Keeping an eye out for the Kew Gardens 50p

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.

kew gardens 50p

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 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.

 
With all the attention and publicity hundreds of Kew Gardens 50p coins started to appear on popular auction sites such as eBay.

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.

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  • Lee

    So why is the London Olympic hand over £2 coin not as rare seeing as Royal Mint only list 67,000 made ?

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      Hi Lee. The Royal Mint website currently shows the mintage figures of the Handover to Rio £2 coin as 65,000. This is because the mintage figures available on the website only go up to 31st December 2012. A look at more recent mintage figures has shown that several hundred thousand more were minted after the previous results. These figures will not be updated on the website until updated figures for all coins are available, which is likely to be in June. Many thanks, Daniel.

      • thedanfam@hotmail.com

        Hi Daniel,
        I’m always interested to see the Royal Mint updates, but since that will not be ’til June 2014, can you please confirm whether in the meantime the current figures for all denominations are accessible and from where?
        Thanks, Peter D

      • Richard

        Hi Daniel – were the subsequent several hundred thousand dated 2012 or 2013 (etc)?

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  • Trish

    I am so gutted about the kew garden 50p it is the only one I need for the collecting packs apart from the new ones, somehow I don’t think I will get any now unless I pay over the odds for it which I am not prepared to do .

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      Hi Trish. There were 210,000 released into circulation, and a look at online auction sites and our social media shows only hundreds have been found, shared or sold since the recent news of its rarity. There are still plenty out there and I’d advise continuing your hunt for them. Many thanks.

  • Dan

    it’s funny because i have 5 of these :)

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      5! The most we’ve seen on social media is 6… you could be on to a record breaker. Share a photo of your collection with us on our Facebook page or on Twitter using #strikingstories.

  • The Mad Numismatist

    I saw the £310 one on ebay, the buyers feedback score of over 100 none of which was positive!
    My guess it was a wind up!
    A fool and their money are easily parted. mine was £5 with postage… And I thought that was steep for a circulating 50p

  • David Jordan

    I have 4 rare Kew Gardens fifty pence coins

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      Hi David. We’d love to see a photo of your collection, share it with us on our Facebook page or on Twitter using #strikingstories.

      • David Jordan

        Sorry I can’t take pictures at this time. I also have the standard silver proof, Piedfort silver proof and 2 deluxe 2009 annual sets. I realise the circulated coins are the rarest but the silver versions and proof sets are also fetching very high prices. will let you have photo’s as soon as my camera is repaired

  • Chris H

    I have a Kew Gardens in its proof form (along with every other proof 50p released) are you saying it’s more valuable in its circulated form than in its lesser produced and more stunning proof form?

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      Hi Chris. We do not comment on a coins value in the secondary market. As far as The Royal Mint is concerned the circulating 50p is worth 50p, and an uncirculated coin is worth more. As we’ve said in the article, there are many ‘rarer’ uncirculated coins including its own uncirculated version. When we talk about the Kew Gardens 50p being rare, we are talking about it in a circulated form against other currently circulatuing coins, we do not have the data to hand for what the ‘rarest’ uncirculated coin design is. Hope that clears it up, Dan.

  • sue

    I have £300 of 50p’s saved…not one Kew Garden coin….figures

  • Steve K

    Does anyone know why they deliberately created a shortage by circulating so few Kew coins?

    • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

      Hi Steve. There was no particular reason, it was down to circumstance, the amount produced for circulation is dependent on demand from banks and cash centres.

  • http://blog.royalmint.com/ Daniel Oliver

    Hi Sue, keep going, there are 210,000 out there!

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  • Paul a

    What do I do if I find one please

  • Martin

    Rare to a serious coin collector would be less than 1,000 struck. For example the 1934 crown would be considered rare as just 932 were struck. The 2009 ‘Kew Gardens’ 50p is not rare by collectors’ standards. However, it IS rare by modern minting standards as many coins are struck in their millions I.e. 1965 ‘Churchill’ crown of which 19,640,000 were struck. So 210,000 is small compared to these larger outputs.