How to Collect British Coins

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How to Collect British Coins

Coin collecting is one of the most pursued hobbies in the world and presents a great investment opportunity. Due to the popularity of British coins their value is known to fluctuate and there is potential to make a great profit.

The earliest British coins date back over 2,000 years to before the reign of Roman emperor Julius Ceaser. The Royal Mint commissions modern coins; they started production back in 886 A.D and have remained active ever since. Prospective collectors will require a base knowledge (that this buying guide will provide) before entering the online marketplace.

There are various outlets available for purchasing British coins but none are better respected and revered than eBay. Those young and old have taken up the hobby of coin collecting from Britain’s history and it isn’t difficult to see why.

History of British Coins

Metal coins have been in place as currency for over 2,000 years with older Celtic minted coins dating back further. Collectors hold various coins from the history of Britain in high regard. However before starting a collection it is beneficial to know the types to look out for.


The earliest form of British coin. Mostly made of tin, lead, copper and zinc whilst are unique in the sense that they carry individual markings.


First entered circulation in 55 B.C and were constructed of materials such as silver and gold. They carried a sophisticated and dedicated design featuring imprints of horses, wolves, and historical figures.

Roman Coins

Introduced during the roman invasion in 43 A.D and were in circulation until 450 A.D.


Edgar I was coronated in 959 A.D and one of his first duties was to introduce the penny. The silver coin would remain prominent during his reign. His successor, William I, would further the use of the penny with his own variation.

Gold Coins

In 1345 Edward III introduced gold coins and they would be the first of its type to gain countrywide popularity. However British history would

Milled Coins

Elizabeth I would help popularise the first milled coins and they would eventually enter circulation in 1561. Their monetary form would be half-pounds, crowns, half-crowns and shillings. They’re known amongst collectors for having a unique and eloquent style whilst being the forerunner for the currency used today.

Currency from Britain is often the premiere part of a coin enthusiast’s collection. The country’s distinguished and illustrious history means that perspective collectors have a wealth of variations to choose from.

Common Types of British Coins          

British coins have evolved throughout history, taking on different forms and numerical values. The following are the most noteworthy:

Farthing (1216 – 1960)

The oldest form of currency in the country’s history. Only worth a quarter of a penny and thus the smallest value ever produced. Made of tin, copper and sometimes silver.

Halfpenny (1272 – 1969)

Introduced due to the amount of damaged coins in the market. Like farthings, these come in tin, copper or silver.

Penny (1860 – 1971)

Remains in use in name form only, originally only worth 1/240th of a pound.

Shilling (1461 – 1967)

Minted shillings were commissioned by every monarch apart from Mary I. They’re worth twelve pence and twenty make one pound.

Florin (1849 – 1967)

Florin was introduced by Victoria I and set the trend for coins featuring images of monarchs. They were worth two shillings and constructed from silver.

Crowns (1707 – 1971)

Introduced as means to commemorate special events. Made of silver and worth five shillings.

Guinea (1663 – 1813)

The first machine produced coin and proved to have a far shorter lifespan than initially expected. Made of gold and were worth one pound.

Commemorative Coins (1971 – Present)

Much like crowns these specialist coins are produced to commemorate a special event. Coins such as these have varying degrees of value of up to five pounds. They qualify as legal tender but are rarely used in such manner.

Post Decimal Coins (1971 – Present)

The coin variations that are currently in circulation, bar error coins these do not currently offer much value.

Coins have a base value (which they obtain on initial release), but over time that can increase. Collectors should look towards owning all types of coins in order to experience variation. There are hundreds of coins available for purchase on eBay; the chance to obtain the coin that completes a collection is just a few clicks away.

Condition and Grading

There are several determining factors that help dictate the value of a coin and they should be things to watch for if you’re a potential collector. The better the condition of a coin the more value it may have. The industry has outlined four self-explanatory terms to help buyers understand the condition of a coin prior to purchase.

  • Fine
  • Very Fine
  • Extremely Fine
  • Uncirculated

The categories are far from complex but where coins do not wear evenly on each side collectors should still remain observant. Some coins may be classed as extremely fine on one side and fine on the other. Sellers may also use a plus sign to help offer a more descriptive view on the coin being sold. For example, VF+ indicates that they coin is in a slightly better condition than very fine.

Age and Rarity

The biggest indicator of a coins value is its age and whether or not its circulation was long lasting. For example, the roman penny is ancient however they were produced at such a large rate that their value rarely goes about five or six pounds.

Collectors consider rarity the best scale for judging value. Rare coins that were on a limited production run are constantly in high demand and thus carry a higher price tag. The demand for coins of all types is consistent with some being in permanent demand. Collectors should remain conscious that due to the nature of the coin market and the way their production runs work that rare coins will always be rare coins.

Error Coins

Considered the rarest of the rare, and extremely difficult to acquire; Error coins are those that are miss-produced or irregularly detailed. In most instances such errors are spotted before reaching distribution but some do reach circulation. When this happens they become must have items for coin collectors. Gold coins are closely inspected by the mint prior to release and thus are the rarest error coins to find. Some collectors actually specialise in acquiring error coins. The following are the types of error coins buyers may find on eBay:

Off Center

They come about when the planchet isn’t correctly aligned during the production process.


A coin which contains more than one error, considered extremely limited in numbers.


This occurs when a coin to struck twice during the production process. It usually produces images that are both off center and hard to identify.


Occurs when a coin is struck but sticks to the bottom die. A new coin is then fed to the planchet and struck on top of it; this causes a coin to have the same image on both sides.

Error coins are rarely aesthetically pleasing but their values are unrivalled in the coin market. When auctions for error coins come up on eBay expect the price to escalate rapidly.

How to Buy British Coins on eBay

Coins of any kind are highly sought after and sellers have embraced eBay as a key sales tool. The sites unique approach to shopping means that there is a wide array of British coins available for purchase.

  • In order to find a specific coin locate the antiques category using the links to the left of eBay’s home page.
  • From there select British and then coins. This will display all current live auctions.
  • If you have a particular coin in mind use the search function at the top of the page.

eBay Shops

eBay shops are a great place to start if you’re just openly browsing. Sellers who have an above average amount of stock run these stores and they’ve become great places to find bargains. In order to find an eBay shop use the eBay shops option at the bottom of the home page.

Completing a Purchase

To buy an item shoppers will have to do one of the following when on an item listing.

  • Place a Bid
  • Make a Best Offer
  • Buy it Now

When you’ve successfully won the auction, the buyer can complete the transaction through PayPal. Doing so will mean that the transaction is covered by their buyer protection program which can be important should problems arise with an order.


British coin collecting is an enthralling and educational hobby. Britain has a long and illustrious history and a connection to currency that is unlike any other nation. With such variation in coins available, eBay presents a great opportunity for shoppers to advance their collections. However as has been detailed in this buying guide British coins are not just aesthetically pleasing they can also provide great opportunities for investment. If shoppers are looking to add a European flavor to their coin collection there is no better place to start than with British coins. Partnering this guide with eBay’s array of search options will make shopping for British coins a simple and enjoyable process.

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