Have you found an old coin with Sir Winston Churchill on one side? These silver-coloured 1965 coins are often found in old coin collections. Several come across The Britannia Coin Company counter every week.
They certainly look unusual but are they worth anything?
Here's what you need to know about 1965 Churchill coins.
Who Was Sir Winston Churchill?
In 2002, the BBC ran a public poll, asking the British public who they thought was the greatest Briton of all time. The winner by a mile was Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965).
As a young man, Churchill joined the British Army, seeing action in the Second Boer War before finding fame as a war correspondent. He was elected an MP in 1900 and was serving as First Lord of the Admiralty on the eve of the First World War, later resigning to join the fighting on the Western Front. After the war he returned to government, acting as Secretary of State for War and Chancellor of the Exchequer.
On the outbreak of the Second World War, Churchill was re-appointed First Lord of the Admiralty, before becoming Prime Minister, charged by King George VI to oversee the British war effort against the Axis powers. We remember Churchill as a victorious wartime leader, inspiring Brits to fight on the beaches for democracy in Europe against the spread of fascism.
After his defeat in the 1945 general election, Churchill wrote several books about the war, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He returned to office in 1951 and resigned in 1955, remaining an MP. His death in 1965 at the age of ninety was followed by a four-day state funeral, attended by representatives from 120 countries, and a national outpouring of grief.
Sir Winston Churchill in 1941 by Yousuf Karsh (CC BY 2.0).
What Are British Crown Coins?
By the time Winston Churchill passed away, the British Crown coin had long ago fallen out of regular circulation.
Crowns trace their history back to a gold coin minted during the reign of King Henry VIII with the first silver versions produced a few decades later. For the next three centuries, Crowns were made from .925 sterling silver. They were large coins, measuring 38 millimetres in diameter, and always featured a portrait of the reigning King or Queen on one side. Often, the 'tails' side featured the royal arms of the United Kingdom.
By the twentieth century, Crowns were only being minted in a new monarch's coronation year as a type of souvenir to remember the occasion. The size of the coins made them suitable for showcasing unique designs. Between 1927 and 1936 a series of limited-edition collectable Crown coins were created with a distinctive wreath pattern, intended as Christmas gifts. Another famous commemorative Crown from this period is the 1935 'Rocking Horse' Crown, so-called for its stylised St George on horseback motif.
Commemorative Crowns were also struck to celebrate the 1951 Festival of Britain and Queen Elizabeth II's 1953 coronation.
Read more: The History Of The British Crown Coin.
What Are 1965 Churchill Coins?
1965 Churchill Crowns were Crown coins made by the UK's official national mint, The Royal Mint, to mark the death of Sir Winston Churchill.
They feature a sombre-looking head and shoulders portrait of Churchill, facing right. He's wearing a 'siren suit' - one-piece overalls, designed to be worn in wartime air-raid shelters, invented and popularised by Churchill. The word 'CHURCHILL' appears to the top right of the coin. It's an unconventional coin portrait with the subject seeming to emerge from the coin's surface.
This design is the work of Croatian-born sculptor Oscar Nemon. He escaped to England in 1938, fleeing the Nazis and went on to sculpt a number of high-profile British figures like Churchill, including a statue in the Members' Lobby of the House of Commons. Nemon had never sculpted a coin before but as one of Churchill's favourite artists, he was the Royal Mint's top choice for the job. Reportedly, Nemon based his coin portrait on a marble bust of the statesman that Queen Elizabeth II had commissioned from him.
'I greatly admire the art of Mr. Oscar Nemon whose prowess in the ancient realm of sculpture has won such remarkable modern appreciation.' — Winston Churchill in 1955
Oscar Nemon with a statue of Churchill destined for London's Guildhall. © Estate of Oscar Nemon (CC BY-SA 4.0).
The new coin was approved by Parliament in March 1965, less than two months after Churchill's death. The first examples were released into circulation in September of that year.
Did You Know? 1965 Churchill Crowns were the first UK coins to feature a real, non-royal person since the time of Oliver Cromwell.
When they were made, Churchill Crowns were technically worth Five Shillings or 25 Pence and they could be spent in shops. However, lots of people saved theirs. That's why we find some examples in excellent, like-new condition. Others are very worn and scratched from rubbing against other coins and rattling around in tins.
Obverse (left) and reverse (right) of a 1965 Churchill Crown: you might find these coins loose or in a special plastic case.
Youthful Portrait Of The Queen
The heads side of Churchill Crown coins features a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by British sculptor Mary Gillick.
It shows the young Queen wearing a crown of laurel leaves, tied at the back of her head with a bow. She faces right, following a long-standing tradition associated with UK coins where the monarch faces the opposite direction to their predecessor.
The writing around the design reads 'ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F · D ·'. That's an abbreviated Latin phrase that means 'Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God Queen, Defender of the Faith'.
While you might find younger-looking portraits of Her Majesty the Queen on the coins in your change you are unlikely to find any featuring Gillick's portrait. That's because British money was overhauled in 1971 when our currency switched to a decimal system. Most Elizabeth II coins issued before then were withdrawn.
Are 1965 Churchill Coins Valuable?
At the time they were made, demand was very high for Churchill Crowns with British and American banks ordering millions of the coins.
19,640,000 1965 Churchill Crowns were produced by The Royal Mint between October 1965 and the summer of 1966.
Crown coins are still technically legal tender with a value today of 25p but you'd be hard-pressed to find a shop or bank that accepts old Churchill coins. Supposedly, you can exchange these coins for goods and services at the Post Office but our local franchise have said they won't accept them. That means your best bet for cashing in Churchill coins is taking them to a reputable coin dealer like The Britannia Coin Company.
Because there were tens of millions produced, Churchill Crowns are not rare. Today you can find them in many antique shops and all over eBay. Because they look quite different to today's money, they often attract attention from new coin collectors and fans of Winston Churchill. Unscrupulous sellers may take advantage of this, offering 1965 Crowns for inflated prices as an unusual rarity.
In reality, they're sort of like Beanie Babies or mugs made for royal weddings: fun to collect but not worth as much as you might think.
We offer Churchill Crowns for £1.99 and that includes UK shipping. Avoid paying more than £1.99 for Churchill Crowns.
What Is The Winston Churchill Coin Made Of?
1965 Churchill Crowns are made of cupronickel: a combination of copper and nickel used to make modern, silver-coloured coins.
Crown coins produced before 1947 were made with real silver but the Churchill Crown - dated 1965 - has a similar composition to the coins you'll find in your change.
Precious metal buyers like our sister company Gold-Traders UK do buy cupronickel coins as scrap metal but the market for this alloy is well below the likes of gold, silver and platinum. Despite how common they are, Churchill Crowns are still more valuable as a collector's coin.
Rare UK Winston Churchill Coins
It's worth noting that there are a few Churchill coins that are more valuable.
In addition to the nineteen million regular Churchill Crowns produced in 1965, a very small number of 'VIP Specimen' coins were also made by The Royal Mint. These special coins feature a high-shine satin finish and were probably given to important people. They remain in the hands of serious coin collectors and can sell for £2,000 or more. It's unlikely that your Churchill Crown is one of these rare VIP versions but if you have one you could be quids in. The presence of the artist's initials on - 'ON' - on the tails side of the coin at the bottom left may identify this rare variant. Beware sellers trying to pass off ordinary Churchill Crowns as Specimens.
There have also been a few other Churchill coins issued by The Royal Mint, all offered in limited numbers:
- In the run-up to the 2012 London Olympics, the Royal Mint issued an official UK £5 coin, showing the statue of Churchill in Parliament Square, made with a proof finish and in silver with colour-printed details. The design was the work of Shane Greeves and the Mint's engraving department
- In 2015 the Mint issued a new Churchill £5 Crown coin to mark 50 years since his death. These collectables featured a close-up portrait by sculptor Mark Richards. You can find these coins in a brilliant uncirculated finish as well as silver proof, silver piedfort proof, gold proof and even a platinum proof edition. Limited edition sets were also available containing a 2015 Churchill Crown, paired with a 1965 coin
- The Royal Mint also produced a related line of precious metal Churchill coins in 2015, using a half-length portrait by Etienne Millner. This range includes £20 brilliant uncirculated silver coins as well as 5oz and 1kg 999 silver pieces, as well as rare 24-carat gold 1/4oz, 5oz and 1kg coins
Many other Churchill coins are available from international and private mints.
Since 2024 marks 150 years since Churchill's birth and 2025 is the 60th anniversary of his death so we might well see new UK Churchill coins in the not-too-distant future.
Browse our full range of Winston Churchill coins online now.
This 2015 Royal Mint set features a new brilliant uncirculated Five Pound coin (bottom) alongside a 1965 Churchill Crown (top).
Sell A Churchill Crown Coin Online
Got commemorative UK Crown coins or other old currency you want to sell? Fill out the form on our Sell Your Coins page, describing your collection, and we'll give you a quick quote. You could get money in your bank fast when you sell to The Britannia Coin Company.
Frequently Asked Questions
The commemorative Crown coins are not made of silver. 1965 Churchill Crowns are made from a cupronickel alloy, similar to the metal used to make the coins in your change today.
1965 Churchill Crowns have a face value today of 25p though you can't spend them in shops or cash them in at the bank. Coin collectors may pay £1-3 for good quality examples.
1965 Churchill coins are not rare as more than 19 million of them were made. Collectors still appreciate the unusual design by Oscar Nemon and may pay £1-2 for these coins.
Churchill Crowns from 1965 are not worth a great deal because they are very common. 19 million were made and most coin dealers will pay around 25p for each example.
1965 Churchill Crowns are denominated at 25p in today's money but you can't spend them in shops. Coin dealers will pay a small amount for these common collectable coins.
Supposedly the Post Office will accept old UK Crown coins like the 1965 Churchill Crown as payment for goods and services but our local branch was unable to accept them.
1965 Churchill coins are technically legal tender with a value of 25p. You might be able to spend these coins in some post offices but, otherwise, you cannot use them.
19,640,000 1965 Churchill Crowns were produced by The Royal Mint between October 1965 and the summer of 1966. Collectors love these coins but they are not rare.
These 1965 coins were bought by collectors to commemorate the death of Sir Winston Churchill. Crown coins are still technically legal tender but shops will not accept them.
Sir Winston Churchill was the first non-royal person to appear on UK money since Oliver Cromwell. Churchill appeared on a 1965 Crown coin designed by Oscar Nemon.
Croatia-born sculptor Oscar Nemon designed the portrait that appears on commemorative UK Crown coins, issued after Sir Winston Churchill’s death in 1965.