Why 20p in the hand may be worth £300

Firm offers £50 for each coin with mistake but dealers say value will only rise further

It was an offer which had people across the country rummaging in their pockets for loose change: a specialist dealer in rare coins willing to give £50 to anyone who sent in a 20p piece minted without a date.

But it turns out that the seemingly generous offer, which had Britons scouring their wallets and purses in the hope of finding one of the elusive coins, is one that savvy consumers should refuse.

Several specialist coin dealers told The Independent yesterday that the 20p pieces could be worth up to £300 within five or 10 years, especially if they were kept in good condition and turn out to be particularly scarce.

The £50 offer was made by a privately owned company called the London Mint Office, which has no connection to the Royal Mint.

The minting mistake occurred last year, when the 20p piece was being redesigned. The new coin was supposed to shift the date from the tails side to the heads side but for one batch the Royal Mint accidentally used an old version of the Queen's head, which did not have the year printed on it. The result was a coin with mismatched sides, known as a "mule". Between 50,000 and 200,000 of the faulty 20p pieces are thought to be in circulation.

Richard Anderson, a specialist dealer in modern coins, said the 20p coins could be worth up to £300 within a decade.

"It's quite rare that a mule comes up, and every known mule that there is over the course of the years always fetches high money," he said. "So it's a bit of a punt, a bit of a speculation on their part. If anybody finds one, they should just keep hold of them, because they will appreciate."

Chris Perkins, a coin specialist and author of the book Check Your Change, said he first became aware of the faulty 20p pieces at the end of 2008, but that they had largely escaped the attention of the general public until now. He owns two of the coins himself, for which he paid between £30 and £40 each, but added that their future value depended "on the hype" surrounding them.

"What I expect the London Mint Company will do is hype it up massively and then start knocking them out for £100 or £150," he said. "Poor old ladies who don't know much about it will be ones that buy them."

The London Mint Company are not the only people trying to make a fast buck on the rare coins. Yesterday, the internet auction site eBay was flooded with listings for the coins. One was already worth £190 after attracting 34 bids, and one example could be purchased immediately for £500.

Nick Hart of the London Mint Company said he believed £50 was a "good starting price" for the coins, but that the company would consider upping its offer if the sellers were unhappy. "It's in everyone's interests that we get the price absolutely right," he said.

The Royal Mint said it could not comment on the future value of the coins, adding that this was a matter for collectors and specialist dealers. The 20p "mules" are legal tender, a spokesman said.

The last time an undated coin entered circulation was in 1672, during the reign of Charles II.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test