Coin valuation: Are my old coins worth anything?

Annie Shaw / 08 July 2014 ( 28 August 2018 )

Money expert Annie Shaw answers a reader's question about the value of old British coins.

Coin valuation: a reader asks...

While I was clearing out my garage after my partner’s death, I found a Haig Dimple whisky bottle full of sixpences, some of them perhaps silver. 

What can I do with them? Are these coins worth money?

Annie Shaw replies:

You could try selling old coins at auction. You could either put them into a local auction or try selling them on an auction website such as eBay or eBid.

If you are selling in an online auction, just be aware that you could end up paying more in delivery charges than you get in the sale if you aren’t careful about costing shipping fees, as a bottle of old coins is going to be very heavy to post.

Could you be sitting on a fortune in forgotten shares?

A full-size Dimple bottle holds approximately £40 in sixpences, with each sixpence worth 2.5p at pre-decimalisation face value. 

However, the bottle and its contents could be worth more to coin collectors. 

It could also be worth your while going through all the sixpences to see if there are any rare coins or special British coins that might interest a collector. 

Do your research

You need to do some research on the internet, or get a good book on old coins as, unless you know a friendly coin dealer who will look at them all for you, you may not find anyone in the coin trade willing to spend the time going through them to give you the coins' value, all for little chance of return. It is, however, always worth asking.

There are no completed sales of Dimple bottles with sixpences inside them on eBay at the time of writing, but I did see one half-filled with decimal half-pences for sale with an asking price of £25. 

Read our guide to selling gold

Empty Dimple bottles seem to sell for about £5 to £6, and old sixpences seem to sell for about £1 each when they do sell (and many don’t). 

There was a recent sale of 100 sixpences for £9.99 with free postage, which would net about £4 or £5 for the seller after delivery charges and eBay commission – in other words, less than their face value.

Some high street banks will give you the face value of the coins and they will send them back to the Royal Mint for melting down.

Annie Shaw

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Valuable coins to look out for

Do look out for pre-1947 sixpences in the collection: they are more valuable coins as they contain silver. Malcolm Ellis Coins of Witley in Surrey is currently offering “at least £18 per £1 face value” (ie per 40) for pre-1947 sixpences.

Sixpences minted between 1920 and 1946 were struck in 50% silver. Those struck before 1920 are made of 92.5% silver, so accordingly are worth almost double. Rare coins, such as a 1893 sixpence with the Victoria jubilee head, could be worth thousands of pounds.

Buy your Collectors' Coins guide from the Saga bookshop.

Unless, however, you have mostly pre-1947 sixpences in the collection you are not going to make your fortune by selling the bottle of coins. But you could make a few pounds. 

If you don’t want to do the work involved in disposing of the collection yourself you could always give the bottle to charity and let it make some money from a sale.

You will find lots of useful information about the value of old coins and links to other helpful sites and publications at Coins of the UK.

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What to do if you have a valuable coin

If you think you have found a valuable coin in the collection, you could try contacting these coin dealers for more advice: Spink or Baldwin's (both in London), or R. Ingram Coins of Southampton.

There’s also a directory of coin dealers on the British Numismatic Trade Association site, and at Numis, which can help you find one near you.


Money expert Paul Lewis on the new pound coin 

A new £1 coin was issued on March 28, 2017. Thinner, lighter, but slightly bigger than the old £1 coin, it is the first change since 1973. The Royal Mint admits one in 30 old £1 coins were fakes – about 40 million! The new coin contains several hi-tech security features to make it harder to counterfeit.

The new 12-sided coin is similar to the old 3d bit, which many readers will remember. When they were introduced in 1937, they were worth the equivalent of about 63p now so the new £1 coin is still worth a little more. But with inflation rising it will not be many years before it is worth just thruppence in old money.

From October 16 2017, the old £1 coin was no longer accepted in shops. You were able to exchange them at banks for some time after that. For more information on what to do with old £1 coins, visit The Royal Mint

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.