We carry and collect coins in our purses and wallets without much thought but can we actually spend all of them in a shop?

Although we might be moving to a cashless world, many Brits still keep spare change on hand just in case.

You never know when you need it to unlock a supermarket trolley or access a public loo in an emergency.

However, you might be surprised to learn that not all coins are legal tender and can't be used as currency in exchange for goods and services.

Border Telegraph: For further guidance, you can also see the full guidelines for Legal Tender via the Royal Mint's website. ( Getty Images)For further guidance, you can also see the full guidelines for Legal Tender via the Royal Mint's website. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

Numismatist Peter Hutchison, a specialist from Hattons of London, has answered some of the biggest questions about the coins that could be in your pocket right now.

For further guidance, you can also see the full guidelines for Legal Tender via the Royal Mint's website.

What is the difference between the coins in my wallet and collector editions such as Proof coins?

"The type of loose change we use day-to-day are known as circulation coins, the Hattons of London specialist explained.

"They are only struck once, meaning the coin die - the metal stamp used to transfer the design onto the blank coin - is only pressed onto the metal blank on one occasion.

"Thousands of coins are minted per hour at high speed and high pressure meaning the quality of the strike is as much about speed and efficiency as it is the quality of the coin itself."  

The numismatist also explained that a different and 'intricate' process is used to create collectors' editions known as ‘proof’ quality.

He added: "Usually only around 50 coins can be produced per hour, the coin dies are hand finished and air-cleaned between each strike and the coins are usually passed through the minting process by hand, rather than on a conveyor belt.

"This allows the quality of the coin to be checked at each and every stage. These coins can be struck up to six times, and always in a dust-free environment.

"Unlike circulating coins, proof coins will have an unblemished mirror finish with every intricate detail visible".

Can I spend commemorative coins in a shop and do shops have to accept them?

Border Telegraph: Here's whether you can spend your commemorative coins in a shop. ( Getty Images)Here's whether you can spend your commemorative coins in a shop. ( Getty Images) (Image: Getty Images)

Commemorative coins belong to a group of coins known as Non-Circulating Legal Tender (NCLT).

They are intended to be collector editions and not intended to be used in circulation or to be spent in a shop, the expert explained.

For instance, while the Royal Mint's popular silver commemorative coins may be legal tender, shops and banks do not have to accept the coins.

What can I do with commemorative coins?

Peter continued: "You may wonder, why bother making these coins if they aren’t going to circulate?

"Well, even though you can’t use them in the supermarket, as coins, they offer the buyer other benefits.

"Any coin produced as Legal Tender, whether circulating or not, must adhere to strict standards of weight, purity and fineness.

"If the coins carry the portrait of the British monarch they must pass through various approvals that ensure the theme and design is in good taste.

"So it’s about the guarantees you get when you buy a legal tender coin, even if it’s not going to circulate."