Could you STILL coin it in with this new Stephen Hawking 50p – when it costs £10?

A new 50p piece released to commemorate the life of physicist Stephen Hawking may join a growing number of the coins that turn out to be worth more than their face value.

The legal tender was put into circulation last week to mark the anniversary of the death of the 76-year-old in March last year. 

Collectors can buy one of the new coins from the Royal Mint in fancy packaging for £10 – but some are already being put up for sale on auction websites such as eBay for £18 each. There is also a gold proof version costing £795.

Honour: The Stephen Hawking 50p can be bought for £10

Honour: The Stephen Hawking 50p can be bought for £10 

One of the most sought after 50p coins came out in 2009 and has an image of the Kew Gardens pagoda on the flip side – and sells for as much as £200. This is because just 210,000 examples of this rare coin were minted to commemorate the Royal Botanic Gardens’ 250th anniversary. 

It is not yet known how many Stephen Hawking coins will be produced. But if millions are issued, it might not rise much in value.

Other 50p coins have been purchased by numismatists – the term used for coin collectors – for more than three figures. If you come across a Battle of Hastings 50p you could well be holding a £200 investment. The coin was released in 2016 to mark the 950th anniversary of the defeat of the English King Harold II by Frenchman William the Conqueror.

The 2012 Olympic Games held in London has also been a great source of collectable 50p coins – with several limited edition versions released to celebrate various sports featured in the quadrennial event. 

The Peter Rabbit coin has sold for £1,000

WWF 50p coin that was released in 2011 to mark the charity’s 50th anniversary sells for as much as £40

The Peter Rabbit (left) coin has sold for £1,000, while this WWF sells for as much as £40

The original Olympic aquatic coin incorporated wavy lines that obscured the swimmer’s face. Only 600 coins were released before the mistake was spotted and the coin was reminted to show the full face. These rare examples are traded for as much as £800.

A 50p coin commemorating the football element of the 2012 Olympic Games and showing the offside rule being explained on the tail side of the piece can sell for up to £30.

If you come across a Battle of Hastings 50p you could well be holding a £200 investment

If you come across a Battle of Hastings 50p you could well be holding a £200 investment

A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) 50p coin that was released in 2011 to mark the charity’s 50th anniversary sells for as much as £40 – the attractive design displays 50 different natural icons on its reverse, ranging from a penguin to a cactus.

In 2016, a set of Beatrix Potter coins was issued to commemorate 150 years since the author’s birth. The Peter Rabbit coin has sold for £1,000 – though traders warn that collectors should not pay such an excessive price.

Other examples, including those with images of Jemima Puddle-Duck and Squirrel Nutkin, have sold for up to £100. 

These rare examples are traded for as much as £800

Kew Gardens pagoda on the flip side – and sells for as much as £200

Olympic aquatic coin (left) are traded for as much as £800, while 2009 Kew Gardens for £200

Christopher Finch, of coin auctioneer and valuer Dix Noonan Webb, says: ‘Collecting modern 50p coins should be seen as a bit of fun rather than a money-making pursuit. Although fashionable at the moment, some values could fall in the future – especially when you see the sky-high prices that have occasionally been fetched at auction.’

Finch says it makes sense that rare original Olympic aquatic coins can often be worth more than their face value because of the strictly limited number produced. But he fears interest in coins such as the Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit could be overinflated because they were minted in their millions.

The coin expert points out that uncirculated coins in tip-top condition will fetch far more than those that have been passed around and used – which tarnishes the ‘brilliant’ sheen and adds dents. 

He suggests it is better to purchase one from a reputable coin dealer rather than buying off a general auction website where you could be sold a fake.