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The Olympic coins collectors are desperate for – do you have a 50p worth £1,000?


With just over three months until the Olympics kick off in Paris in July, coin collectors will be eyeing the latest commemorative Olympics 50 pence coin issued by the Royal Mint.

The 50 pence piece, it says, will ‘celebrate and wish Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes the best of luck at the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.’

The coins depict two runners, one Olympic and one Paralympic, but they aren’t set to enter general circulation.

Record year: 2011 saw by far the most 50p coin designs issued by the Royal Mint, with 29 Olympic designs alone

Record year: 2011 saw by far the most 50p coin designs issued by the Royal Mint, with 29 Olympic designs alone

If you want to get your hands on one of these limited pieces, it will currently set you back £69 as part of the annual coin set. 

On the other hand, as the countdown to the Paris games begins, you might find yourself casting your mind back to the mass of Olympic commemorative coins that were issued in 2011, ahead of the 2012 London Olympics.

Unlike with the new Paris coin, the 29 different Olympic 50p designs for the London games were brought into circulation.

This puts 2011 comfortably in first place for the year with the most 50p coin issues, 31 to be exact, with a WWF coin also entering circulation and another design being minted only for ‘brilliant uncirculated’ sets.

The only year coming anywhere near is 2019, which saw 21 50p coins issued for the 50th anniversary of the 50p piece itself.

Commemorative: The Paris 2024 Olympic coin, bottom right, will not enter circulation and is only available as part of the Royal Mint's annual collectable coin set

Commemorative: The Paris 2024 Olympic coin, bottom right, will not enter circulation and is only available as part of the Royal Mint’s annual collectable coin set

Are 2012 Olympic coins worth anything? 

With more than 52 million Olympic coins minted ahead of the 2012 games, it is not as though these coins are a rarity – even now, they turn up in a handful of change from time to time.

However, with an estimated 75 per cent of these coins, or 39 million, having been removed from circulation by collectors, they are becoming less common.

Depending on their rarity, which is based on the number of coins that entered circulation, getting your hands on an Olympic 50p could still earn you a pretty penny, with collectors willing to pay well above the coin’s face value for the right piece.

Withdrawn: The original aquatics designs shows waves passing over a swimmers face, but these were removed to give a clearer image

Withdrawn: The original aquatics designs shows waves passing over a swimmers face, but these were removed to give a clearer image

The least rare Olympic coin, which bears an archery design and saw more than 3 million copies issued in 2011, will fetch around £2.50, the Britannia Coin Company says.

On the other end of the spectrum, however, the football coin, which has a design explaining the offside rule, could earn you as much as £22.95 on eBay, or £22 according to the Britannia Coin Company.

Rare: Of the circulated Olympic coins, the football design saw the least enter circulation

Rare: Of the circulated Olympic coins, the football design saw the least enter circulation

Change Checker rates the football coin, of which only 1.1 million were circulated, at 82 on its scarcity index, classifying it as ‘very scarce’ and making it the most sought after Olympic coin. In comparison, the archery coin is rated as ‘less common’ at just 17 on the scarcity index.

Among the rarer models are wrestling, judo, triathlon and tennis, allow of which saw less than 1.5 million copies minted, and are worth around £11, £15, £15 and £4.50 respectively.

Blue Peter: 19,722 athletics 50p coins were minted in 2009

Blue Peter: 19,722 athletics 50p coins were minted in 2009

Less rare coins like those for athletics, canoeing, and aquatics come in at around £3 for athletics and canoeing, and £2.50 for aquatics coins.

Where the real money can be made though, is with the coins that are not part of the general circulation. And if you have your hands on one, you could earn yourself a tidy sum.

One of these coins comes in the form of an earlier version of the aquatics Olympic 50p design, which shows water passing over the swimmers face. This design was withdrawn from circulation and altered to show the swimmers face more clearly.

For those who managed to nab one of these coins before they were withdrawn, you could be able to sell it for as much as £1,000 according to Change Checker.

The first coin designed for the London Olympics could also fetch you a whopping £275. The model in question, designed for athletics, depicts a high jumper drawn by 8-year-old Florence Jackson from Bristol as part of a Blue Peter competition.

While there are as many as 2.2 million of the 2011-issued versions of this coin, just 19,722 of coins were issued with 2009 stamped on the obverse.

Coins were also released for the Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo Olympics, but only the Rio coin entered circulation. Unfortunately, the design will only sell for about £2.

While there is little chance of landing yourself with a Paris Olympics 50p unless you are willing to part with a fair amount of cash, perhaps it is worth finally breaking into your piggy bank ahead of the Olympics this year to see if you can cash in on the coinage.

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