Below are listed our frequently asked questions, please take a look at these first, if you do not find the answer to your enquiry please contact us using the general enquiries form at the bottom of this page.
No, the Museum does not provide valuations.The Royal Mint does, however, offer this service for pre-decimal coins. For further information please visit the Royal Mint Collector Services .
Alternatively, you might like to approach a numismatic dealer. Contact details for reputable dealers may be found on the Members page of the British Numismatic Trade Association website .
From 1985 to 1997, United Kingdom circulating coins were struck bearing a royal portrait by Raphael Maklouf which includes a necklace. A new portrait by Ian Rank-Broadley, which does not include a necklace, was introduced for United Kingdom circulating coins from 1998 onwards.
There is a long-standing myth that the first bi-colour £2 coins – dated 1997 and thus bearing the Maklouf portrait – are rare and valuable. But given that more than 13 million of these coins were issued, this is certainly not the case.
All 2p coins dated between 1971 and 1981 bear the inscription NEW PENCE. From 1982 onwards the inscription was changed to TWO PENCE but a small number of 1983-dated 2p coins were struck in error bearing the old NEW PENCE inscription. It is therefore only the 1983-dated NEW PENCE coins which are of special interest to collectors.
The evidence seems to suggest that the error coins were issued as part of special souvenir sets and not into general circulation.
If you would like to submit a coin or medal for examination, in the first instance please send photographs and a description to us using the general enquiries form at the bottom of this page We suggest you read our FAQs for answers to general questions.
Please note: The Museum does not provide valuations for your coins or medals.
We will look at your request and if appropriate we will invite you to send your coin or medal to us for examination. There is a charge of £20 for the examination of decimal coins. For information on the authentication of pre-decimal coins please visit the Royal Mint Collector Services .
The Museum is able to offer an explanation for any apparent mis-strikes or error pieces that have been produced at the Royal Mint. If you would like to submit such a piece for examination, please send it to Dr Kevin Clancy, Director of the Museum, at the address given on the contact us page. There is a £20 charge for this service and the piece, which will not be damaged in any way, will be returned to you in due course with a report of our findings.
The lettering on the edge of £2 coins is added to the blank in a separate process, prior to striking in the coining press. When the blanks are fed into the coining press, they are not sorted. Consequently, something like half the coins will have the inscription upright when the royal portrait is facing upwards, while the other half will have the inscription upright when the reverse design is facing upwards. For the same reason, the starting point of the edge inscription varies from coin to coin.
As a result of the rising price of base metals, the composition of 1p and 2p coins was changed from bronze to copper-plated steel in 1992. Since then all 1p and 2p coins intended for circulation have been struck in copper-plated steel, with the exception of a quantity of 1998-dated 2p coins which were produced in the traditional bronze.
Likewise, the composition of 5p and 10p coins was changed from
cupro-nickel to nickel-plated steel in 2011.
Plated steel coins have the same weight and diameter as those issued in the traditional alloys but their steel core makes them magnetic.
Provided they are reproduced faithfully and shown in good taste, images of coins may be used in advertisements. Images must be clearly recognisable as coins – for example, the reverse of a 10p may be shown but not the lion rampant in isolation. Where the royal portrait or royal devices are shown, it is important to make sure there is no suggestion of royal endorsement.
Section 10 of the Coinage Act 1971 states that: 'No person shall, except under the authority of a licence granted by the Treasury, melt down or break up any metal coin which is for the time being current in the United Kingdom or which, having been current there, has at any time after 16th May 1969 ceased to be so.'
This provision has the effect of protecting not only all current coins but also the large majority of demonetised coins that you are likely to come across.
To seek a licence to break up or melt down coins protected by Section 10 – or indeed to discuss precisely what constitutes breaking up or melting down a coin – you would need to contact the Debt & Reserves Management Team at the Treasury.
We strongly disapprove of the placing of stickers on coins as it brings the dignity and integrity of the coinage into disrepute. Furthermore, stickers make the recognition of coins more difficult – especially for the blind and partially-sighted – and are likely to cause problems in vending machines.
It is our understanding, however, that the practice is not specifically prohibited in existing legislation.
Coins of Guernsey, Jersey, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man are not legal tender in the United Kingdom.
The territories in question form part of what might be termed a ‘sterling area’ throughout which British coins are legal tender. In these territories British coins circulate side-by-side with local coins of independent design. As a result of this inter-relationship, the local coins are struck with similar specifications to their British counterparts.
At the time of decimalisation the United Kingdom five-shilling crown was redenominated as a 25p coin and pieces struck prior to 1990 - all the way back to 1818 - continue to be legal tender for that amount. The face value of new issues of the coin from 1990 was increased to £5.
Crowns are issued to mark special occasions rather than for use in general circulation. They are legal tender – for £5 or 25p as described above – but contrary to popular belief this does not mean that banks and retailers automatically have to accept them. Indeed you will probably find that most banks and retailers refuse. Please be aware, however, that the Post Office has agreed to exchange them for goods and services.
It is our understanding that Coin Co International – a private company – is willing to exchange commemorative crowns at face value minus a small percentage.
Prior to the introduction of the bi-metallic £2 into general circulation the Royal Mint issued a number of single-metal, commemorative £2 coins. A listing of these coins, issued from 1986 to 1996, may be found at the following link.
The commemorative £2 coins were issued to mark special occasions rather than for use in general circulation. They are legal tender but contrary to popular belief this does not mean that banks and retailers automatically have to accept them. Indeed you will probably find that most banks and retailers refuse.
It is our understanding, however, that Coin Co International – a private company – is willing to exchange commemorative £2 coins at face value minus a small percentage.
Sovereigns for circulation were last struck in London in 1917 – although they continued to be produced at the overseas branches of the Royal Mint for a few more years.
The composition for British white-metal circulating coins from 1816 onwards is given below.
1816 – 1920: sterling (925) silver
1920 – 1946: 500 silver
1947 onwards: cupro-nickel
It follows therefore that the last sterling silver coins were issued in 1920, and the last 500 silver coins in 1946.
Yes, the Royal Mint is always pleased to receive new ideas for commemorative themes. If you would like to submit a theme for consideration, please send us the details through the contact us page.
Only a very limited number of United Kingdom commemorative coins are issued each year and a great deal of effort goes into the selection of appropriate themes. The Royal Mint consults with other government bodies and interest groups, and relevant specialists are called in to offer advice on particular subject areas. In addition, consumer research is carried out with collectors of United Kingdom coins and other members of the public.
After completing the consultation process, a selection of themes is drawn up which is then reviewed by an independent committee and at a senior level within the Treasury before being sent for the approval of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Queen. Themes that are chosen invariably relate to significant royal occasions, the commemoration of major moments in British history or the celebration of events of national importance.
Designs for United Kingdom coins are generally obtained by inviting a number of specialist artists to take part in a limited competition. But there are occasions when a design competition is thrown open to members of the general public; recent examples would be for the new definitive reverse designs introduced in 2008 and for the London 2012 50p sporting series.
Whenever a public competition is held, it is well publicised through the Royal Mint website and other media.
The Museum is accessible by appointment for research purposes. If you would like to study the collection or make use of the library and archive, please outline your area of interest using the Research request contact form.
You can visit the Royal Mint Experience which has a large exhibition area featuring hundreds of objects from the Museum’s collection.
United Kingdom coins are legal tender for payment of the amounts detailed below.
£5 (crown) – for any amount
£2 – for any amount
£1 – for any amount
50p – for any amount not exceeding £10
25p (crown) – for any amount not exceeding £10
20p – for any amount not exceeding £10
10p – for any amount not exceeding £5
5p – for any amount not exceeding £5
2p – for any amount not exceeding 20p
1p – for any amount not exceeding 20p
Legal tender has a very narrow and technical meaning in the settlement of debts; a debtor cannot be successfully sued for non-payment if he pays into court in legal tender. In most everyday transactions both parties are free to accept or decline any coin in any amount.
If you have have an enquiry about the Museum, the collection or British coins and medals not answered in our FAQ’s please complete the form below.
Please note: The Museum does not provide valuations for your coins or medals.
Please be aware that it may take up to 28 days to respond to your enquiry.