The Royal Mint is currently in the process of releasing millions of 50p coins to commemorate Britain leaving the European Union on 31 January 2020.
This ranges from regular 50p coins that will soon turn up in your change to gold versions costing nearly £1,000.
But since the 1970s, it has also released a number of seven sided coins marking our membership in the bloc.
And online marketplace eBay suggests that as we leave, there has been heightened interest in coins commemorating dates, such us those for Britain joining the EU and marking the 25 year anniversary, with sellers putting prices up and people buying.
Prime Minister Ted Heath speaking after signing the treaty which would lead to Britain joining the European Union in 1973
Uncirculated versions of a 1973 50p created by the Mint to mark our accession to what was then the European Community have seen their sale price on eBay increase from £3.99 on 29 January, to nearly £7 in the early hours of Brexit day.
This is Money has taken a look to see if there has been any spike in interest in the three commemorative coins produced by the Mint, one of which is very rare, and another which might even turn up in your change after 31 January 2020.
1. Joining the EEC in 1973
Britain officially joined what was then called the European Economic Community on 1 January 1973, following Parliament voting 301-284 in favour of joining which took place the previous July.
Britain decided to ratify its membership of the EEC in a referendum two years later in 1975, with the UK voting 67 per cent to 32 per cent to remain in the common market.
This referendum, of course, was reversed with the UK’s 52-48 vote to leave in the 2016 referendum.
But to commemorate the UK’s accession 47 years ago, the Mint created a coin showing nine ringed hands, representing the fact the UK, Denmark and Ireland had joined the six founding members of the EEC.
The Mint in 1973 created a coin to mark the UK becoming one of the 9 member states of what was then the European Economic Community
It was minted an enormous 89,775,000 times, nearly 3.5 times the number of people who voted in the 1975 referendum.
The coins are the old style 50p pieces, meaning they are larger and heavier than the ones in circulation now, and will not turn up in your change.
Likely, the only way to get hold of one is through eBay or otherwise purchasing it off of someone already in possession of the 50p.
More than 89m were minted, meaning the coin is not especially valuable. However, could Brexit spur a rush of interest in what is now a piece of our history?
According to Coin News Magazine’s book Spend It? Save It? – a bible of coin prices – the 1973 50p has an estimated value of £2 thanks to a high mintage.
A check of eBay of actually circulated coins, rather than uncirculated ones sold directly to people, this valuation seems about right.
Even adjusting for increased interest in the run up to Brexit, This is Money has seen them selling for anywhere between £2.50 and £3.95.
According to one listing selling large numbers of the circulated 50p coins, the value has increased from £2.75 on 22 January, to £3.95 nine days later, suggesting there is increased demand for the coins and buyers were putting prices up as a result.
As the UK edges closer to the exit door at the end of the transition period, it is possible these could become even more sought after.
Sellers appear to have put up the prices of EU-related 50p coins in the run up to Brexit Day on 31 January
2. The UK’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 1992/93
Hardly something which rolls off the tongue, but between July and December 1992 the UK under John Major took over the rotating presidency of the European Council.
Why the Royal Mint decided to mark this moment with a coin is unknown, given that the UK had done this three times before, and all EU countries take it in turns to take charge of the EU’s upper legislative body.
Still, it decided to create a coin with a rather abstract design, showcasing a table with 10 chairs around it and 14 stars on the table.
In 1992/93, the Mint created 109,000 coins to mark the UK taking over the rotating presidency of the European Council for 6 months
The big news for collectors is that this old style 50p was minted just 109,000 times, making it incredibly rare.
You won’t find it in your change – it is again, the old heavier style coin – but on eBay one circulated version had sold for £99.95, with another for that sum still available.
Meanwhile, an auction which started at £25 a few days ago is currently at £45, with three days left at the time of writing.
The coin is estimated to have a value of £50, but we found one which had sold for almost twice that
Spend It? Save It? gave it a value of £50, meaning it has substantially overshot that in the sale we could find.
As you might imagine, it was very difficult to find any circulated versions of this coin out there, but once Britain leaves the EU, there may well be more posted up on eBay as collectors look to cash in on its rarity.
Another coin was the focus of a bidding war which stood at £45 with 3 days to go
3. An EU coin which COULD turn up in your change
So far, the two coins we have covered were minted long enough ago that they will not turn up in your change, due to them being the old style 50p coins.
But there may well be plenty of this third and final 50p still lurking out there.
In 1998, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the UK’s accession to the European Community – at this point a full-scale political union – the Royal Mint created just over 5million coins to mark the date.
It is worth noting that this is more coins than have initially been put into circulation on 31 January to mark the UK’s exit from the EU, though over the course of 2020 10million will be put out there by the Mint.
This coin, minted during the premiership of Europhile Prime Minister Tony Blair, displays celebratory fireworks which explode into stars like those on the flag of the European Union.
Out there: These 1998 50p coins can still turn up in your change
Being relatively plentiful, these are estimated to have a value of just £2, but This is Money has seen circulated versions up for sale on eBay for anything from 99p to £3.50.
And though this still represents as much as seven times their face value, given they are still legal tender, it is likely the more enticing fact about the 1998 coins is that they can still turn up in your change.
Collectors may want to keep hold of them, as other numismatists may well be ready to pay a higher price to pick them up after Brexit.
Special Brexit 50p coins sell out… and crash the Mint’s website
As well as the 10m Brexit coins, which read ‘Peace, Prosperity and Friendship with all nations’, that will enter circulation, the Royal Mint at midnight on 30 January put up for sale special 50p coins.
Among these were 1,500 limited edition gold proof coins, which were sold for £945. By the morning of 31 January, they had already sold out.
The 1,500 limited edition Brexit 50p coins had already sold out when This is Money checked this morning
And such was the scramble in the early hours of the morning from those looking to get their hands on the gold, silver or brilliant uncirculated coins, the Mint’s website crashed under the strain at around 1am.
When This is Money checked at about 10:30 in the morning on 31 January, we found ourselves in a queue of 167, though this is a much shorter one than when the Mint put out coins featuring popular children’s book character the Gruffalo last year.
Queuing up: Collectors were forced to wait in line to get their hands on uncirculated versions of the Brexit 50p
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