Seven rare coins worth up to thousands that could be in your pocket

More and more of us are using cards and phones almost exclusively to pay for goods face-to-face these days. But there's something to be said for handing over a bank note and receiving a handful of change.

Not only can you keep a closer eye on your spending, but you might be handed a rare coin worth many times its face value. What makes some of these coins more valuable can depend on many things - from unique designs commemorating historic events, to minting errors and rarity.

Sometimes coins with errors could be worth a small fortune because, once spotted, production is stopped and very few of these make it into circulation. Considering the Royal Mint makes more than 3.3 billion coins and blanks each year - according to its website - it's easy to understand how some of those rare 'error' coins can slip through.

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If you find yourself in possession of a rare coin you can earn hundreds, even thousands, of pounds by selling them at auction, online or in person, or through a dealer. However, the price a coin can fetch varies based on things like demand at the time, how common it is, and how much a collector is willing to pay for it.

With so many of these coins being sold on eBay every day, it's also important to know how to tell which ones are genuine. So it's worth doing a little research, or even, in some cases, paying to have a coin authenticated.

But to help you identify which ones might be valuable, we've listed seven coins you may unwittingly have in a pocket or at the bottom of a bag, that may be worth well more than their face value.

Kew Gardens 50p coin

There are just 210,000 Kew Gardens coins in circulation, making it highly desirable. Collectors are often eager to get their hands on a piece like this since their mintage is quite low, making them relatively rare.

The Kew Gardens 50p coin was first released to mark the 250th anniversary of the London landmark in 2009. It features the landmark Chinese Pagoda.

Recently one has sold for nearly £150 on eBay. The item had an original starting price of £50, but a 19-way bidding war ensued, pushing the price up and up to an eventual sale price of £149.50.

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Single Market 50p

With only 109,000 ever minted, it's no wonder this rare 50p is reportedly worth many times its face value. The coin has two dates on it - 1992 and 1993 - and was minted during the years when the UK was in charge of the European Council of Ministers and when the Single Market was launched.

One collector recently said that being one of the rarest 50p coins around, it could be worth up to 120 times its original value, as much as £60.

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Tosha Cat £2 coin

Tosha the Cat design on the rare £2 coin
The Kew Gardens 50p coin was released in 2009 to mark 250 years since Kew Gardens opened and only a few hundred thousand were minted

In September 2011, the fourth Commonwealth Youth Games were hosted on the Isle of Man. To commemorate the event, Pobjoy Mint issued a new £2 coin on behalf of the Isle of Man Treasury - this adds to its rarity due to the typically low mintage figure of British Isles coins.

This £2 coin featured the Commonwealth Youth Games Mascot, Tosha the Cat and the official logo of the games. Last year, one lucky man from Royton received the coin as part of change for a £5 note sold the coin on eBay £236.74.

Lord Kitchener £2 'error' coin

The error £2 coin is missing the 'two pounds' lettering on the head side featuring Queen Elizabeth II
The European single market commemorative 50p coin could be worth up to 120 times its face value

The £2 error coin is from 2014 and features an image of British Military Leader Lord Kitchener, who was used on recruitment posters during the First World War alongside the well-known tagline "Your Country Needs You". The coin was commissioned by the Royal Mint to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war in 1914.

According to the Royal Mint, 5.7million of these coins were produced. However, what makes this coin so valuable is that the words "two pounds" are missing on the head side.

Usually £2 coins have the denomination on the head side, along with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It's not clear how many of these specific error coins there are in circulation, but experts at Coin Hunter say that it is "very rare" to find one without a date.

Recently, such a rare example ended up fetching £1,000 at auction, while another sold for £1,200 back in 2021.

Undated "mule" 20p

Have you ever seen an undated 20p?
Tosha the Cat design on the rare £2 coin -Credit:Ben Mason / SWNS

A rare 20p coin which is missing the date recently sold for almost £60 on eBay. This rare coin was an "undated" or "mule" 20p and there might be thousands like it in circulation.

The error occurred when the Royal Mint changed the coin's design in 2008, moving the date from the back of the coin to the front. However, sometimes the old way was used by mistake, so some coins don't have a date on either side.

Coins with mistakes on them can be worth a lot of money to collectors because they might be the only one or one of just a few. According to Change Checker, the Royal Mint thinks there could be up to 250,000 of these coins out there.

One of these special 20p coins was just sold on eBay for £59. 98 on February 27, 2024. The auction started at 99p and, after seven days, 13 people had placed a bid.

Offside rule 50p

This rare 50p coin was launched to commemorate the 2012 Olympic London Games. Several 50p coins celebrating different events for the 2012 were minted, but the one with an mage explaining football's offside rule is one of the rarest.

While not quite hitting the heights of the sums a Kew Gardens 50p would fetch, recently, the Olympic offside rule 50p reached many times its face value, selling for £14.50 on eBay.

Defective Olympic Swimmer 50p

The coin was made to commemorate the 2012 Olympic Games in London and features the design of a swimmer. 29 different 50p designs were created for the event, each featuring a different sport. However the swimmer coin features a defect, making it more collectible.

The less rare 2012 Olympics Aquatics coin - featuring the wavy lines
The error Kitchener £2 coin is missing the 'two pounds' lettering on the head side featuring Queen Elizabeth II -Credit:Joe Giddens/PA Wire

When the coin was originally designed, it had wavy lines covering the swimmer's face. There was then a redesign in 2011 so the swimmer's face was more visible. 600 coins were commissioned with the original design and accidentally released.

One of these coins has recently been sold at auction. It was estimated to go for between £1,000 and £1,500 and eventually went for a total of £1,680 after VAT and a 10% buyer fee.