The new Paddington Bear 50p coins which came into circulation just this week are already up for sale on sites such as eBay for as much as £1,000.
The 50p coins, featuring the much-loved children’s character, went into the tills at the Royal Mint Experience near Cardiff last week and are gradually being rolled out nationwide. One coin features the iconic bear wearing his famous duffle coat and hat as he stands outside the Tower of London, while the other shows Paddington Bear tipping his hat as he stands in front of St Paul’s Cathedral.
However, some collectors hoping to cash in on the popularity of the fictional bear have already put the coins up for sale with an asking price of £1,000. Meanwhile, another coin listed on the site already has 22 bids and a current selling price of £410, with two days left to go on the auction.
Robert Murray of Robert Murray Stamp Shop in Edinburgh, said that the popular 50p releases had sparked hundreds of calls from members of the public believing they had found a rare and valuable coin in their change.
He said: "We get hundreds of phone calls about the 50p coins. Most are because people are misinformed about what these coins are actually worth.
"There is nothing to stop anyone taking any coin out of their pocket and listing it for whatever price they like. Then if you see these coins for sale on websites such as eBay for £1,000 and then another for £800, it gives a validity to the price, but in a lot of cases, the seller is just taking a punt and hoping they might get a lot of money for it."
He added that the special edition coins had forged a new generation of coin collectors.
He said: "There are a lot of people who specifically collect these 50ps and have jars of them at home. It is nice because it has got a lot of people into collecting coins who then realise they can pick up a Roman coin or a nice Victorian coin for just a few pounds."
As well as ordinary coins which will appear in normal change, the Royal Mint also is selling some for £10 in "brilliant uncirculated" condition. Brilliant uncirculated coins are of a higher standard than circulating coins, and the machines used to strike these coins are both polished and finished by hand.
There are also 25,000 silver proof editions available for £65 - which feature Paddington's famous blue duffle coat and red hat in their bright colours - and 600 gold proof editions for £850.
The coins for sale on eBay, however, are the basic 50p coins put into ordinary circulation.
A spokeswoman for the Royal Mint said: "Coin collectors can get their paws on a wide range of Paddington coins directly from The Royal Mint, and we recommend they check our website for the retail price of commemorative coins.
"The Brilliant Uncirculated Paddington 50p are available from £10, and we also offer limited edition Silver Proof coins which capture the vivid blue and vibrant reds of Paddington’s famous duffle coat and hat. The Paddington 50p coin has also entered general circulation, so keep an eye out for one in your change."
At the launch of the new coins, the Royal Mint described Paddington - created by author Michael Bond in a series of books published between 1958 and 2018 - as "a massive part of British popular culture". Paddington has also been the eponymous hero of two major films for children in recent years.
Last year also saw two new Paddington 50p coins going into circulation: one featuring Paddington waving a flag outside Buckingham Palace and the other showing the bear sitting on a suitcase at Paddington train station.