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I've Found an Old Coin in Change, What's it Worth? Click to return to Coin FAQsChard 24 Carat Home Page

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Coins From Circulation

First, The Bad News
Most coins taken from your change are unlikely to be worth more than their face value.

Most collectors prefer coins in the best condition possible. Circulated coins usually have a considerable amount of wear. Even tiny scuffs and scratches, or fingerprints are unacceptable for many collectors.
There are a few people who collect coins from circulation, just for the fun or challenge of finding different types, or a complete set of different dates. Of course, such collectors obtain their coins at face value, and they are usually reluctant to pay any extra. Why should they?

No Old Coins
The earliest coins in circulation in the UK date back to 1971, hardly any time at all for a coin. Before decimalisation, many British coins in circulation dated back to 1860, or even 1816, so it was quite common to handle coins over 100 years old. When individual coins have been in circulation a long time, they usually become quite worn, and the occurrence of that particular date in change will have decreased, due to loss and wear. An older date, in particularly fine condition might then be worth a small premium, providing there was enough demand from collectors. Because there are no longer any "old" coins in circulation, it is doubtful that any will be worth even a tiny premium price.

Special Collectors Coins
Since the coin collecting boom of the 1960's, many world mints started producing special proof or mint sets or individual coins for sale to collectors. Because of the marketing behind this, there are many thousands, sometimes millions, of mint condition coins in existence. These special collectors issues are often packaged, so there is every likelihood that the coins will be retained in their packaging, and thus will remain in mint condition for many years, and seldom get accidentally spent. This means that there is more than a ready supply of mint condition modern coins, further reducing the chance that any coin found in circulation will be valuable.

Made To Last
It may seem obvious, but coins are made of metal, and are made to last a long time, and withstand a lot of wear and tear. Coins are one of the most durable manufactured artefacts produced by civilisation.

Mass Produced
Coins are also mass produced in vast quantities. For example, since 1971, over 12 billion pennies have been produced. This is equivalent to over 400 million per annum, or more than 1 million every day!
In case anybody is wondering, that works out at about 49,000 per hour, 812 per minute, or 13 per second.
Another perspective is to consider that as over 200 pennies per head of population. If you don't have 200 pennies in your pocket or purse, then who has? One partial answer is that many small coins become lost.

Two Pound Coins (£2)
Recently £2 coins have been in the public eye, because of the well-known silly "necklet" rumour. Over 13 million 1997 bi-metallic two pounds were produced and put into circulation, and in the five previous years in which base brass two pound coins were minted, 25,631,047 were placed in circulation, making a total of 39,365,672 £2 coins with necklet.

Supply & Demand
Most people are well aware that supply and demand influence market prices.
Taking the lowest mintage figure for any modern base metal £2 coin, the 1,443,116 issued in 1994, the number of coins collectors would need to increase by somewhere between 10 and 100 times the current number. Not all collectors are interested in the same coins, some only collect ancient coins, some only modern, some collect gold, some silver.

Old Does Not Equate To Valuable
The Roman Empire minted millions of coins. Many are still available today. It is possible to buy large quantities of Roman coins for only a few pounds, sometimes less. Most of these Roman coins are over 1600 years old, but although they are interesting, and very collectable, they will never become highly valuable unless they number of Roman coins collectors starts to exceed the number of Roman coins available to collectors.
Incredibly, people often phone us to tell us they have found a very old coin, dated 1937 (for example), and then wonder why we fail to get excited.

Throwing Money Away?
Why are there so many old coins around?
When was the last time you threw any money away? Coins are a form of money. People do not go around throwing money away. Even Turkish Lire, worth about one penny per million, or Yugoslavian Dinars which are inconvertible. This means that old coins just hang around in drawers for decades before resurfacing, often in near mint condition.

Is My Coin Worth Keeping?
Will it increase in value?
If you have picked a coin out of circulation which is only worth face value now, it just may eventually acquire a premium value to a collector, but a similar coin in mint condition would always be more desirable to a collector, and hence more valuable.
If a coin is rare and valuable now, then it will almost certainly be worth keeping, and will probably tend to increase in value.
If it is not rare now, it is probably not worth keeping, except for curiosity value.

Buying Coins
We also buy coins, please see our We Buy Coins page. the Lowest Possible Price

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