The Royal Mint has urged coin collectors to avoid paying huge sums for common coins on the basis of ‘farfetched’ reports, after a 2016 Battle of Hastings 50p reportedly sold for more than £63,000 online.
The 50p was allegedly sold in mid-June after a 41-bid 10-day auction on eBay, and supposedly changed hands for around 126,000 times its face value – although it is extremely unlikely this happened.
It is not a rare coin, with 6.7million struck in 2016 to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and others have recently sold for as little as £1.49.
Nonetheless, despite no proof of this money changing hands – we’ve reported these types of bids on an eBay auction before – a number of news reports suggested otherwise, and now the Royal Mint has decided it needs to step in to prevent people from being ripped off.
A 2016 Battle of Hastings 50p (not this one) reportedly sold for £63,100 after a 41-bid auctionn in mid-June. This is despite the coin not being particularly sought after
It comes as in recent years, more Britons have decided to get into coin collecting, made popular with special sets, such as the Beatrix Potter 50p designs and A-to-Z of 10ps.
Many eBay sellers have tried the same tactic to try and get lucky, by describing the coin as rare when it is nothing of the sort.
There are recent listings on eBay for up to £30,000 now, but there is no indication anyone is interested in buying them for that much.
It is likely that sellers ramp up the prices by putting in fake bids to try and ramp up its future value – people who see the same coin listed for £10 say shortly afterwards, will think they’re getting a bargain after seeing that £63,000 version.
Coin experts seemed baffled by the news it had sold for so much, and the Mint told This is Money that novice collectors need to do their homework.
Its head of collector services, Rebecca Morgan, said: ‘There are occasionally reports of coins selling for large amounts on the secondary market, some of which seem a bit farfetched, so we want to ensure collectors have the right information and pay a fair price.
‘A coin is ultimately worth what the collector is willing to pay for it, but there are factors you should consider before committing to a price.
‘This can include the condition of the coin, its design, mintage figure and what it’s made of.’
The sale seems especially baffling considering the Battle of Hastings 50p has never been considered an especially in-demand coin.
It scored a lowly ‘2’ on coin collection website Change Checker’s latest Scarcity Index in February, the second-lowest ranking on the board.
By contrast, the Kew Gardens 50p, the rarest seven-sided coin in existence with a mintage of just 210,000, scored 100 and was deemed the scarcest and most in-demand coin.
According to website Change Checker’s latest scarcity index, the Battle of Hastings 50p ranked joint second-bottom in terms of how sought after it was
This is Money recently reported it was worth 2,733 per cent than it was a decade ago, and one sold for £145 recently, 290 times face value.
One expert, Philip Mussell of Coin News magazine, poured cold water on the idea of the Hastings 50p selling for more than £63,000.
He said: ‘The very high prices for common coins that you occasionally see on auction sites are very unlikely to have actually been paid.
‘A lot of the time they are inflated just to make the coin look expensive. There is virtually no chance that sum of money actually changed hands.
‘What happens is the “seller” seems to sell a coin for a huge sum, he then go on to list the same coin for a much lower price, but still far in excess of what it’s worth, and those who saw the first one “sell” think they’re getting a bargain.
This is Money has asked eBay if the sale did actually go through.
The Mint said prospective buyers should always know a coin’s mintage, if they are buying a circulated version, before they part with their money.
The Mint provides circulation figures on its website, usually a year or two after the coin is released.
Lower mintage coins tend to sell for more, which is why the 2012 Olympics football 50p showcasing the offside rule is the second-most valuable 50p in Change Checker’s index.
It is the second rarest 50p around after Kew Gardens, and was struck 1.125million times.
The coin displaying the Kew Gardens Great Pagoda was struck in 2009 to commemorate the gardens’ 250th anniversary. There are just 210,000 around, and it is often touted as the most valuable 50p
Coins that are part of sets or have certain designs may prove popular with collectors, either because they are aiming to complete a set or simply because they think a certain coin looks nice.
And topicality can be another reason why a coin may become popular, with This is Money reporting earlier this year that coins marking Britain’s relationship with the EU increased in price in the run up to Brexit day on 31 January.
‘If you have a coin and are unsure about its history, rarity or authenticity’, Morgan added, ‘we offer a range of services at the Royal Mint to help establish its likely value, and help our customers build a bespoke collection.
‘We also have a wide range of resources on our website to help people learn more about the coins in their pockets, and coins they might inherit from family members.’
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