In recent years, the 50 pence piece has become the most collected coin in the world.
But here at Change Checker, we get asked a lot about the older specification 50p coins… “How many old 50ps are there to collect? How rare are my old 50ps? Can I still find these coins in circulation?” are just a few of the questions frequently asked.
So, we’ve put together a guide answering your questions and giving you the key facts we think you need to know about these out-of-circulation coins!
What are old specification 50ps?
The 50p emerged in 1969 as the first coin in the new decimal series.
It was also the world’s first seven-sided coin and has since become the most collected coin in the country!
In 1997, the specification for the 50p changed to the size and feel we’re familiar with today.
But, between 1969-1997, there were five 50p coins issued in these older specifications. But what was different about these coins?
Spot the difference
|Pre-1997 (old specification)||1998 onwards (new specification)|
| Obverse |
|1969-1985 – 2nd Portrait, Arnold Machin |
1985-1997 – 3rd Portrait, Raphael Maklouf
|1998-2015 – 4th Portrait, Ian Rank-Broadley |
2015-onwards – 5th Portrait, Jody Clark
As you can see, despite the 50p retaining the same metal composition, the older specification was much bigger and heavier than the coin we’re used to today – imagine carrying around a bundle of those in your pockets!
These coins were removed from circulation when the new specifications were introduced, so you won’t come across these in your change.
What’s more, shop keepers and banks won’t accept these as legal tender, so we imagine a lot of these will have been kept by collectors for their private collections!
So, how many of these coins were issued? Let’s take a look at our Pre-1997 50p Mintage Chart and see..
You might have spotted the top coin in our chart has a mintage of JUST 109,000! Let’s take a look at each of these coins in closer detail to get the full story..
1969 Britannia New Pence
- Year of Issue: 1969-1981
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
- Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
- Mintage: 594,917,500
The New Pence 50p was the first 50p coin ever issued and it featured Christopher Ironside’s iconic Britannia design.
Britannia first appeared on UK coinage in 1672 and since then has always been present on at least one denomination.
With a mintage of 594,917,500 is the most common of the pre-1997 50p designs, which is hardly surprising as it was the definitive 50p design between 1969-1981.
Despite it’s considerably high circulating mintage, this coin is still considered collectible as it’s no longer in circulation.
1973 Entry to the EEC 50p
- Year of Issue: 1973
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
- Reverse Designer: David Wynne
- Mintage: 89,775,000
This coin was issued to celebrate the UK’s entry to the EU (then called the European Economic Council or the EEC).
With a mintage of 89,775,000 it is less common that the definitive design but not the rarest out there!
It is still incredibly sought-after by collectors though as this was the FIRST-EVER commemorative 50p!
1982 Britannia Fifty Pence
- Year of Issue: 1982/83/85
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin (1982/82) Raphael Maklouf (1985)
- Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
- Mintage: 114,819,007
In 1982 the ‘New Pence’ in the design was replaced with ‘Fifty Pence’ as the design was no longer considered new.
Although still the definitive design, this coin was only issued in 1982, 1983 and 1985 and featured two different portraits of Her Majesty on the obverse! Machin in ’82 and ’83 and the new Maklouf portrait in ’85.
With a mintage of 114,819,007, it’s the second most-common of the Pre-1997 50ps.
1992/93 EC Presidency 50p
- Year of Issue: 1992/93
- Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
- Reverse Designer: Mary Milner
- Mintage: 109,000
Designed by Mary Milner, this 50p celebrates the UK’s presidency of the European Council of Ministers.
Excitingly, this 50p is the RAREST ever UK 50p to enter circulation. With a mintage of just 109,000 it’s even rarer than the sought-after Kew Gardens 50p which has a mintage of 210,000.
As this coin is no longer in circulation AND has the lowest ever UK 50p circulating mintage, it’s incredibly sought-after by collectors and if you’re lucky enough to have one in your collection, you should be extremely pleased!
1994 D-Day Landings 50p
- Year of Issue: 1994
- Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
- Reverse Designer: John Mills
- Mintage: 6,705,520
Issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, this was the final 50p issued in the older specifications.
Interestingly, this has been voted Change Checkers ‘Favourite Ever’ 50p!
With a mintage of 6,705,520 it is the second rarest of the pre-1997 50p coins.
So hopefully our guide to the Pre-1997 50p coins will help you along the way to expanding your collection!
What’s most exciting about all five of these coins is that now they’re out of circulation, they are all considered particularly sought-after by collectors!
Do you have any of these coins in your collection already? Let us know in the comments below!
Own the UK’s FIRST-EVER Commemorative 50p
Victory in Europe Day – more commonly known as VE Day – is celebrated across Europe and America as the official end of the Second World War.
Following the Allies’ acceptance of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender on the 8th May 1945, the war had finally come to a close after a long five years.
This year marks a particularly poignant anniversary as we celebrate 75 years since VE Day. Many celebrations had been scheduled to mark this joyous occasion, including rescheduling the Early May Bank Holiday to the 8th.
Although, sadly, many of these celebrations have now been cancelled this does not detract from the significance of this historic anniversary.
To mark this momentous occasion, The Royal Mint have issued a brand new £2 coin, commemorating 75 years since VE Day.
So, we thought we’d take this opportunity to look a closer look at this brand new £2 and the other UK coins which tell the story of Britain’s warfare history.
2020 Victory in Europe £2
Issued by The Royal Mint, the brand new 2020 VE Day £2 features a woman holding a newspaper aloft in a crowd of celebrating people, set against a backdrop of the word VICTORY.
The edge inscription reads ‘JUST TRIUMPH AND PROUD SORROW’.
The coin, designed by Dominuqe Evans, has been available as part of the 2020 Annual Coin set since January, however has just been released for individual sale.
The unique design and poignant anniversary year makes us think this brand new release is certain to be popular with collectors, so if you want to get your hands on one, just click here.
1995 Dove £2
This old-style £2 was issued in 1995 to mark 50 years since the end of the Second World War.
The reverse design, by John Mills, features a dove as a symbol of peace since the end of the war. The edge inscription reads ‘1945 IN PEACE GOODWILL 1995’, highlighting fifty years since the truce.
One of only seven commemorative £2 coins to be issued in the older specifications before the change in 1997, the Dove £2 has a mintage of 4,394,566 – the third highest of the seven.
2005 St. Paul’s Cathedral £2
In 2005, The Royal Mint issued a second £2 in the new bi-metallic specifications to commemorate 60 years since the end of the war.
Interestingly, the reverse design depicts St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is because the cathedral was one of only a few structures which survived the Blitz to become a great symbol of hope to a war-torn nation.
The edge inscription reads ‘IN VICTORY: MAGNAMITY, IN PEACE: GOODWILL’ which is part of the famous maxim that prefaces Churchill’s history of the Second World War.
This coin has a staggeringly high mintage of 10,191,000, meaning it ranks as ‘Common’ on the Change Checker Scarcity Index.
2015 Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain was an intense air battle fought mainly throughout the summer of 1940 between Germany and Britain.
To commemorate 75 years since the great battle, The Royal Mint issued a commemorative 50p.
Designed by sculptor Gary Breeze, this coin quickly gained interest from collectors due to the three different obverses when it was initially minted. You can find out more about that here.
This coin was also re-issued in 2019 as part of the 50th Anniversary of the 50p celebrations in the Military History 50p Collection.
2019 D-Day £2
Last year, The Royal Mint issued a £2 coin commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history.
The invasion took place on the 6th June 1944 and began the liberation of German occupied France and laid the foundations for the Allied Victory.
Initially issued as part of the 2019 Annual Coin Set, the D-Day £2 was favoured among collectors last year for its innovative design by Stephen Taylor.
The reverse features arrows pointing across the English Channel to Normandy; each arrow has one of the five code-names for the beaches where Allied Troops landed: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword.
Released last year, this £2 coin has not entered general circulation yet.
And there we have it! It’s fair to say the UK has a great history of celebrating important warfare anniversaries on our coinage, and they certainly are popular with our collectors!
Do you have a favourite warfare anniversary coin? Let us know in the comments below!
Secure the BRAND NEW UK VE Day £2 Coin
On this day, 265 years ago, Samuel Johnson’s English Dictionary was officially published.
The dictionary is considered to be one of the most influential pieces of scholarship in the history of the English Language.
So influential in fact, it was used by famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde. The dictionary took eight years to compile and listed 40,000 words – quite the achievement!
In 2005, The Royal Mint honoured Johnson’s gruelling work with the ‘Dictionary’ 50p, issued to mark the 250th anniversary of its publication.
To celebrate 15 years since the release of this coin, we thought we would take the opportunity to explore the UK coins celebrating great British authors who have used Johnson’s dictionary.
Now, as many Change Checkers will already know, there’s been no shortage of great authors celebrated on our coinage – from classic children’s authors like Beatrix Potter and Julia Donaldson, to Victorian greats like Charles Dickens and Conan Doyle – there’s a big selection of coins to choose from!
To keep it simple, we’ve selected our Top Five below…
#5 2020 William Wordsworth £5
A brand new coin creeping in here in 5th place. This coin was issued in March of 2020 to celebrate 250 years since the birth of the famous poet and this is the first time Wordsworth has been celebrated on a UK coin.
Wordsworth is considered one of the most popular poets to have written in the English language, gaining fame during the beginning of the English Romantic period.
Designed by David Lawrence, the reverse features lines taken from one of Wordsworth’s most celebrated poems, ‘Tintern Abbey’.
#4 Beatrix Potter Series
It just wouldn’t be a Change Checker coin list without the Beatrix Potter 50p series making an appearance – coming in 4th place here!
Beatrix Potter’s book ‘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.
The 50p designs by Emma Noble have been taken straight from the illustrations of the original books and started an unprecedented collecting phenomenon. The series continued throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018 with a standalone Peter Rabbit 50p being issued in 2019 and 2020 as well.
#3 2012 Charles Dickens £2
A list of great authors wouldn’t be complete without Charles Dickens, and a list of great coins wouldn’t be complete without the Charles Dickens £2!
Dickens’ enchanting stories, vivid characters, and depiction of Victorian life are widely acknowledged across the world by critics and scholars alike and his novels and short stories continue to be widely popular to this day.
The reverse design of this £2 coin by Matthew Dent features Dickens’ recognisable profile crafted from the titles of his most famous works.
This coin had a circulating mintage of 8,190,000 and is one of my personal favourites!
#2 2020 Agatha Christie £2
First seen as part of the 2020 Annual Coin Set, the 2020 Agatha Christie £2 coin takes our 2nd place!
Issued to mark the 100th anniversary of Dame Agatha Christie’s genre-defining murder mysteries, the author of 66 detective novels and 150 short stories, Agatha Christie has justly earned the title of the ‘Queen of Crime’.
The reverse design of this coin, by David Lawrence, depicts a jigsaw puzzle with a question mark, representing the mystery behind her stories.
We are yet to find out if this coin will be issued for general circulation, but if it is we’re certain Change Checkers will be rushing to find it
#1 2019 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p
Our personal favourite, and taking the #1 spot, the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 50p! And for us, there really could be no other winner..
Conon Doyle 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.
This coin only went into circulation in 2019 so we’re yet to hear what the mintage figure is for this special 50p but we’re certain any Change Checker lucky enough to have come across this in their change will be keeping tight hold of it!
So there we have it! Britain’s best authors celebrated on UK coinage! We’ve shared our Top Five, now what are yours? Let us know in the comments below!