Coin collecting is a hobby which is loved by many, and it can see some people pay huge amounts of money for rare and/or scarce coins. From coin shows to online marketplaces such as eBay, there’s a whole host of places where sellers will head to in order to put it up for purchase. Wherever you find the coin, it’s advisable to do your research first – in order to check its value and to ensure that it’s genuine. That’s why Express.co.uk has sought the expertise of a coin collecting expert from Royal Mint.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Matt Curtis, Historics Manager for Collector Services at The Royal Mint, explained the difference between a scarce coin and a rare coin.
So, what makes a coin rare?
He explained: “If there are only a small number of coins known to be available for collectors to buy, this makes it hard for people to find them for sale, which can in turn lead to high prices.”
Comparing this to a scarce coin, he detailed: “For a coin to be classed as ‘scarce’ it will have a low mintage figure, but shouldn’t be too hard for collectors to find.
“Scarce coins tend to be worth significantly more than its original value.
“An example of a rare 50p would be the 2011 Olympic swimming 50p with the swimmer’s face under water known as the “lines over face” version.
“You would need to be prepared to pay £1,500 for a circulated example!”
On the other hand, the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p coin is considered scarce.
Pointing out its difference to being rare, Matt said: “The Kew Gardens 50p is considered scarce as opposed to rare, as they are easy enough to buy on the secondary market and you could buy one for around £100; still a significant amount more than its original value!”
Matt also pinned down the key difference between scarcity and rarity, explaining: “It’s all to do with the number of coins available for collectors to buy, either because of an initial low mintage figure or, for more historical coins, the number left in existence.”
If you’re looking for the rarest circulating 50p coin out there, Matt suggested that it is likely to be the 2011 Olympics swimmer coin, which has lines over the face.
So, where should a person head if they want to get hold of this genuine coin?
“The best place to find it are from coin dealers and at coin shows,” Matt told Express.co.uk.
Some people will head online in order to pick up coins for their collection. What advice would Matt give on the matter?
“If they are selling a genuine coin they will be happy to help with extra info and details about the coin,” he said.
“Fake coins are often not the right weight or diameter, so asking the seller for these measurements is definitely worthwhile before you purchase.”
Another of Matt’s coin collecting tips is to “always buy the best quality coins you can”.
He added: “A coin’s value comes from its rarity and condition – you can’t control rarity but you can control condition!”