have a mintage of less than 250,000 out of the 136 million put into circulation. Ordinarily, they are valued at £50, but since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September these rare coins are now selling for anywhere between £80 and £2,500 on eBay. These undated 20p coins are the product of a mistake where they were incorrectly minted, leaving them without a date. Photo: PA Media
2. 2009 Kew Gardens 50p
Released in 2009, these rare coins were minted to commemorate the 250th birthday of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Only 210,000 of these coins have been minted. These extremely rare coins are a part of the 50p mintage figures released by the Royal Mint. Although valued at £150.89 to £161.50, coins are being sold for up to £650 on eBay since the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Be wary of the date, however, as there is a 2019 version of this coin too. Photo: PA Media
3. 2012 London Olympics error coin
Valued at £1,500, this error coin is notable for the lines across the swimmers face. In the original design, their face is distinct. Originally, these 50p coins were minted to commemorate the London 2012 Olympics, however, as no one is sure just how many error coins there are, this can fetch a high price. On eBay, an error 50p coin is being sold for slightly more at £1700. Even copies of the coin are being sold for £7.99. Photo: Change Checker
4. 2012 London Olympics error coin
These coins are products of an error, after being printed on a blank silver base for 10p coin, rather than the traditional copper base. In 2020, one of these extremely rare coins sold for £485 however, in 2016, a silver 2 pence coin sold for £1,350. These mules are extremely rare and are usually spotted by Mint workers before being distributed into circulation. Photo: Change Checker