I was shocked to find my 50p coin was worth £186 – your spare change could be worth a fortune too

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Undated handout photo issued by the Royal Mint of the Kew Gardens 50p which was released in 2009 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday February 20, 2014. The Royal Mint has revealed that it is the UK's rarest commemorative coin design in general circulation. It is so rare that only 1 in 300 people in the UK might have it in their change. See PA story MONEY Coin. Photo credit should read: Royal Mint/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

A MAN who was left shocked after he discovered his 50p coin was worth an “astronomical” amount has urged others to check their change.

Darren James, 34, bought the rare coin on a whim a few years ago only to find it was now worth more than double its original price.

The 2009 50p coin that Darren sold for a huge price

The Devon man originally purchased the 50p coin for £80 when he was going through a “collector” phase.

It first went into circulation in 2009 to mark 250 years since the opening of Kew Gardens in 1759.

The highly sought after piece of change was reportedly one of the most iconic coins created by Christopher Le Brun.

However, Darren admitted he foolishly threw the coin “to the back of the cupboard” not knowing what it was really worth.

He told Plymouth Live: “I bought the coin at the height of the craze when people were collecting 50p’s and I also collected some of the Olympic ones.

“I bought it for quite a high price, about £80 at the time and I thought I would just throw it in the back of the cupboard.

“When I saw an advert about ‘checking your change’ for rare coins, I thought I would Google the coin and soon realised people were buying them for an astronomical amount and gave mine a go.”

At one point, more than 200 people were watching the bidding of his coin online.

Darren said it wasn’t long before his phone would not stop pinging.

He said: “It was a bit of a shock because it was a bit of a panic bid towards the end and the starting price was much lower than what I bought it for.

“Within the last five minutes of the sale closing, the price just rocketed through the roof.

“It was bid after bid after bid – my phone went nuts.

“It went from two or three people watching it to the last day of it being sold to nearly 200 people watching it.

“I don’t understand how people got their bids in so quickly.”

Darren ended up selling his coin for £186.11, making more than £100 in profit.

He said: “Definitely check your change.

“If you have got anything lying around which is a bit unusual or bespoke I would get it checked and see if it’s worth anything.”

Do you have a rare coin in your spare change?

Rare coins and valuable notes can be worth tens of thousands of times their face value.

The most valuable coins tend to be ones with low mintage numbers or an error.

Those qualities typically make them valuable to collectors.

But other rare and valuable coins could be in your change – ones that contain small and subtle minting errors.

For example, “New Pence” 2p coins from 1983 often sell for hundreds of pounds due to a mintage mistake – they stopped being called “New Pence” in 1981.

Meanwhile a 50p Olympic coin, which was released to celebrate the London 2012 Olympics, has a small error where the water passed directly over the swimmers face.

This was quickly rectified – but a small number were produced and entered circulation.

These coins have sold for up to £1,000.

Look at what your coin has recently sold for on eBay.

Experts from Change Checker recommend to look at “sold listings”.

That’s because anyone can list a coin on eBay and charge whatever amount they wish and doesn’t mean they have been sold for that amount.

By checking the recently sold items you will get a more accurate indication of what people are willing to pay for a particular coin.

How to sell a rare coin

There are lots of ways to sell your coin – you can sell it on eBay, through Facebook, or in an auction.

But be wary of the risks.

For example, there are a number of scams targeting sellers on Facebook.

Crooks will say they’re planning to buy the item, and ask for money upfront for a courier they’ll be sending round.

But it’s all a ploy to get you to send free cash to them – and they never have any intention of picking your item up.

It’s always best to meet in person when buying or selling on Facebook Marketplace.

Ensure it’s a public meeting spot that’s in a well-lit area.

Avoid payment links and log in directly through the payment method’s website.

Most sellers prefer to deal with cash directly when meeting to ensure it’s legit.

Perhaps the safest way of selling rare coins is to sell it at auction – to do this, contact The Royal Mint’s Collectors Service.

It has a team of experts who can help you authenticate and value your coin.

You’ll need to enquire via email, and a member of the valuation team will contact get back to you.

Take a picture of your coin and attach this to the email – you can find the details on The Royal Mint’s website.

Be aware that you will be charged for this service though – the cost will vary depending on the size of your collection.

You might choose to use eBay to sell your rare coin.

But take into account that if you manage to sell your item then eBay will charge you ten per cent of the money you made – this includes postage and packaging.

Always keep proof of postage to protect yourself from dodgy buyers who may claim they never received their item.

Send the parcel by tracked delivery if you can.