Rare 50p coins: the coins that could sell for thousands

As some 50p coins sell for £2,500 on eBay, we explain what to look out for in your change. But be warned, you're highly unlikely to make a mint.

Two rare 50p coins have sold for more £2,500 on the auction site eBay, prompting calls for Brits to check their change to see if they are in possession of a valuable coin.

The coins were issued to mark the 2012 Olympic Games, held in Britain, and were particularly rare variants.

A host of coins were developed which depicted different sports taking place in the games.

These particular 50p coins were marked with images of swimmers, but what made them special was the fact that the coins depicted lines across the swimmer’s face, representing waves.

The coin was later tweaked, so that the face was entirely visible, making this particular variant sought after by collectors.

These coins were just a couple of examples of currency that has sold for far more than the face value through auction sites of last. 

For example, earlier this month a 2009 Kew Gardens 50p coin shifted for a whopping £142.

So how can you tell whether your 50p piece is actually worth more than its face value?

Read on to find out.

Don’t believe the hype

The first thing to point out is that you should be wary of both tabloid articles and asking prices online, says Luke Hearn of the Change Checker website.

Both can give a very over-inflated idea of what a coin is really worth.

"To be honest, there is a lot of misinformation written in the press regarding coins," he says.

"The first and most obvious example of this is when people list coins for a ridiculous amount on eBay when actually nobody is ever going to pay that much.

“I think the reason behind this is nothing more complicated than people chancing their arm on the off chance they may get lucky."

It's best, then, not to be too optimistic – and, if you're checking prices out on eBay, make sure you look at the prices coins have actually sold for, rather than the asking price.

Still have some of the old £1 coins? Find out if they are worth more than face value

What collectors are looking for

If you do find a rare coin, it'll need to be in good condition with little sign of wear and tear if you're to get any more than the face value.

Collectors are particularly keen on ‘Brilliant Uncirculated’ coins, which are made with a special superior finish.

However, it's still worth checking your change for 50p coins that were never intended for circulation but somehow have slipped out.

"This sometimes happens when some poor soul is robbed of their coin collection and the thieves simply break them out of their packaging and spend them," says Perkins.

"Some of these coins are valuable: for example, the 2011 Olympic Aquatics coin with extra lines on the swimmer's face, which was a design that was withdrawn, not adopted and shouldn't have seen the light of day.

“They are rarely offered for sale as they are rarely encountered. The withdrawn 50p in its original packaging is worth £1000-plus."

But it’s not all about the super-rare coins.

There are many far more common 50p versions that are worth a few quid to collectors.

So if you've got a spare couple of minutes, you may want to fetch your purse or wallet right now.

The 2009 Kew Gardens 50p: up to £142

The Kew Gardens 50p was released in 2009 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens.

It's the rarest coin of any denomination currently in circulation, with only 210,000 ever issued.

Kew Gardens 50p (Image: Check your Change)


The 2011 Olympic Football 50p: around £19

Of the 29 50p coins issued to mark the 2012 Olympics, the Football version is one of the most valuable.

Offside explained 50p coin (Image: Check Your Change

The 2016 Flopsy Bunny 50p: up to £8.50

A host of the 50ps in the Beatrix Potter coin series are sought after by collectors. However, the scarcest according to the experts at ChangeChecker is the Flopsy Bunny coin. 

Only 1.4 million are in circulation.

It’s also keeping an eye out for Jemima Puddle-Duck and Mrs Tittlemouse coins from the set.

The 2011 Olympic Triathlon 50p: around £10

There are 2.18 million of these in circulation, depicting a runner, a cyclist and a swimmer.

2011 Olympic Triathlon 50p (Image: Check Your Change)

The 2011 Olympic Judo 50p: around £18

With 1.16 million in circulation, this is one of the rarer Olympic coins.

2011 Juo 50p coin (Image: Check Your Change)


The 2011 Olympic Wrestling 50p: around £15

Designed by Roderick Enriquez, this shows two wrestlers in action.

2011 wrestling 50p coin (Image: Check Your Change)


The 2003 Suffragette 50p: around £5

This is worth far more than its face value.

2003 Suffragettes 50p coin (Image: Check Your Change)

The 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p: around £4.50

Finally, there is the Isaac Newton 50p, which has recently sold for nine times its face value.

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