Celebrating World Book Day on Britain’s Best Loved Coins

World Book Day is recognised across the globe as an opportunity to celebrate great books and authors. But more excitingly for Change Checkers, it’s an opportunity to take a look at which of these great books and authors have been commemorated on UK coins!

In recent years, we’ve seen some classic British books and authors celebrated on UK coinage, from Jane Austen to Julia Donaldson’s much-loved Gruffalo. Take a look below to find out what these coins are and where their designs came from.

Beatrix Potter 50p Series

Beatrix Potter 50p series Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit has sold some 150 million copies since its release in 1903. The much-loved children’s character was initially featured on a 50p coin in 2016.

All 13 Beatrix Potter 50ps issued from 2016-2018

First issued as a series of five coins featuring Peter Rabbit and his friends, the 50ps designs by Emma Noble, were taken straight from the illustrations of the original books. These 50p coins started an unprecedented collecting phenomenon and have been so hugely popular the series has been continued throughout 2017 and 2018 with the release of a further eight 50p coins.

To the delight of collectors, a stand-alone Peter Rabbit 50p was issued in collector’s quality for 2019. But the question on everyone’s lips is, will we see any more Beatrix Potter coins this year?

The 2019 Peter Rabbit 50p

Shakespeare £2 Set

Shakespeare £2 set In the 400 years since his death, William Shakespeare has become widely regarded as the greatest writer in British history and the world best dramatist. In 2016 The Royal Mint struck three official £2 coins in honour of the playwright – a first for the UK. Each coin celebrates an aspects of Shakespeare’s famous work, tragedies, comedies and histories, all designed by John Bergdahl.

The three Shakespeare £2 coins issued in 2016

Jane Austen £2

Jane Austen £2 It might come as a surprise to some collectors that it was only after Austen’s death in 1817 that her works were sent out to print. In 2017 The Royal Mint issued a £2 coin to commemorate 200 years since her death; the reverse design, by Dominique Evans, features a portrait of Austen herself and was approved by leading Jane Austen Academic, Professor John Mullan.

2017 Jane Austen £2

Frankenstein £2

Frankenstein £2 Mary Shelley’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ is widely regarded as the first science-fiction novel. To celebrate 200 years since publication, The Royal Mint issued the Frankenstein £2 coin in 2018. The design, by Royal Mint designer Thomas T. Docherty, portrays ECG monitor style wording of ‘Frankenstein’. The coin also features the edge lettering ‘A SPARK OF BEING’ which is a quote taken from the novel.

2018 Frankenstein £2

Paddington Bear 50ps

Paddington Bear 50ps Struck to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the classic book, two Paddington Bear 50p coins were issued in 2018. The design on each coin is derived from the modern film adaptation of the book and shows the much-loved bear at Paddington Station and at Buckingham Palace. Collectors and Paddington fans alike have been thrilled with the detail on the coins, designed by David Knapton, from Paddington’s famous duffle coat to the label around his neck that reads ‘Please look after this Bear, thank you.’

2 Paddington Bear 2018 50ps

Excitingly, a further two Paddington 50ps were released in 2019Paddington at the Tower and Paddington at St Paul’s Cathedral. Will we be lucky enough to see this loveable bear’s London adventures continue in 2020?

2 Paddington Bear 2019 50ps

The Snowman 50p

The Snowman 50p To celebrate 40 years of Raymond Briggs’ classic tale, The Royal Mint issued this particularly special, festive commemorative Snowman 50p in November of 2018. Briggs’ characters are brought to life by designer Natasha Ratcliffe as the boy and the snowman soar through the night sky together. The design was approved by Robin Shaw, assistant director of The Snowman and The Snowdog animation, to ensure the detail was perfect.

2018 The Snowman 50p

But the Christmas cheer didn’t stop there, as in 2019 a second Snowman 50p was released, designed by Snowman Enterprises themselves to capture the Snowman and James in a wonderful snowy scene. Could their story continue with another Christmas 50p in 2020?

2019 The Snowman 50p

The Nutcracker £5

The Nutcracker £5 The Nutcracker story is renowned, and just like coins, it has a long history with Christmas. This £5 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate Christmas 2018; the reverse design by Harry Brockway shows an enchanted Christmas Nutcracker scene. £5 coins are reserved for the most important Royal and Historical anniversaries, which shows the significance of this Nutcracker £5.

2018 Nutcracker £2

The Gruffalo 50p

The Gruffalo 50p Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo was first published in 1999 and to celebrate 20 years of the world’s best-loved monster, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p, featuring The Gruffalo. The reverse image was designed by Magic Light Pictures themselves and features The Gruffalo as seen in the modern film adaptation. The Gruffalo 50p has seen remarkable popularity since its release and is proving a firm favourite with collectors.

2019 The Gruffalo 50p

And so collectors were unsurprisingly overjoyed when they heard the news that a second Gruffalo 50p would be released in 2019. This coins features the Gruffalo and Mouse from Julia Donaldson’s bedtime classic and makes for the perfect pair with the original Gruffalo coin released earlier that year.

2019 The Gruffalo and Mouse 50p

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p – Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the man who revolutionised the crime genre with his creation of one Britain’s best-loved detectives, Sherlock Holmes™. To mark the 160th anniversary of Doyle’s birth, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p coin paying homage to the author’s legendary works. The reverse has been designed by Stephen Raw and features a silhouette of Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe, surrounded by a few of the most-famous Holmes story titles.

2019 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p

It’s hard to believe we’ve had all these coin releases celebrating British authors and stories in just the last few years.

What authors and books would you like to see on UK coins in future? Let us know below and comment on what your favourite author, story and coin is!

You can now secure some of Britain’s Best Loved Coins featuring your favourite authors and book characters in Brilliant Uncirculated condition.

Click here to add the coins to your collection


  1. Les bridge on March 21, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I have a two pound single coloured gold coin commemorating trecentenery of bill of rights 1689-1989 is it valuable?

    • Rachel Hooper on March 25, 2019 at 9:51 am

      Hi Les, the Bill of Rights is a great coin. You can find out more about it here: https://www.changechecker.org/coin/100/pre-1997-2pound-Bill-of-Rights.aspx We don’t offer valuations, but you can check the sold listings on eBay to get an idea for how much people are currently willing to pay for the coin on the secondary market.

  2. jean on March 8, 2019 at 4:05 am

    Hi, I too found latest article informative & would like to nominate Agatha Christie & although I love all her stories, may I suggest The Mousetrap on a coin ( even though it’s play)

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 11, 2019 at 8:47 am

      Hi Jean, so pleased you found the article informative. Great suggestions – it would certainly be interesting to see a play commemorated on a coin, we did have the Shakespeare £2 coins for Comedies, Histories and Tragedies so it’s not completely unheard of!

  3. Rob on March 8, 2019 at 1:09 am

    Great article! I believe that 2019 is the centenary of the first appearances of two great fictional characters – Just William (Richmal Crompton) and Jeeves (P G Wodehouse). A centenary would have made a much neater anniversary than the 160 years of Wedgwood! However, much as I’d love to see William and Jeeves on a couple of coins, I think the Royal Mint is already issuing too many commemoratives! Next year is the bicentenary of the publication of ‘Ivanhoe’ by Sir Walter Scott, one of the best-loved novels in the English language, so perhaps that could feature on a coin?

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 11, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Hi Rob, these are really interesting suggestions – you’re right in saying the Centenary year would certainly have made good commemorative coins!

  4. Rodney Turner on March 7, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    No Sherlock Holmes

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 11, 2019 at 8:44 am

      Hi Rodney, indeed Sherlock Holmes will feature on the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p to be released later this year! We’re all very excited for it!

  5. Christine Murphy on March 7, 2019 at 4:10 pm

    There has also been the Charles Dickens and Robert Burns £2 coins.

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 11, 2019 at 8:45 am

      Hi Christine, these are really good additions to the blog! It’s hard to believe so many authors have been commemorated on coins.

  6. Martin pugh on March 7, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Great article, most informative, good job.

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 7, 2019 at 3:14 pm

      Hi Martin, thanks – pleased you enjoyed it!

  7. Nigel Caton on March 7, 2019 at 8:48 am

    Hi There I think Beatrix Potter dies in 1943 so I think that 2016 could not be the 250th anniversary of her ?

    • Kimberly Jarrad on March 7, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Hi Nigel, great spot – we’ve updated now!