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Worth a mint?

If your nan's got some old coins stowed away then they could be worth their weight in gold – or at least silver. Because the sharp rise in the price of silver means that coins that are minted before 1947 – which contain real silver – old shillings, are worth nearly 40 times their face value.

A dealer will offer £1 for a sixpenny bit, while the old shilling coin, which became the 5p piece, is now worth £2.

Coin dealer Chris Perkins, who runs Predecimal.com, a member of the BNTA, said: 'The vast majority of people who come to me have just got average, used coins, not rare ones. But many are still worth more than face value. Pre-1947 silver coins contain real silver and are treated as bullion.

'I buy them and sell them via the jewellery trade and pay according to the silver price at the time. Currently a 1920-1946 silver coin is worth around 40 times its face value so I'll pay around £4 for a florin and £5 for a half crown. And the bullion value of pre-1920s silver coins is almost double that because they are sterling silver. So they are worth selling rather than exchanging for face value at a bank, particularly if you have a few.'

'I try and find out as much as I can about what coins a customer has beforehand, via email," Perkins says. 'If they have a quantity of pre-1947 silver or sufficient volume of copper, I invite them to send the coins by post. And if I find something unexpectedly valuable when they arrive, I will tell the customer and make an offer.'

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