Frequently asked questions
Yes, we have an authentication and valuation service for British coins made by The Royal Mint before 1971. The service ranges from a general valuation to a fully certified authentication. To find out more visit our Authentication and Valuation page here https://www.royalmint.com/collector-services/valuations/
Over 26,000 million coins are estimated to be in circulation in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mint issues new coins to a small number of cash centres which are operated on behalf of the major banks and post offices. These cash centres, in turn, distribute coins to local branches of banks and post offices in order to satisfy demand from business customers and members of the public.
If demand for a particular denomination can be met from stocks of coins held within the banking sector, then the banks will not need to draw new coins from The Royal Mint. If, on the other hand, new coins are required and The Royal Mint holds stocks of previous years' dated coins then these are placed into general circulation before the current year dated coins are released.
The cost of producing United Kingdom coins varies according to the specification of each denomination. The value of metal in each coin accounts for a large part of the total cost, but it is also necessary to take into consideration the broader costs of the manufacturing process. These vary according to the complexity of the coin.
The Royal Mint does not reveal exactly how much it costs to make specific coins as such information could be used to its competitors' advantage.
Under Section 10 of the 1971 Coinage Act - 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, has at any time after 16th May 1969 ceased to be so.
Click onto the link below and you will see contained within our Advertising guidelines, further details which are available from the Treasury website (HM Treasury guidelines on coinage and banknote issues).
View our Advertising Guidelines
With time, all coins show signs of ageing. Various terms are used to describe this process such as tarnishing, discolouring and toning. It is a natural process, although the speed at which it progresses depends largely on the environment in which the coins are kept. In most instances, it is a very slow process and the natural patina which develops is considered by many to enhance the beauty of the coins.
The tarnish on a coin is made up of the product of the corrosive element in the atmosphere and the metal from the coin surface. If the tarnish were to be removed, the coin surface might become pitted and very unattractive after cleaning - therefore we do not recommend cleaning.
Obviously, over the years The Royal Mint has continually improved the production process for proof coins and therefore, our more recent products are less likely to tarnish. However that is not to say that the newer products will not tarnish; as indicated, this is a natural process.
Sometimes the top of the edge inscription will be pointing towards the obverse of the coin and at other times it will be pointing to the reverse of the coin. There is no right or wrong way. The reason for this is because the edge inscription is rolled onto the coin blank before the blank is struck between two dies to impart the "heads" and "tails". Depending how the blank falls into the coin press determines the way in which the design is struck in relation to the edge inscription. With ordinary circulation coins being struck at over 700 coins per minute it is simply not possible to ensure that each coin is struck with the edge inscription pointing in the same direction.
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.
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 because this was considered to be more consistent with the weight and size of the coin.
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 some United Kingdom high-street banks are willing to accept demonetised coins from their customers. Please be aware, however, they are under no legal obligation to do so.
If you would like to return your order, please return it to the following address.
Quality Department PCU
PO Box 500
Please enclose a note with the following:
1. Customer Code (can be found on your Despatch Note)
2. Despatch Ref (can be found on your Despatch Note)
3. Reason for return
While it is known for coins to suffer damage and/or to become severely worn in circulation, the average life of a coin in active circulation can be in excess of forty years. Many people who used pre-decimal coins still remember that coins of Queen Victoria's reign, dating back to the 1860's, were not uncommon.
Traditionally bronze coins were made from an alloy of copper, tin and zinc. Since September 1992, however, 1p and 2p coins have been made from copper-plated steel. The change was made because of the increasing price in world markets of base and non-ferrous metals. The copper-plated coins are the same colour, weight, diameter and design as those struck in bronze and circulate alongside them. There is one notable difference. Copper-plated coins are attracted to magnets because of the iron content of the steel core, whereas bronze coins are not magnetic.
In 1998, 2p coins were struck in both copper-plated steel and bronze. We may decide to do this again because, by having this flexibility to produce in either material, The Royal Mint can better meet customer needs promptly and cost effectively.
All 2p coins struck between 1971 and 1981 included the words 'NEW PENCE' as part of their reverse. In 1982 and in subsequent years the words 'NEW PENCE' were replaced with the word 'PENCE'. However, in 1983 a small number of 2p coins were mistakenly struck with the wording 'NEW PENCE' on the reverse. These coins were produced to brilliant uncirculated quality - a standard higher than ordinary circulating coins - and were included in special sets intended for collectors.
Since there are relatively few coins with the date 1983 and the inscription 'NEW PENCE' in circulation, they may well have a value higher than face value to a collector. The Royal Mint is, however, unable to comment on the value of any individual coin and we would recommend that you should consult a coin dealer.
It should be possible for you to locate a coin dealer by contacting the British Numismatic Trade Association. You can visit their website at www.bnta.net
The original November 1997 launch date for the new bi-colour £2 coin was postponed until the following year, but the Royal Mint had already produced £2 coins in readiness, struck with the portrait of Her Majesty The Queen by Raphael Maklouf.
This portrait had been used on all United Kingdom circulating coins between 1985 and 1997, and features the Queen wearing a necklace. By the time the £2 coin was launched into general circulation in June 1998, a new portrait of the Queen, designed by Ian Rank-Broadley which does not feature a necklace, had been approved for use on all United Kingdom circulating coins. These 1998 £2 coins were released at the same time as those minted in 1997.
This explains why some of the £2 coins in circulation feature the new portrait and others show the earlier portrait. Since millions of the 1997 £2 coins were issued, there is no reason to believe that these coins are particularly rare.
The Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are Crown Dependencies of the United Kingdom. They have their own legislative and taxation systems and issue their own banknotes and coins. These, in common with United Kingdom coins, bear the portrait of Her Majesty The Queen. However, they are only legal tender within the Crown Dependencies themselves. If you are in possession of coins of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, please contact the issuing authority of the relevant Crown Dependency.
Policy responsibility for the issue of coins in United Kingdom Overseas Territory rests with the Government of the territory concerned. It is customary for the obverse side of such coins to bear a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen. In addition, some Overseas Territories issue coins with the same physical specification as United Kingdom coins.
The coins of Overseas Territories are legal tender within the territory concerned. These coins sometimes find their way into circulation within the United Kingdom, but they are not legal tender within this country.
If you are in possession of coins of Overseas Territories, please contact the issuing authority of the relevant territory.
The United Kingdom Overseas Territories include:
British Antarctic Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
British Virgin Islands
St Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha)
Turk and Caicos Islands
South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
The design on the reverse of the £2 coin traces the story of technological development with four concentric circles representing from inner to outer, the Iron Age, the Industrial Revolution, the Computer Age and the Internet.
The edge inscription complements this theme, being taken from a letter written in 1676 by Sir Isaac Newton to his fellow-scientist Robert Hooke, acknowledging the debt he owed to other scientists:
'if I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants'.
This quotation, stressing that today's achievements would not be possible without the discoveries of the past, was felt to sum up the spirit of the reverse design. Since Sir Isaac Newton was himself Master of the Royal Mint, from 1699 to 1727, the choice of the quotation seemed particularly appropriate.