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14 Oct 2018

Rare coins: 2.6m collectible 10p coins being released this month

Could you have one in your wallet?

The Royal Mint has recently confirmed that 2.6m 10p coins from the popular A-Z Great British Coin Hunt collection will be released into UK circulation this month.

This is in addition to the 2.6m coins that were initially struck and released in March - essentially doubling your chances of finding one.

Which? reveals how you can find one of these coins, what makes rare coins valuable and which coins you should look out for.

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Where are the rare coins being released?

The latest batch of coins will be released traditionally through banks and cash distribution centres around the UK, so everyone should have an equal chance of finding one.

In the past, coins from the A-Z collection have been released in more unusual ways.

The initial release in March was distributed through The Post Office network, and in June, a small number of the 'F' (for fish and chips) coins were given to 20 chippies around the UK to hand over to a few lucky customers.

Similarly in July, the 'N' NHS coin was put in the tills of 13 NHS Trust shops in the UK for visitors to collect in their change.

Will the new release affect the coins' value?

There are a number of factors that determine whether a coin is considered to be worth more than its face value.

The first is how scarce the coin is. A coin's mintage counts how many of that coin were released into circulation. If there aren't many coins in circulation, then they're more difficult to get hold of - and that's why collectors may be willing to pay more for them.

The second factor is how collectible a coin is. People may be willing to pay more for a coin to complete their collections.

While this latest release of more A-Z 10p coins will mean they have higher mintages, it could encourage more people to start collecting and may make the coins more sought-after.

If people hang onto the coins in their own private collections, they're being taken out of circulation and that design will become rarer. This has been the case with the 2012 Olympic 50p coins - more than 75% have now been taken out of circulation by collectors.

Finally, there's the coin's condition. If it's free from marks, scratches and grime, a collector is much more likely to want it in their collection.

However, keen coin collectors are likely to be encouraged by the increased likelihood of finding something special in their change.

Essentially, a rare coin - no matter its mintage, collectability or condition - is only ever worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and being able to sell a coin for more than its monetary value is never guaranteed.

What do coin collectors think?

We asked Which? Money readers, who are collecting the A-Z 10p coins, for their thoughts on extra coins being released, and whether they're worried about their coins' value being affected.

For Ben from Derbyshire, having more coins in circulation isn't a bad thing: 'I don't mind if more coins come out - I will collect more.'

Craig from Stoke-on-Trent isn't put off, either: 'I'm saving for my son - he's three at the moment, so it will be nice for him to have when he's older.'

However, David, who's from Gateshead, isn't happy that more of the 10p coins are being released. 'I bought a few coins for my collections, as I read these coins will become quite valuable in years to come,' he explains. 'Now the Royal Mint has devalued my collection.

'I expect a lot of people will be upset by the Royal Mint's actions.'

Rachel Hooper - a coin expert from ChangeChecker - is glad more 10p A-Z coins are being released. 'We have heard from many frustrated collectors who haven't been able to find any of these coins in their change, and so have been put off the hunt.

'I'm sure that as more turn up in people's change and the opportunity to build a whole collection becomes more attainable, we will start to see more people collecting and swapping these coins.'

When asked what effect the release of more coins will have on the collections' mintage and value, Rachel says: 'While we don't know the exact mintages for each design, if we were to average it out as 200,000 coins per design, that would still mean that each coin is actually scarcer than the rarest circulating 50p - the Kew Gardens - which has a mintage of 210,000.'

So, even with more coins in the mix, collectors should be pleased to know that their A-Z finds will still be rare collectors' items.

Which A-Z 10p coins are the most sought-after?

While there's not enough data to compile a full scarcity index yet, ChangeChecker has instead made a swap index to indicate which coins seem to be the most in demand.

Its results indicate that 'A' Angel of the North is by far the most popular coin, followed by 'E' English breakfast and 'L' Loch Ness Monster.

It's difficult to know the reasons why these have emerged as the top three - it could be that people want coins to match their initials, want an 'A' to start their collection, or simply like those designs the most.

With the new release of additional coins, it will soon be easier to get a clearer picture of which coins people are trying to find.

What is the Great British Coin Hunt?

The A-Z 10p collection is made up of 26 10p coins, each adorned with letters A-Z that picture something quintessentially British. This ranges from King Arthur to a teapot and queuing.

The graphic below shows the full list of A-Z British 10p coins.

If you want to complete your set, the Royal Mint has released a Great British Coin Hunt app to help you track your collection, and shows where in the country the most coins are being found.

The collection has already proved very popular, so fingers crossed more of these coins will be released soon.