The Very Rarest Twopences...

Rare Error Twopences Twopences Index Chard 24 Carat Home Page

'New Pence' Reverse on a 1971 Twopence
"New Pence" Reverse on a 1971 Twopence

Reverse of Gold Twopence of 2008
'Two Pence' on Reverse of Later Twopence

Rare Error Twopences
Decimal Twopences
In 1971, the decimal twopence or two pence became legal tender, although it had been available for some time before as part of a five coin familiarisation pack issued in a blue wallet. At first, all the new decimal coins carried the inscription "xxx new pence" or "new penny", to distinguish the new decimal pennies from the old pre-decimal pennies. From 1982 onwards, eleven years after decimalisation, the word "new" was dropped as it was no longer needed. Interestingly an error occurred at the Royal Mint in 1983, as a small number of twopences was issued with the inscription "new pence" instead of "two pence". These error coins are rare, and catalogued at £250 (dealers selling price) in 2003.

Media Misinformation from the BBC?
On Thursday morning 28th June 2003, the BBC programme "Trading Treasures" informed viewers that twopences reading "NEW PENCE" instead of "TWO PENCE" were rare and worth £400 each. We had not heard the programme ourselves, and had to rely initially on what we are told, and it appeared that the programme omitted to tell people that the only one likely to be worth much more than 2 pence is the rare error 1983 twopence which does say "NEW PENCE" instead of "TWO PENCE". None of the others are likely to be worth any more than two pence either now or in the future.
We e-mailed the producers of the BBC programme asking them for a transcript. If we receive it, we will report it here, with further comments. It seems that even if the programme had specified the 1983 date, it would still be misleading people. Our latest 2003 catalogue "Coins of England and the United Kingdom, by Spink" lists it at £250 in uncirculated condition, so £400 sounds like an exaggeration, and to be worth that amount it would need to be in mint condition, lower grade coins would be worth much less. Also the catalogue quotes dealers' selling prices, not buying prices.

How Long Will This Story Roll?
Once a piece of misinformation like this gets released, with a story which people want to believe, it tends to roll on and on, seemingly for ever. The rumour about the £2 coins with the queen wearing a necklace is still going strong, 211 people viewed our web page about it last week. Part of the problem is that this a story which many people want to believe, that they can find a twopence in their change for which they can get £400, so they choose to believe it. On Thursday, we had one caller who had got 300 twopences with "NEW PENCE", and was presumably hoping the story was true, and she would get £120,000 for them. We think she ought to phone to BBC and ask them to pay her. In case you think we have got it in for the BBC, we believe they are generally very good, well researched and informative, even if the current government doesn't agree. We have had at least two callers tell us they heard the same story on RIchard and Judy on Channel 4 at about 6 p.m. on the same day, so it appears that Channel 4 are no more accurate, and have just copied or sourced their material from the BBC. Even if they had sourced the story independently, the BBC beat them to it. We have also e-mailed the producers of Richard and Judy; it will be interesting to see who responds first, if at all.

I've Got Three 1983 - Where Do I Find The Date?
It might be hard to believe, but one caller told us she had found three 1983 twopences, and in the same breath asked whereabouts on the coins could she find the date! We didn't bother to ask her how she knew they were 1983.

So far we have had a helpful response from the BBC's Bargain Hunt Primetime Programme, not only telling us that the relevant programme was Trading Treasures, but also giving us accurate information:-

"...information about the 2 pence coins was featured on Trading Treasures, not Bargain Hunt. This is also a BBC1 programme which goes out just after Bargain Hunt Daytime. Their phone number is 0207 6332770 if you would need any further information."
The only valuable 2 pence coins are the ones with the word TWO PENCE written on it and also date from 1983."
We contacted Trading Treasures, who told us that their programme specified 1983 as the rare and valuable date, and offered to send us a videotape of the programme. We said "Yes please!", and it arrived on Saturday 12th July. We took it home tonight and can report our findings here. Yes we could think of better ways to spend a Saturday evening, especially after our customary 6 day week, but such is our dedication to the cause of numismatic knowledge, that we work away over the weekend, the better to inform our surfers and customers.

Trading Treasures
We listened to the Trading Treasures tape very carefully several times, and are happy to report that their information was absolutely accurate and clear, providing you listened carefully. They stated that the 1983 twopence with "New Pence" inscription was valuable.
What we would have added if we had been the "expert" is that no other date with the same inscription is rare or valuable, and there were over 3.1 billion of them issued!

Cloth Ears
It appears that the BBC were absolutely correct and accurate in their information, and that the misinformation has been produced by listeners not doing so very carefully. It is a frequent occurrence for people to hear what they want to hear rather than what was actually said!

On the Royal Mint's forum, there are some entries dated 26th June about the rare twopences, some citing "the news", so it's possible that the story started before Trading Treasures.

Spink Standard Catalogue of British Coins Our standard, oft-repeated advice to people wanting to know the value of their coin is to check a coin catalogue. We have catalogued this coin, not just for the price but also for information.
According to Spink:

Error Reverse. The word 'new' was dropped from the reverse of the currency issues in 1982 but a number of 2 pence coins were struck in 1983 with the incorrect reverse die, similar to coins listed as 4235*. Reports suggest that the error coins, or 'Mules' were contained in some sets packed by The Royal Mint for Martini issued in 1983."
*4235 is the two pence issued from 1971 to 1981 with the inscription '2 NEW PENCE'

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