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
It’s time for your latest Scarcity Index update, where we’ll reveal the UK’s most sought-after circulation coins of the last three months! And it’s all change for the A-Z 10ps, as NHS establishes itself in top spot…
You can use the updated A-Z 10p, 50p and £2 indexes below to discover how sought-after the coins in your collection really are.
This information has been compiled using data from the Change Checker Swap Centre and presented in the easy to use indexes below, with arrows to signify how many places up or down a coin has moved since the last Scarcity Index.
A-Z 10p Scarcity Index
Well we really have seen quite a mix up for the latest A-Z 10p Scarcity Index update, with a new leader taking top spot!
B for Bond has not only been knocked off the top spot, but has actually dropped 11 places down towards the middle of the pack.
In its place we have a very worthy winner and it comes as no surprise that the most sought-after A-Z 10p is currently N for NHS. Now, more than ever, the NHS is playing a vital role to keep us safe and well during the coronavirus pandemic and so it seems only fitting that this 10p has grown in popularity. Acting as a reminder of the strength, hope and support of not only our National Health Service, but the British people as a whole during this unpreceded time in history.
Other key movers to keep an eye on are the F for Fish and Chips and M for Mackintosh 10ps, moving up the index 11 and 9 places respectively.
Regardless of where they feature on the above index, if you have any of the A-Z 10ps in your collection you should consider yourself lucky, as they are particularly hard to come by in circulation and each design has a relatively low mintage (just 220,000 of each design released in 2018 and 2.1 million overall in 2019).
50p Scarcity Index
The 50p Scarcity Index has remained fairly stable at the top and bottom, with Kew Gardens holding strong in the top spot, a whole 12 points ahead of the second scarcest 50p in circulation, the Olympic Football.
There’s been a bit of a shuffle around with the Olympic 50ps, with Wheelchair Rugby moving up the index by 11 places! Although it’s definitely worth noting that all of the Olympic 50ps are particularly sought-after due to their low mintage figures and an estimated 75% have been removed from circulation by collectors, making them even harder to get hold of.
Perhaps we’ll see the popularity of these coins increase further next year when the Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo, following their postponement this year.
Another couple of sought-after 50ps we’ve been keeping our eyes on are the 2018 Peter Rabbit and Flopsy Bunny coins. Since making an appearance on the index for the first time towards the end of last year, they’ve since been creeping their way up and up. In this update, Peter Rabbit has moved up by 3 places and Flopsy Bunny by 4! As the two rarest Beatrix Potter 50ps in circulation, it’s no wonder these coins are so sought-after, but are you lucky enough to have them in your collection?
£2 Scarcity Index
The top five coins on the £2 index remain strong, with the Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland keeping its position at the top, 18 points above the second most sought-after £2 coin in circulation.
We’ve seen little activity throughout the top half of the index, with only a few coins shuffling one or two places.
However there’s been a bit more movement in the second half of the index, with the key coin to watch being the 60th Anniversary of the End of World War Two (commonly known as St Paul’s Cathedral) £2. This coin has moved up the index by 4 places and the increased popularity could possibly be due to the significant anniversary year, as 2020 marks 75 years since the end of World War Two.
We’re yet to see any new £2 coins in our change since demand has been so low, although I’m sure I speak for many collectors when I say we eagerly anticipate the release of new £2’s into circulation, hopefully in the near future.
How your Scarcity Index works
Generally collectors have had to rely upon mintage figures to identify the scarcest coins. But they only tell part of the story. Trying to find a good quality coin from 15 – 20 years ago, even for a higher mintage issue, is much more challenging than a more recent issue, as coins become damaged over time and are ultimately removed from circulation.
Additionally, some designs are more hoarded than others by people who might not normally collect coins – the poignant First World War £2 Coin series being an example. Finally, it can be up to a couple of years before the Royal Mint eventually confirms the actual mintage for an issue.
That’s why we have combined the mintage information with two other key pieces of information.
- How many of each design are listed as “collected” by Change Checkers, indicating the relative ease of finding a particular coin.
- The number of times a design has been requested as a swap over the previous 3 months, showing the current level of collector demand.
Importantly, as new coins are released and popularity rises and falls across different designs the Scarcity Index will be updated quarterly allowing Change Checkers to track the relative performance of the UK’s circulation coins.
How much are my coins worth?
The Scarcity Index does not necessarily equate to value but it is certainly an effective indicator. For example, the Kew Gardens 50p coin commands a premium of up to 200 times face value on eBay.
You can use the 6 point guide to help you determine a more realistic value for your coins.
What about £1 Coins?
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app
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!