Written by Rafa Sánchez
Here you can find a list of the most valuable and rare British coins that would add value to any coin collection. They all stand out for their collectability and, as you may have gathered, for offering an excellent investment opportunity for coin collectors.
In this article, you will find our list of the rarest UK coins – from coins that we could find in our daily life, to proofs that were never adopted.
There are a total of 7 unusual pieces that in many cases are – or have been – part of the history of the United Kingdom.
- 1 List of British coins and 2020 values
- 2 #1 – 1933 George V Penny – Bronze
- 3 #2 – 1917 Sovereign George V – Gold
- 4 #3 – 1937 Brass Threepence Edward VIII – Brass and Nickel
- 5 #4 – 1996 two pounds – Football European Championships (flat surface) – Gold
- 6 #5 – 1983 Tuppence error – “New Pence” – Bronze
- 7 #6 – 1973 50 pence European Economic Community – Silver Proof Piedfort FDC
- 8 #7 – 1994 Bank of England 300th Anniversary two pounds – Gold
List of British coins and 2020 values
Disclaimer: For ease of reading, although not geographically correct, we will consider English coins as synonymous with UK and British coins.
#1 – 1933 George V Penny – Bronze
This is a British penny commemorating George V in 1933. Coined in bronze with a weight of 9.4 grams and a diameter of 31 mm, this rare coin shows the bust of the King on the front with the legend GEORGIVS V DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REX FID:DEF:IND:IMP and Britain sitting on the reverse with the value ONE PENNY and the date of 1933 on the back.
The coin is extremely rare and valuable and it is estimated that only 7 specimens were minted, although only 4 specimens are known. Of these four specimens, only two are located, one in the Royal Mint Museum and one in the Fred Baldwin collection.
In 2016 the prestigious Baldwin auction house auctioned one of these four known specimens, and its auction price reached 78,852 USD.
#2 – 1917 Sovereign George V – Gold
Coined by the Royal Mint after World War I (1914-1918) and with a face value of one pound, the weight of this British coin is 7.98 grams, diameter 22 mm and purity 0.9167. The obverse shows King George V on the left with the legend GEORGIVS V D.G.BRITT:OMN:REX F.D.IND:IMP: and on the reverse, St. George and the Dragon and the date 1917.
Before the First World War, Great Britain, and more specifically London, was the world’s financial centre, supported by the country’s gold reserves. After the end of the First World War, the belligerent countries maintained strong debts with the United States, which went from having 26.5% of the world’s gold reserves in 1914 to 40% in 1918.
In 1917, only 1,014,999 pieces were minted, the rarest and most valuable date, not only because of its low mintage but also because these pieces, along with those minted in previous years, formed part of the payment of the debt to the United States after World War I. A large number of pieces were sent to Fort Knox, then in 1934 were cast and converted into ingots. This is why so few of them have survived to the present day.
Although the maximum graduation encapsulated by NGC corresponds to an MS 65 and is valued at 65,000 USD, in recent years this type and year has been auctioned several times with the graduations and prices shown below:
|04/29/2019||Heritage||MS 65||50.400 USD|
|10/21/2018||Chaponniere & Firmenich||MS 62||37.368 USD|
|10/19/2018||Numisor||MS 63||22.530 USD|
|09/06/2018||Heritage||MS 63||28.800 USD|
|01/14/2018||Baldwin´s of St. James´s||MS 64||34.000 USD|
|10/21/2016||Numisor||MS 62||17.548 USD|
#3 – 1937 Brass Threepence Edward VIII – Brass and Nickel
The third place in our list of British coinage is held by the Edwardian 3p. This is a proof not adopted for circulation minted in brass and nickel (79% copper, 20% zinc and 1% nickel) of King Edward VIII’s threepence in 1937, characteristic of its 12 sides. Its weight ranges from 5.19 to 6.62 grams and its diameter from 21 mm to 22 mm from the corners.
On the obverse side there is a bust of the monarch on the left with the legend EDWARDVS VIII D:G:BR:OMN:REX F:D:IND:IMP and on the reverse side the money plant with three flowers in the centre and legend 19 – THREE – 37 – PENCE.
Various sources estimate the quantities minted at 10 – 12 units. Edward VIII abdicated on December 10, 1936, and this edition was finally discarded by his successor (his brother Albert who chose the name of George VI) and opted for the more common type, the one with the date below.
These are extremely rare and valuable pieces, in fact the whereabouts of some of them are unknown. To date, two specimens have been auctioned, both at Baldwin’s in 2006 and 2007, the best of the two being valued at between $29,000 and $35,000.
#4 – 1996 two pounds – Football European Championships (flat surface) – Gold
This is the rarest two-pound coin minted for the 1996 European Championship, in which 16 teams participated (represented by the 16 dots on the back within a football design with the date 19//96 in the centre). On the obverse side, there is a bust of the queen accompanied on the right by the legend – ELIZABETH – II – DEI – GRATIA – REGINA – F – D – and the value in letters, TWO POUNDS.
This UK coin is made of 0.9167 gold, its weight is 15.976 grams and diameter is 28.4 mm. In the normal print run, its coinage has a concave side.
They have been auctioned with an FDC certificate that includes the number of the piece from a total coinage of just over 2,000 pieces. Their auctions are in the range of 400-500 GBP (522-652 USD) plus commissions. It can be found on direct sale on the internet for just over 1,000 GBP (1,305 USD).
However, there is a valuable variant that is highly appreciated by collectors which has a flat side instead of a concave one. This variant is extremely rare and valuable. It is not known for sure how many pieces were minted, but their value can reach 1,700 GBP (2,220 USD).
#5 – 1983 Tuppence error – “New Pence” – Bronze
From 1971 to 1982, two-penny coins were minted with the inscription “NEW PENCE” to avoid confusion due to the change to the new decimal system on February 15, 1971 (the “Decimal day“).
In 1982, the legend was replaced by “TWO PENCE” – as there was no longer any point in keeping the word “New” on a coin that had been minted for 11 years. However, in 1983 a small number of coins were mistakenly minted with the old inscription “NEW PENCE”.
The exact number of these errors is unknown but they were only made for the commemorative sets, so it is normal to see them in auctions in these sets and uncirculated quality. Although it cannot be ruled out that some of these valuable errors could appear in the change of our day-to-day lives, they would of course not have the same value as the coins in the uncirculated set.
The last 2 units of these sets containing the 2p 1983 “New pence” error that went up for auction was at London Coins Ltd in June of this year (2020) and were auctioned at between 1,000 and 1,100 GBP (1,300 – 1436 USD) each.
#6 – 1973 50 pence European Economic Community – Silver Proof Piedfort FDC
This was coined in cupronickel by the Royal Mint to commemorate the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Economic Community (EEC). It weighs 13.5 grams and has a diameter of 30 mm.
Its seven-sided design depicts on the front the young draped bust of Queen Elizabeth II with the diamond tiara “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland” and the inscription ELIZABETH II D – G- REG – F – D -, and on the back nine interlocking hands representing the nine countries that made up the EEC at that time – symbolizing friendship, support and mutual trust. The date 1973 and the value of 50 pence are displayed in the center. The piece can be found on the internet for less than 20 GBP.
The rare variant that we are interested in explaining is the so-called “silver piedfort“, although it does not have the double weight of the regular cupronickel issue. It was minted in a very small number to be presented to finance ministers and high officials of the EEC.
Its valuation today may exceed GBP 3,000 (USD 3,915).
#7 – 1994 Bank of England 300th Anniversary two pounds – Gold
To celebrate the 300th anniversary of the Bank of England in 1994, the Royal Mint decided to issue, among others, this two-pound gold coin.
With a diameter of 28.4 mm, weight of 15.98 g, grade of 0.9166, on the obverse appears the image of the queen with the legend ELIZABETH II DEI – GRA – REG – F – D, omitting the value that should appear below (two pounds). On the reverse side is the date the Bank of England was founded (1694) with the original seal under the initials of William and Mary crowned, on the right the date of minting (1994) and below the words “Bank of England”.
What really gives value to the piece shown is being one of the few hundreds of the 1,000 exclusive units that are believed to have been minted in error and which, after being put into circulation by the Royal Mint, were immediately claimed back from their distributors. However, many of these errors were not returned and kept.
This slight discrepancy is found on the front side because of a stamping error, there were units (out of 1000) in which the portrait of the queen is larger than usual, leaving no room for the value “TWO POUNDS”. The stamp used for the coin was that of the two sovereigns.
These pieces can be found on the internet numbered with a certificate for about 2,300 GBP (3,000 USD). Regarding the auctions, we can offer a summary of the pieces auctioned in the last year where you can see a range from 1,020 USD in Heritage Auctions in August 2019 to 4,044 USD in July of this year at The Coin Cabinet.
|07/26/2020||The Coin Cabinet||PF 69 Ultra Cameo||4.044 USD|
|06/06/2020||London Coins||1.957 USD|
|08/16/2019||Heritage||PR 68 Ultra Cameo||1.020 USD|
I have a degree in Business Administration and Management and numismatics studies at the University of Murcia (Spain).