Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. I've found some coins that look British because they've got the Queen's head on but they don't have the right designs on the "Tails" side- what are they?
- A. There's often confusion with coins as many other countries have the Queen as Head of State and use her portrait on their coins and banknotes. they're usually easy to spot as they tend to have the country of origin written on them too! However not every coin with an unusual design is "foreign". The Royal Mint often introduce "one-off designs" for our coins, particularly the 50p and £2 and of course the £1 changes most years.
Recently the 50p has featured the 100th anniversary of Scouting, Roger Bannister's 4 minute mile and Samuel Johnson's dictionary whilst the £2 coin has featured Isambard Kingdom Brunel, The End of World War II, The Gunpowder plot and the DNA double helix! And don't forget that in April 2008 a whole new set of designs was unveiled - our coins (1p - 50p) now don't feature individual designs but are part of a "jigsaw puzzle" that comes together to make one big picture of the Royal Shield!
- Q. I've got a 20p with no date on the heads side - what's it worth?
- A. Back in December 2008 we broke the story of the "dateless" 20p - the new design 20p tails side was married to the old 20p heads side meaning no date appeared - a rare mistake from the Royal Mint. The National press picked up on this months later and now if you have one of these rarities then it could be worth quite a bit - anything from £25-50 depending on where you go. But make sure it really hasn't got a date on at all - if it's one of the old style it has the date on the reverse (tails side) and is worth just 20p!
If it's a new style 20p (part of the "jigsaw" and has no date on either side give us a call on 01404 46972 and we'll try to help
- Q. What is my coin/banknote/medal worth?
- A. We are unable to value coins or medals on-line. For accurate valuations of English, Irish, Scottish and Island coins try the COIN YEARBOOK, available from Token Publishing at £9.95 (plus £2.00 p&p). For valuations of all British and Empire Medals try the MEDAL YEARBOOK priced at just £19.95 (plus £3.50 p&p) or for English, Irish, Scottish and Island banknotes there is the BANKNOTE YEARBOOK at £19.95 (plus £3.50 p&p). To order them, telephone +44 1404 44166, fax us on +44 1404 44788, or simply go to the books pages on this site.
- Q. I have a £2 coin with the Queen wearing a necklace but all my other £2 coins have a different Queen's head. Is it worth anything?
- A. Yes - £2! There is a common misconception that the 1997 £2 coin (the one showing the Queen with a necklace) is worth more than later issues but sadly this isn’t the case. The rumour started because in 1997, when the £2 coin was due to be launched, there was a problem with the electronic signature (which allows vending machines to tell what coin it is). This meant the launch was delayed until spring 1998. In the meantime the Queen’s portrait was changed and it was thought that the ‘old style’ £2 coins wouldn’t be issued at all; this would mean that those pre-sold in packs or sets would be the only ones bearing the “Necklace portrait”, making them rare. However, as 13 million 1997 £2 coins had been minted, it was decided to release them anyway - meaning that they are actually quite common. The reason that they aren’t as common as the ones featuring the other portrait of the Queen is simply that “only” those 13 million were minted, whereas every £2 coin since then has had the other style bust on it, just like every other coin minted from 1998 onwards.
- Q. I’ve got a very old coin. Does that make it valuable?
- A. Age isn’t the only factor by any means; Roman coins can be incredibly cheap despite being thousands of years old. What matters more is the scarcity of the coin, and its condition.
For example a 1933 penny is worth thousands, despite only being seventy years old, because there were only a handful minted. And an EF Victoria 1879 halfcrown is worth more than double a 1688 James I halfcrown in F condition despite the latter being nearly 200 years older than the former.
- Q. What do the letters F, VF, EF and 'Unc' mean when you talk about coins?
- A. F is Fine – a coin that has been in circulation and has general signs of wear but isn’t badly worn.
VF is Very Fine – a coin that has had little use but shows wear on high surfaces
EF is Extremely Fine – looks like it has never been handled but might actually show a few minor marks upon closer inspection.
'Unc' stands for Uncirulated – exactly as it suggests, although the coin might show slight marks where it came into contact with others during minting.
'Proof' is a particular type of striking. Proof coins are struck on different dies to circulating coins and are usually struck as collectors' pieces. Usually they are packaged and thus 'Unc' but it is possible to get proof coins in VF or F condition!
- Q. My Father never claimed his medals/I've had my medals stolen. Where can I go to get them/replacements?
- A. Recently there have been changes to the Medal Offices with all services being catered for at one location. The address for claiming UK medals, including the new "Arctic Star" or Bomber Clasp, Canal Zone GSM or clasp and for Home Guard or Civilians claiming the Defence Medal is:
Combined Services Medal Office, Building 250, Imjin Barracks, RAF Innesworth, Glos., GL3 1HW
If medals have been lost or misplaced, they can be officially replaced if shown to have been lost through no fault of the recipient, i.e. in a burglary, fire etc. This would require proof of some kind in the form of a police report, insurance claim etc. Medals sold, or mislaid through carelessness, are not officially replaced - but do remember that if you are looking for WWII Medals (non-Gallantry) none of these were named so you can get them replaced by any medal dealer, all you need to know is your (or your relative's) entitlement, again the medal office will be able to help.
- Q. I’ve lost my medals in a house move. How can I trace them?
- A. We offer the MEDAL TRACKER service to try to do exactly that: it runs in MEDAL NEWS magazine every month and IS NOW ON-LINE!. The magazine service is free to subscribers and just £2.50 per month to non-subscribers (minimum of two months). The on-line service is £5 per entry (for both subscribers and non-subscriber) and can now be used entirely independently of the magazine
All we need is the name, rank, number (if known) and regiment of the recipient, along with details of which medals you are seeking – and we will do the rest.
For more information, have a look at MEDAL NEWS magazine – you can request a free sample copy today Or visit www.medaltracker.com
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or buy one of our acclaimed YEARBOOKS – they contain most of the answers you will ever need.
- Q. I bought a coin for £10 last month but another dealer has only offered me £7 for it. Is he ripping me off?
- A. No! Don't forget that a dealer is just that, he deals in coins for a living, he needs to make money just like you or I do. If you bought your coin for £10 the dealer you are offering it to knows that he too can sell it for £10 - which means he has to buy it for less to make some kind of profit.
Of course many dealer prices do vary and you might get one dealer offering you £7 whilst another offers £9 - shop around for the best selling price just as you would a buying price.
- Q. How can I tell if my medal/coin is genuine?
- A. Sadly there are a great many fakes and forgeries around these days, often originally produced as "copies" but now sold on as the genuine article.
Sometimes it will be obvious if what you have is not "quite right" maybe you notice a file mark where the word "copy" has been erased or perhaps it just doesn't have the look or feel of the proper thing - if in any doubt don't buy until you've had it looked at.
There is no real subsitute for handling medals and coins as often as you can, after a while you get a "feel" for what's right and what's not - but until then any dealer will happily take a look at something for you.
If you do find you've been lumbered with a fake or forgery don't worry, try and get your money back from the person who sold it to you, often they won't have been aware that there was a problem. If you can't though still don't worry - there are people who collect such things so you may still get your money back.
Just don't try to sell on a fake as an original if you know it's not, that's deception and a criminal offence!