Rare Falkland Islands penguin 50p can sell for more than £100

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P-p-p-pick up a penguin… it could make you some money: The rare Falkland Islands 50p that can sell for more than £100

  • In 2017 the Falkland Islands created four 50p coins featuring penguins
  • All four species were supposed to be native to the islands
  • However, a minting error meant 3,200 coins were created with the wrong species of penguin on it, and these now sell for a lot of money online 

Nothing helps a coin’s value quite like it being one of a rare batch with a minting error, but you’d need a keen eye for penguins to spot the mistake that means this 50p can sell for three figures online. 

In 2017, the Falkland Islands created four commemorative 50p coins featuring four species of penguin that call the South Atlantic archipelago home. 

The Falklands, a British overseas territory which uses a variant of sterling, is known in some quarters as the penguin capital of the world, with as many as a million of the flightless birds residing there.

Except some of those 50p coins managed to accidentally feature a type of penguin that the Falklands doesn’t typically play host to and one has sold for almost £114 on eBay.

In 2017, the Falkland Islands created four commemorative 50p coins featuring species of penguin that were native to the islands. One of these species is the Rockhopper Penguin

In 2017, the Falkland Islands created four commemorative 50p coins featuring species of penguin that were native to the islands. One of these species is the Rockhopper Penguin

The coins were purely commemorative – they cannot be spent either in the Falklands or Britain – and were  actually produced in the UK 

The four penguin species on the coins were the King, the Gentoo, the Magellanic and the Rockhopper, and 7,500 special 50p pieces featuring each species would be minted – and sold for £13 each.

However, there was a mix-up. There are two species of Rockhopper; the Northern Rockhopper and the Southern Rockhopper. 

Only the latter is native to the Falkland Islands, with the Northern variety only spotted there a few times.

The Northern Rockhopper instead is commonly found nearly 4,000 kilometers away on the volcanic islands of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Saint Helena is best known for being the spot where Napoleon Bonaparte spent the last six years of his life after being exiled by the British in 1815. 

The Northern Rockhopper is larger than its Southern counterpart, and has longer feathers on its head. It's been spotted on the Falkland Islands a few times, but it's not considered native

The Southern Rockhopper is smaller, and has far shorter crest feathers

In a mix up the wrong species of Rockhopper, the Northern Rockhopper (left), was put on the coin, rather than the Southern Rockhopper

Only Southern Rockhopper penguins are native to the Falkland Islands, while Northern Rockhopper penguins are ommonly found 4,000 kilometres away on the volcanic islands of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (the red marker on the map)

Only Southern Rockhopper penguins are native to the Falkland Islands, while Northern Rockhopper penguins are ommonly found 4,000 kilometres away on the volcanic islands of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (the red marker on the map)

A blunder meant that the 50p coin supposed to show off one of the species of penguins that calls the Falkland Islands home, instead displayed a penguin that mainly lived 4,000 kilometres away.

You can tell the difference by looking at the length of the two subspecies’ crest feathers. 

The Northern Rockhopper has far longer feathers, while the variety native to the Falklands has far shorter feathers.

The latter are also a bit smaller. 

The King Penguin is the second-largest species of penguin in the world after the Emperor Penguin

The Magellanic and Gentoo Penguin 50p coins aren't deemed particularly valuable by collectors. They only tend to sell for around their retail price of £13

As well as the Rockhopper 50p, other penguins to be displayed on a coin in 2017 by the Pobjoy Mint – a private company in Surrey – include the King Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Gentoo Penguin

Nearly half of the batch had been minted by the time the mistake was discovered and production halted, meaning that 3,200 of these coins were made.

The correct coin was issued following the error, and even that still sells for nearly £30. 

The other coins; like ones featuring the Magellanic Penguin and Gentoo Penguin, sell on eBay for around their retail price of £13, suggesting that scarcity isn’t always everything.

All four of the 2017 50p coins released were minted just 7,500 times. This makes them really rare, but because they are uncirculated they will likely sell for less as they can be bought

All four of the 2017 50p coins released were minted just 7,500 times. This makes them really rare, but because they are uncirculated they will likely sell for less as they can be bought

A mintage of 7,500 is still incredibly rare, error or not. 

For comparison’s sake the Kew Gardens 50p, considered the most valuable UK circulated coin, was minted 210,000 times.

And that means that if you find yourself with one of the rare Northern Rockhopper error coins, you could make some money.

Looking at Amazon, a number of the 50p coins are being listed for £90 or more, with some listed for as much as £122. Though, of course, this doesn’t suggest anyone is willing to pay that much for them.

However there is evidence on eBay that collectors are willing to cough up the cash. 

A number of them have sold for upwards of £87, including several examples of coins selling in the £90 range, and one even sold for £113.95.

The Rockhopper error coin was minted 3,200 times, making it incredibly rare. No wonder it sells for upwards of £85 online

The Rockhopper error coin was minted 3,200 times, making it incredibly rare. No wonder it sells for upwards of £85 online

While the vast majority of those sold on eBay sell for amounts in the £90 range, there have been examples of the 50p selling for more than £100 on eBay

While the vast majority of those sold on eBay sell for amounts in the £90 range, there have been examples of the 50p selling for more than £100 on eBay

That sale would’ve meant that if the seller had purchased it from the Pobjoy Mint, a private manufacturer based in Surrey, for its list price of around £13 back when it was unknown that it had been made in error, they would have made slightly more than £100.

That’s a cool profit right there. 

So cool that it’d probably suit a penguin, whatever species of Rockhopper it might be.

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