Half of Britons don’t know their own coins –
well that’s what the Royal Mint says…
A recent survey commissioned by the Royal Mint suggests that the British population has very little idea about the coins they use every day.
It seems that 17% of people had no idea that Queen Elizabeth II was featured on the obverse (head side) of British coins, with a slightly concerning 4% suggesting it was Queen Victoria and 3% former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
As for the designs on the coins 68% struggled with what was on the penny and perhaps most remarkably practically half of the adult population (48%) were unable to identify the correct number of denominations currently in circulation.
Growing interest in circulating coin collecting
In fact the Royal Mint’s research flies in the face of growing interest in the UK’s circulating coinage. Fuelled by the incredible interest in the Olympic 50 pence coins, that has seen 70% of the 15,000,000 coins that went into circulation disappear – apparently into individual collections – change collecting has gathered considerable momentum over the last couple of years.
In fact there are currently 93 different £2, £1 and 50p coin designs and with only the very latest releases still to make banks and post offices, nearly all are available to collect in your change.
But with so little knowledge about our own coinage, it’s little wonder that some many collectors have turned to www.changechecker.org to track their collection and swap coins with other collectors. With over 75 swap requests being posted each day, we can be hopeful that Britons are rapidly re-educating themselves about their coinage.
I expect that, like me, you were brought up to “check your change”. But it has never meant more than now.
Last year, the Royal Mint launched twenty-nine 50p coins into circulation, one for each of the Olympic disciplines. The result: a nation suddenly keen to check the coins in their pocket, hoping to build a complete collection.
In 20 years in the coin business, it was the very first time I had seen people of all ages genuinely interested by the coins in their change.
But the story should not stop with the Olympic 50p coins.
In fact the Royal Mint has been varying £1 coin designs since the coin was very first issued 30 years ago. Remarkably the 50p first saw a commemorative design in 1973, before they became a regular feature of the UK’s coinage during the 1990s. Similarly, £2 coins were used for commemorative coins as early as 1986, well before the current bi-metallic coin, which went into circulation in 1997, with its first commemorative design being released in 1999 for the Rugby World Cup.
The only collection that will cost you nothing
Of course the joy of change collecting is that it is totally free. Simply keep an eye on the coins in your change and very quickly you’ll own an historic collection of some the UK’s finest coin designs.
But now it is even easier to collect the coins in your pocket with the launch of www.changechecker.org. This completely FREE site is available for mobiles, tablets and PC to help you collect your pocket change wherever you are.
Simply identify your coin by denomination and year to keep track of whether you already own it or not. Plus, if it’s a spare, you can quickly and easily find someone to swap your coin with. All without spending a penny (or any other denomination come to that).
Discover more about Change Checker with your 60 second guide.