Following a recent look at updated mintage figures of circulating coins, we finally have the answer to the question: What is the rarest coin design in circulation today?
Last Thursday a press release was issued on The Royal Mint website that answered that very question. It revealed that the rarest coin design in current circulation is the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p design. What happened next saw the coin’s popularity exceed any expectations and catapulted this unlikely topic into the limelight.
Shortly after issuing the press release on Thursday it was picked up and covered by websites, broadcast media, national and local newspapers including: Nation Radio, BBC Radio 2, ITV, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent and moneywise.co.uk among others.
— The Guardian (@guardian) February 20, 2014
— Money Saving Expert (@MoneySavingExp) February 21, 2014
The hunt for the Kew Gardens 50p had begun, which saw many people emptying their pockets, checking the back of the sofa, and even turning their life savings into 50p coins in the hope of finding the Kew Gardens 50p design. Many people took to Social Media, in particular Twitter, to share the results of their search.
My life savings in 50p pieces. Not one Kew Gardens rare one to be found!! pic.twitter.com/ivtblRik0h
— Mr Grumpy Git (@MrGrumpyGit) February 21, 2014
— Jodie Charles (@JodieCharles92) February 21, 2014
With all the attention and publicity hundreds of Kew Gardens 50p coins started to appear on popular auction sites such as eBay.
— eBay (@eBay) February 21, 2014
So just how rare is the Kew Gardens 50p?
The 50p is the most designed denomination in UK circulating coins, with 29 London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic designs and 17 other commemorative designs to find. With only 210,000 ever released into circulation, the Kew Gardens 50p design is not only the rarest of 50p designs, but it has the lowest mintage of any design on any denomination in current circulation. This makes it the rarest coin design you’ll find in your pockets, and a hard one to come by, with only an estimated 1 in 300 people likely to find it. When you compare that to the average 5 million coins per design issued into circulation and the 22.7 million 50 pence pieces with the Royal Arms design in current circulation, you get a feel for how rare this design is on circulating coins.
It is important to note that whilst there were 210,000 Kew Gardens 50 pence pieces released into circulation, there were also 128,364 brilliant uncirculated Kew Gardens 50p coins produced, along with 106,332 UK definitive sets and 34,438 UK proof sets featuring an uncirculated version of the coin. The Kew Gardens design’s rarity in this case lies in its circulating form, as, with limited mintages set on most uncirculated coins, there are many rarer uncirculated coin designs.
The other contender for the ‘rarest coin design in current circulation’ title was the London 2012 Handover to Rio £2 coin. The Royal Mint website shows the mintage figure of this coin as 65,000. The mintage figures on the website only go up to 31st December 2012 and a look at more recent mintage figures has revealed that several hundred thousands more of this design were minted in the following year, making the Kew Gardens 50p the rarest coin in circulation.
So, in answer to the question, the Kew Gardens 50p is the rarest coin design in current circulation. Its value? Well its value is 50p, what the collector is willing to pay for it is another matter.