Coin collecting: A hobby to take on holiday

We’re now into the peak of summer and many of us have already returned from our summer holidays with slightly lighter pockets than when we left. That is, I’d imagine, the truth for most people, apart from perhaps us coin collectors. I recently returned from France with a new collection of Euro coins. Before I left, my coin collection only consisted of UK coins, so I set off on my holiday excited to expand my collection.

euro coin collecting

Like the pound, the Euro is a decimal currency with the same structure to its denominations – €2, €1, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, 1c. Euro coins differ to our own mostly in colour, but there are a few other obvious differences – all Euro coins are round and the €1 is also bi-metallic.

The Euro coins have a common or ‘European’ side and a national side. The national side indicates the issuing country and is designed by that country. Conversely, the common side features on all Euro coins, regardless of the issuing country, and include images of the European Union or Europe, symbolising the unity of the EU. The common side designs were created by Mr. Luc Luycx of the Royal Belgian Mint.

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By my count there are currently 248 different national sides. On top of that, there are a further 184 commemorative €2 designs. That takes a Euro circulating coin collection to 432 coins – an investment of €488.28. Given that 23 countries use the Euro, we can count ourselves lucky here in the UK to have over 100 different circulating coin designs to collect!

Up until 2012, each country was entitled to produce one €2 commemorative coin per year, but since July 2012, Euro countries may now issue two per year. They are only allowed to issue a third if it is issued jointly with another Euro country and if it commemorates events of Europe-wide importance. So far, there are three commemorative coins that Euro countries have issued jointly: the first, in March 2007, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the second, in January 2009, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Economic and Monetary Union, and the third, in January 2012, to commemorate ten years of Euro banknotes and coins.

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So I suppose, like me, you’re wondering: with so many Euro coin designs to find, how easy is it to find them all? It would appear that it’s not that easy at all! Each country issues its own designs, and although they do ‘migrate’ between Euro countries, for example finding an Irish Euro in Germany may prove difficult. Euro coins can be used in any Euro country, but with 23 countries using them, you’re relying on holidaymakers to transport the designs across the Eurozone – so a fair bit of travelling may be required to collect them all.

If you’re not going on holiday this summer, there are plenty of coins to collect here in the UK. There are over 100 different designs on UK circulating coins that you can find in your change right now! Take a look at our website for more information.

And if you have just come back from your holiday, before you shove all those spare foreign coins into a jar, take a little look and see what little treasures you might have brought home with you!

We’d love to know more about your collections! What foreign coins are in your collection? What recent additions have you made? How are you getting on with your Coin Hunt? Share your collections with us on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts using #CoinHunt or #StrikingStories.

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  • An interesting post, thank you.

    By my count, there are 23 countries that have issued euro coins (although a few others use euros without issuing their own coins), Lithuania being the most recent this year.

    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘208 national sides’. It sounds like you have multiplied 26 by 8, but (a) there are only 23 issuing countries, and (b) there have been changes to national sides when there have been changes to heads of state in Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Vatican. There have been other minor changes too..

    If you count the different countries’ issues of common €2 coins as separate, there have been just under 200 €2 coins issued. There is also a fourth common €2 being issued this year, to celebrate 30 years of the 12-star EU flag (perhaps not the most significant event, but still). .

    I have a website of pictures of the coins issued to date if you are interested to know more:

    • Thank you for your message Angus. I’ve checked the figures and have taken a look at the ECB’s website – Updated information from the website now shows that there are in fact 248 national sides. Most countries have 8 (1 per each denomination) but some countries do have more such as Belgium and Vatican City (4 per denomination). I’ve also updated the figures for the commemorative €2 coins too in line with information from that website. Again thank you for your message – hope you enjoyed the blog?

      • Yes indeed, thanks for the response and updates.
        Readers might be interested to know that some of the euro coins are very rare and are unlikely to be found in circulation – the 2007 commemorative €2 from Monaco featuring Grace Kelly sells for about €1600!

  • Malcolm Barres-Baker

    There are also, at least in France, legal tender €100 gold coins, and €50 and €10 euro silver coins, that can be purchased from the mint at face value. These are like the UK £20, and now £100 silver coins, except that the French silver coins are larger but only contain a smallish proportion of silver. The gold coin is a proper gold coin, but it is fairly small, making it also a token coinage. They are, I believe, only legal tender in France, not elsewhere in the Eurozone, but I am not sure of this. I haven’t tried it yet, but the thought of paying for a meal in gold for the first time since 1915 is very appealing!

    • That’s right, any coins issued in eurozone countries not of the eight main denominations 1c, 2c, 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, €1 or €2 are only legal tender in that country – and even then I would guess you may have some trouble spending them!