Up to 200,000 20 pence pieces accidentally issued without dates struck on them could be worth £50 or more each.
An error at the Royal Mint saw the recently redesigned coins issued without 2009 stamped on them; this is the first time undated coins have entered circulation since 1672.
Despite the lack of date, the coins are still legal tender. However, coin experts say they are worth considerably more than 20p with The London Mint Office – a distributor of collector coins – offering £50 per coin to anyone lucky enough to find one in their wallet.
A raft of the coins have already been put up to sale on ebay, with one seller managing to sell his for £7,100.
The mistake occurred following the redesign of all coins between 1p and £1 in value last year. This included the date moving from the ‘tails’ side of the coin to the ‘head’ side. However, it is believed between 50,000 and 200,000 new 20p coins has been produced and circulated as ‘mules’ – that is, mismatched with the new tails side and the old head.
Coins have carried the date of issue on them since 1662. New coin designs usually coincide with the change of monarch – however, according to The London Mint Office, there is an unwritten rule that coins should be redesigned every 40 years.
The London Mint Office says the fact that this is the first time in more than 300 years that undated coins have entered circulation is “testimony to the excellence of The Royal Mint”. It adds: “Its stringent quality control procedures mean that error striking such as the undated 20p are exceptionally rare indeed.”
It also offers an opportunity to anyone who finds themselves in possession of one of these “rare” coins. While The London Mint Office is offering to buy coins for £50 a go (see its special website undated20p.com for more details) they could be worth more elsewhere.
The 20p piece was first ‘struck’ in 1982. A year later, the Royal Mint made an error with 2p pieces when it minted an unknown number with the wording ‘new pence’ rather than ‘two pence’. The coin never made it into circulated, but example are believed to be worth several hundred pounds.
In 1994, the Royal Mint was left red-faced after a gold £2 coin was issued with the wrong legend on the Queen’s head side.
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