Guide, Facts

A Guide to the Twenty Pence Piece

20p Facts

A Guide to the Twenty Pence Piece

Known as the ‘20p,’ the twenty pence coin is a commonly used denomination of currency in the United Kingdom. To explore its history, this guide offers insight into the origin of the twenty pence piece, its design, value, and interesting facts.

When did the 20p coin come out?

The twenty pence piece was first introduced in 1982 on 9th June as part of the new coinage system. The coin was created to bridge the gap between the 10p and 50p coins, and to avoid confusion with similar-sized coins, it was created with seven sides and an equilateral curve heptagon like the 50p.

Since its introduction, the twenty pence piece has undergone several design changes, however typically, the obverse side of the coin features a portrait of the late Queen Elizabeth II, whilst on the reverse, a segment of the Royal Shield is featured. The Royal Shield is divided into four quarters and each quarter represents various parts of the UK – the English rose, the Scottish thistle, the Welsh leek, and the Irish shamrock.

Small in size, the 20p coin weighs approximately 5 grams and is 21.4 millimetres in diameter. Made of cupro-nickel, the 20p coin is a staple in many of our change purses and is widely recognised as legal tender up to the amount of £10, although it’s often used for small everyday transactions.

What is the undated 20p?

Part of the twenty pence piece’s fascinating history resides in the rare undated 20p. An interesting error that occurred in 2008 saw a number of 20p coins struck without the year. These coins were the first in over 300 years to enter circulation with no date and the issue occurred when a new design was introduced in the same year. When the Tudor rose design was replaced and the shield moved to the other side, the date was mistakenly left off the design.

Undated 20p coins are highly coveted by collectors, especially as the Royal Mint claims that no more than 250,000 undated coins made it into circulation. Some of these faulty twenty pence pieces have been valued at around £50, whilst some have sold on eBay for more than £7,000.

The unique history and rare minting errors on coins are often what makes them so highly sought after amongst collectors. The excitement and thrill of owning a rare and unique coin attracts numismatists and enthusiasts alike. If you’re interested in starting yourself, make sure you read our coin collecting guide for beginners.

 Rare 20p coins

While the twenty pence coin is commonly used for everyday purchases, some collectors look for specific editions or coins with unique characteristics, like the undated 20p. These coins can have a higher value to collectors than their face value. Factors that affect a coin’s collectability and rarity include:

  • Mintage: Coins with lower mintage are often considered more valuable. This is because once the coins have been sold and are no longer produced, the harder they are to obtain.
  • Errors: Coins with production errors, such as misprints or irregularities, can be highly sought after by collectors. Such irregularities occurred in 1992 when two versions of the 20p coin were issued with different sizes of the late Queen’s portrait. It’s believed that the larger head variety of the coin is rarer, as there are limited amounts of these in good condition.
  • Special Editions: Occasionally, commemorative coins or special edition coins are released, and these can have a premium value. Special coins commemorating occasions, people or events often serve as heirlooms or can be collected as part of a set, making them highly coveted by collectors.

Not just for collectors, the twenty pence piece makes for a wonderful keepsake or sentimental gift, and our collection of twenty pence coin jewellery includes handcrafted pieces from genuine 20p coins. Each coin can be carefully personalised to include a special date or year, so you can be sure your 20p coin jewellery is as unique as the occasion you’re purchasing it for.

Whether you’re looking for a twenty pence piece necklace or cufflinks featuring the iconic coin, there’s something unique for every occasion.

Five facts about the twenty pence piece

Now you know the origin of the 20p coin, its value, and rare editions, we’ve put together a list of five interesting facts about the twenty pence coin. Take a look to expand your knowledge and learn something new about this fascinating coin.

  1. The Royal Shield featured on the reverse of the twenty pence coin is also used on the UK’s one pound coin.
  2. Whilst the undated 20p has previously sold for over £7,000, it still legal tender and if you should find one, it still only has a face value of 20p.
  3. 20p coins are legal tender for amounts up to £10 (the equivalent of 50 20p coins). This means you can’t legally pay for anything with more than this many 20p coins.
  4. Like other British coins, the portrait on the 20p changed throughout its circulation, each time to a more mature effigy.
  5. Along with the £2 coin, no 20p coins were produced by The Royal Mint in 2017 as instead, they focused on the introduction of the new £1 coin.

So, there you have it. Five facts about the 20p coin highlighting its rich and unique history amongst the coins within the British currency system.

Whether you’re a collector or simply curious about currency, the twenty pence piece is a fascinating part of numismatic history. Coins like the British twenty pence piece continue to hold a special place in our culture. Whether as a collector’s item or a means of payment, the 20p coin reminds us of the rich history, symbolism, and practicality that can be found in even the smallest denominations of currency.

If you’re intrigued about currency and the different types of coins around the world, why not take a look at our guide on the rarest coins in the world to learn more about some of the most unique coins to ever be created.