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!
Secure the 2019 UK Sherlock Holmes CERTIFIED BU 50p for your collection
As of the Royal Proclamation issued on 14th February, a very exciting United Kingdom £5 coin series has been confirmed for release in 2020.
Many will know him by him M16 codename ‘007’ but the name James Bond is famous worldwide.
007 on coins
The Royal Proclamation confirms there will be three coins in the series.
The reverse of the first coin in the series will show the Bond car from Goldfinger set against the 007 logo with the inscription ‘Bond, James Bond‘.
The second coin in the series will show the Bond car from The Spy Who Loved Me set against part of the 007 logo and the inscription ‘Pay attention 007′.
Finally, the last coin in the series will feature a depiction of James Bond’s torso in a dinner jacket and bow tie set against a part of the 007 logo with the inscription ‘Shaken not stirred’.
Not the first UK Bond coin…
This isn’t the first-time Bond has featured on a UK coin. The world-famous spy made his debut appearance on the A-Z of Great Britain 10ps taking the ‘B’ for ‘Bond’ spot.
The ‘Bond’ 10p is widely considered the most popular of the A-Z 10p coins and currently takes the top spot on the Change Checker A-Z 10p Scarcity Index so we’re certain this new release is going to be a hit with collectors!
At the moment, any further information on this exciting release is strictly top secret but you can fill in our sign-up form below to stay up-to-date with all the latest news about this release.
Stay up-to-date with all the latest Bond £5 news…
Fill in your details below to be kept up-to-date with all the latest news about the 2020 Bond £5 coin.
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*** UPDATE ***
An extra 1.5 million Brexit 50ps have been released into circulation following the 3 million initially released when Britain left to EU.
The Treasury has confirmed the number of Brexit 50p coins will increase to 10 million by the end of the year to satisfy collector demand.
On the 31st January 2020 the United Kingdom left the European Union – over three and half years after the Vote.
This departure is possibly one of the most historically significant events to happen in modern history, so we know collectors will be extremely excited to hear a brand new United Kingdom coin has been issued to commemorate the occasion.
The 2020 UK Brexit 50p has been officially released today and is the only official United Kingdom coin to commemorate the occasion.
Although the design had been rumoured some time ago, the final design features the inscription ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations‘ and the all-important date – 31st January 2020 – underneath.
However, this brand new 50p isn’t the only coin to have been issued to documents Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
In this blog, we take a look back at the coins which tell the story of the 43 year long partnership between the UK and the EU.
1973 European Economic Community 50p
In 1973, after over a decade of debate and discussion, Britain was finally successful in joining the EU – then known as the European Economic Community (EEC).
To mark such a ground-breaking partnership, The Royal Mint issued the FIRST-EVER commemorative 50p!
It’s hard to believe there was a time when commemorative 50p coins weren’t commonplace, but this 1973 coin was the very first of its kind!
The design features nine hands clasping each other in a circle, symbolising the nine member state of the community.
As the first-ever commemorative 50p, it’s unsurprising this release is considered hugely significant in British history, numismatic history, and is a staple of any UK coin collection.
The 1973 EEC 50p had a circulating mintage of 89,755,000.
1992/3 European Council Presidency 50p
In 1992/3 the UK celebrated its presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the completion of the Single Market.
The intricate design of this 50p, by Mary Milner Dickens (who later designed the 2000 Libraries and the 2003 Suffragettes 50ps) shows a conference table seen from above, around which are the 12 chairs for the Council of Ministers.
However, what makes this 50p particularly special and sought-after by collectors is not the design, but the mintage.
This 1992/3 European Community Presidency 50p had a circulating mintage of JUST 109,000! It is the rarest UK 50p to EVER enter circulation.
When you consider the Kew Gardens is the rarest 50p currently in circulation and has a mintage of 210,000 you start to grasp how small the mintage for this 50p really is!
Any Change Checker who is lucky enough to have this coin in their collection must be incredibly pleased!
1998 UK Entry to the EEC 25th Anniversary 50p
In 1998 a new United Kingdom 50p was issued to commemorate 25 years since the UK joined the EEC.
Remarkably, this European-Union-inspired 50p coin is the subject of another numismatic first – the first ‘new sized’ commemorative 50p to be issued following the specification change in 1997.
The old larger coins were removed from circulation and it’s this new sized 50p that has featured some of our most iconic coin designs and has become the most collected coin in the world!
Designed by John Mills (designer of the much-loved 1994 D-Day 50p), the reverse of this coin shows 12 stars to represent the 12 ministers and had a circulating mintage of 5,043,000.
And there we have it! The UK’s relationship with the EU as told by coins!
It’s incredible to look back at some of the most ground-breaking 50p issues that are tied to this 47 year relationship.
Do you have any of these coins in your collection? Let us know in the comments below!
Brand new UK Brexit 50p – Secure yours today
As you would expect with a coin this historic the brand new UK Brexit 50p has been struck to superior Brilliant Uncirculated quality and protectively encapsulated in official Change Checker packaging to preserve its quality forever.