How much do we know about the coins in our pockets?

Everyone who works here at The Royal Mint, and all you coin fans out there, know that the coins of the United Kingdom are beautiful, intricate works of art, everlasting storytellers of the great events and figures of our history and culture.

But how wide does that knowledge go? How much do the general public really know about the coins in their pockets, the coins they use every day to buy a paper, pay for parking, or help them make decisions?

We were intrigued. So, we decided to ask.

We recently conducted a survey of some 2,000 adults in the UK, asking them questions such as how many different £2 coin designs there are in circulation, how many sides does a 50p coin have, and how many portraits of Queen Elizabeth II can currently be seen on the coins in everyday use.

The results were fascinating, and we will share some of them with you all in our blog next week. Needless to say, the results show we have some work to do in order to increase people’s knowledge of, and love for, the coins they use everyday.

To help people get to know their coins better, and to gain a greater appreciation of their beauty and diversity, we have recently launched three new collector albums, which are available now from our website

Following on from the hugely popular London 2012 50p collector albums, these new folders are the same size and format, but are designed to help people collect all the other circulating commemorative 50p, £1 and £2 coins that are out there in everyday use.

50p front

This 50p album has space for 16 50p coins, from Britannia to Benjamin Britten. One of the rarest and hardest to find is the Kew Gardens 50p coin from 2009, as only 210,000 went into circulation.

50p inside

At the other end of the scale, some 3.4 million of Matthew Dent’s WWF 50p coins have entered circulation since 2011!

The £1 coin celebrated its 30th birthday this year, and since its introduction in 1983 there have been 21 different designs that celebrate the symbols, nature and engineering achievements of the four constituent parts of the United Kingdom.

£1 front

Again, the different amounts of the coins that have gone out into public use means that some are more difficult to find than others. Nearly 100 million of 2005’s Menai Bridge design were produced….

£1 inside

…while just over 2.5 million of 2010’s ‘London’ coin made it out into the world.

Finally, the £2 album encourages people to hunt down all the different £2 designs that have been released up to and including the hugely popular 2013 London Underground coins, one of which (the logo design) was designed by the same people who created the iconic torch for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

£2 front

Each album also includes space for a special completer medallion for each collection, with more details to come on those very soon. We hope they will prove very popular, and that they might prompt a greater appreciation of and interest in the coins we use every day.

Do you have a favourite coin out there in circulation today?

We’ll share some more of the research results with you next week, but in the meantime, here are the answers to the questions we posted above.

Q. How many different £2 coin designs there are in circulation? A. 23

Q. How many sides does a 50p coin have? A. 7

Q. How many portraits of Queen Elizabeth II can currently be seen on the coins in everyday use. A. 3

Happy hunting!

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  • Kenneth Vilkin

    Nice Information Thanks for Giving Information.

  • Thanks for your comment, Kenneth – glad you enjoyed that! More to come, so stay with us!

  • beerdifferent

    looking forward to following this blog! Thank you!

    • joanne thomas

      Cheers! – we’re pleased to welcome you and look forward to your comments!

  • Menelik B

    I used to think that it benefitted the government if people collected coins and took them out of circulation, instead of spending them. But now the treasury is actually printing more money to boost the economy. So if lots of people collect (say) £2 coins, is this good for the economy or bad for the economy ?

    • jamesroyalmint

      Thanks for your thoughts on this, Menelik, but we can’t comment on
      what’s good or bad for the economy, that’s not our role. We are,
      however, the experts at making coins, as the Bank of England is at
      printing the notes. HM Treasury controls the issue of currency and the
      economy. Have you been collecting coins for some time or are you new to
      this interest?

  • Stuffed Bear

    Is there anyone out there that would like to trade coins from America for your coins?
    I have no idea what coins to order from the royal mint because I live in Arizona USA.
    I am looking for someone in the UK that is trustworthy enough to mail me some coins in exchange for me mailing you coins. I am not talking about large amounts of money just like pocket change, but coins in good shape like brand new ones from the bank.
    If interested contact me!

    • crystal pink

      I’ll send you a couple, no problem..

  • suzieq

    Very interesting – how many fake £1 coins are in circulation ??????

  • CAZ


  • Terrence Moch

    Can you help me i am in need of a 1817 /1818 or 1819 King George 111 Threepence but can not find can you tell me in any of these coins were ever minted

  • Ralph Caton

    Are the single metal £2 coins legal tender? I have a few including the commonwealth games ones – and one that was given by Anchor butter on a presentation card (I also have 5 x 20p coins given away by Sharps toffee – on a card!

    • HI Ralph, the quick answer is ‘yes, they are’ – but they were originally issued as commemorative coins only, so were never actually put into general circulation. It sounds like your Anchor butter & Sharps toffee coins would be perfectly legal tender – and tasty too! You seem to be a keen coin collector, what do you think of our new collector albums?