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What are coins? A starter guide.

Along with banknotes, coins are the official means by which payment can be made for goods or services. Whatever the actual value of the content of the coin, the government of the country concerned guarantees the face value that it bears. Collectors differentiate between circulation coins (which refer to normal coinage used in everyday life) and commemorative coins (which are issued to commemorate special events, anniversaries or personalities).

coin collecting with The London Mint Office

Coins are pieces of money mostly made out of metal. They are produced according to the size, weight, text and picture motif determined by the issuing country or territory. Coin laws regulate the production of coins in all countries and may designate the inscriptions, wording or the features used for security purposes.

Circulation coins are coins which are minted with the same motif over many years and which are used for payment in everyday life. In Britain, these encompass all coins from 1 pence to 2 pounds, with only the year date changing from year to year unless changes to the design or size are introduced.

Commemorative coins are especially popular with collectors. Commemorative coins are only minted with one specific year date and tend to be issued for specific events or anniversaries. For example, they may honour historic or actual events and personalities from politics, economy, sports and culture. The London Mint Office offers a wide range of commemorative coins issued to mark such personalities as The Voice of a Nation, Dame Vera Lynn or the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain - click here for details.