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Updated 01:50 09/03/21

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Special coins


Many things can make a coin special. They will also be special to different people, for different reasons.

A coin could be special to a particular individual because of its date or origin having particular significance to an individual. It could be dated to coincide with the year of a birthday, anniversary or other significant event in their life.

The coin could come also come from the country of their birth, or of their ancestors. A special coin could have been passed down through a family for generations; something like a sixpence found in a Christmas pudding, or given to a bride on her wedding day. These coins might have no special value to anyone other than the coin holder or their relations.
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Touch pieces

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If a coin has been touched by someone famous, then the circle of interest gets bigger and the coin more special. In popular mythology, some coins that have been held by monarchs or historic figures are thought to receive special powers. These special coins are commonly called 'touch pieces', and are thought to heal the sick, who simply have to touch them to be cured.

Maundy Money is of a similar vein. These special coins are part of a yearly ritual involving the Royal family, and are highly sought after.
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Commemorative coins

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Mints also strike special commemorative coins to celebrate events of national significance. These can mark national sporting events, key birthdays of members of the royal family, and historical moments in British history. These coins may have special meanings to those closely associated with or interested in the particular event.

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The 2012 Olympics 50p coin.

2012 London Olympics 50p coin.

The Royal Mint, for instance, struck a series of commemorative 50 pence coins for the 2012 London Olympics. Each one of these 50p coins depicted a particular Olympic event.
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Collectable coins

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Other coins are special to those interested in coin collecting. These collectors are known as numismatists.

Numismatists are always searching for special examples of coins, and often have very specialised focuses. This raises another reason why some coins may be special: their rarity. Coins can be rare because of their age; the rigours of time can wear a coin down, and coins have occasionally been recalled in order to be melted down and re-struck.

This often happens with coins made from precious metals, which are melted down for their metal content. These coins were initially worth their denomination or face value alone, but because of their scarcity they have become far more valuable.

The gold Edward III Florin or ‘double Leopard’ is one such rare coin. Currently, only three copies of this coin known to exist. It dates back to 1344, and minting was discontinued after just a few months. Two are owned by British museums, and the third was sold for £680,000 in 2006. This beat the previous record for a British coin, which was for a 1937 Edward VIII gold proof sovereign. This sold for £516,000.
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Proofs and limited editions
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Some coins, not usually common currency, are deliberately made to be rare. These are proof and special edition coins struck with low issue numbers, specifically for investors and numismatic purposes. These pristine coins are immediately sold by the mints for more than their face value.

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2019 proof gold Sovereign.

A 2019 Gold Proof Boxed Sovereign.

Historically, proof coins were the first to be minted. They were carefully struck to test the quality of the dies before going into full scale production. Today, however, proofs are special coins minted to a higher standard than normal, and handled with great care thereafter. Some are sealed in capsules immediately after minting to further protect their perfect mint state.

Setting low issue limits in advance of production can benefit both mints and buyers. It gives the buyer an exclusive opportunity, and guarantees the mint advanced sales at premium prices. An issue limit is the maximum number of coins that can be struck, and is set before minting has started. The final number of coins struck – the mintage figure – could fall short of the issue limit. The mintage figure cannot, however, exceed the issue limit set by the mint.

In 2009 the Royal Mint struck a very low mintage of just 210,000 50p pieces for common circulation. These were released to celebrate Kew Gardens, and this low mintage of the Kew Gardens 50p makes it and extremely special coin. Today, they are trading at well over £100!

2009 Kew Gardens 50p.

The 2009 Kew Gardens coin had a low mintage of only 210,000, making them a very special 50p.

Another sought-after 50p is the Peter Rabbit coin. It was issued in 2016 to celebrate 150 years since the birth of Beatrix Potter. Some examples sold for over £800.
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Bullion coins
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Even investors, motivated predominantly by financial interests, are another group of coin buyers for whom coins can be special. They look for special bullion coins that have both investment value, but are also collectable – coins that are described as semi-numismatic. This could involve series like the Lunar, or Queen’s Beasts series; bullion coins that are made in limited numbers as part of collectable series.

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Gold bullion coins have special tax advantages over bullion bars of the same weight. They are popular with both investors and numismatics.

Coins that are now deemed as bullion but were once historical currency are also semi-numismatic, and the Sovereign fits perfectly into this category. Denominated with a value of £1, the British Sovereign was first minted in 1817. It is favoured as a safe haven investment and can act as a hedge in a diverse financial portfolio, but older historic Sovereigns also have additional numismatic and collectible value, making them a sound and attractive financial investment.

From common currency to rare bullion coins, the variety of special coins in the UK is vast and endless. With such a rich choice available there is sure to be a coin that will be special to you!