As many collectors will know, 2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the 50p coin.
Since its issue in 1969, the world’s first seven-sided coin has become a huge favourite with collectors and has served as a canvas to commemorate some of the most iconic moments in British Military history.
As we mark a milestone year for this iconic coin, The Royal Mint’s celebration continues as they reissue five of the most important 50p coins celebrating British Military history!
These five 50p coins, pieced together for the first time, mark a rare milestone moment for British Coinage. Not to mention the set also includes the 1994 D-Day 50p re-issued in the NEW 50p specifications for the first time ever!
Earlier in the year, the Base Proof, Silver Proof and Gold Proof British Culture 50p sets sold-out within just TWO HOURS of going on sale. The Brilliant Uncirculated set released just a short while later also saw an overwhelming response from collectors.
Find out the story of each of the coins featured in the British Military 50p Set below…
Victoria Cross Medal 50p
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry that a British serviceman can achieve. A recommendation for the Victoria Cross is normally issued by an officer at regimental level and has to be supported by three witnesses.
This coin was originally issued in 2006 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross.
Depicting the obverse and reverse of a Victoria Cross medal, the design by Claire Aldridge carefully details the Cross pattée with a crown and Lion as on the medal itself.
Victoria Cross Soldier 50p
The Victoria Cross Award was introduced in 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of the Crimean War.
Since then, two-thirds of all awards won have been presented by the British Monarch at investitures which are usually held at Buckingham Palace.
To date, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times. A large number of these were awarded during the World Wars: 634 in World War One and 182 awarded in World War Two.
Initially issued in 2006 to mark 150 years of the Victoria Cross Award, this coin features a soldier carrying a wounded comrade with an outline of the Victoria Cross as designed by Clive Duncan.
Battle of Hastings 50p
The Battle of Hastings was fought on the 14th of October 1066 between the French Army, led by Duke William II, and the English Army led by King Harold.
King Harold was eventually defeated by William who then became known as William the Conqueror; he was crowned the first Norman King of Great Britain.
Issued in 2016 to mark 950 years since this legendary battle, the reverse design of this 50p by John Bergdahl was inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry.
Battle of Britain 50p
The Battle of Britain was an intense air battle fought mainly throughout the summer of 1940 between Germany and Britain.
The name for the conflict was derived from a Winston Churchill speech in which he said “The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
Marking the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain this coin was first issued in 2015. The reverse design, by Gary Breeze, depicts three airmen running to their planes with enemy aircraft overhead.
D-Day Landings 50p
On 6th June 1944 a mighty alliance of British, American and Commonwealth armed forces crossed from England to Normandy and began assault on German forces.
It was the largest seaborne invasion in history and began the liberation of German-occupied France, laying the foundations for the Allied victory of World War Two.
A timeless tribute to the thousands of Allied troops who fought tirelessly in the War, this 50p coin was issued in 1994 to commemorate 50 years since D-Day.
Originally struck as a large 50p in the pre-1997 specifications this is the first time ever this D-Day 50p coin has been issued in the new 50p dimensions!
The reverse of the coin was designed by John Mills and represents the D-Day Landings with the Allied invasion force heading for Normandy filling the sea and sky.
We are very excited to see these coins being re-issued as a complete set for the first time – especially the 1994 D-Day 50p in the new specifications!
Following the popularity of the re-issued British Culture 50p set earlier in the year, we expect this set to be equally as sought-after.
What coin are you most looking forward to seeing?
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Have you ever noticed how the coins in your pocket display some of the most important moments in Britain’s history? From The Battle of Hastings, The World Wars, Votes for Women and more…
In fact, the coins we find in our change almost act as a guide to map out our nation’s heritage, which in my opinion means these coins play an incredibly important role in preserving these key moments for generations to come.
But with so many historically significant coins out there, which is your favourite? We’ve put together a list of our top ten historical coins – including information about their design and the events they represent and asked Change Checkers to vote for their all time favourite.
Take a look through to familiarise yourself with the coins below and then find out the results of our poll at the bottom of this page.
The Battle of Hastings 50p
For many of us, 1066 represents the start of ‘real’ British history – the year of The Battle of Hastings.
On this day, King Harold II’s English army was defeated by the Norman-French army of William the Conqueror. This led to the Norman conquest of England, with William the Conqueror becoming our first Norman King – a crucial moment in medieval history.
In 2016, The Royal Mint issued a 50p coin to mark the 950th anniversary of this hugely significant event which changed the course of history.
The reverse of this coin was designed by John Bergdahl and is inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts the fate of King Harold at the hands of William The Conqueror, along with the famous date 1066 – when the battle took place. The obverse features the fifth portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Jody Clark.
6,100,000 Battle of Hastings 50p coins were struck, but have you found one in your change?
Magna Carta £2
The Magna Carta or ‘Great Charter’ is known as one of the most famous documents ever written and forms the foundations for modern democracy and the rights of all English citizens today.
Issued in 1215 by King John of England (otherwise known as ‘Bad King John’ due to his autocratic rule), the charter made peace with the rebel barons who had been causing a political crisis and stated that everyone (including the king) was subject to the law.
It is still cited in many legal cases to this day and some of the core values can also be seen in the United States Bill of Rights (1791), despite the document being substantially altered within just 10 years of it being issued.
In 2015, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The reverse design of this medieval-style coin features King John holding a quill and flanked by two noblemen.
Only 1,495,000 of this coin were struck, meaning it is slightly harder to find in your change, but have you got one in your collection?
Charles Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and was known as the ‘father or evolution’.
Born in 1809, Darwin was a British scientist whose work laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and natural selection, forever transforming the way we think about the natural world.
At the time of publication in 1859, his book ‘On the Origin of the Species’ was extremely controversial as it made it seem possible that humans evolved from apes, contradicting the widely held Orthodox Church theory of creation.
His death on the 19th April 1882 was honoured with a burial at Westminster Abbey and in 2009 The Royal Mint celebrated 200 years since his birth and 150 years since the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ with this £2 coin. The reverse design by Suzie Zamit features a profile portrait of Darwin facing a chimpanzee.
3,903,000 Darwin £2 coins were struck, so you might have come across one in your change?
On the 5th of July 1948, the National Health Service was born – providing a health service available to all and financed entirely from taxation.
After a Labour victory in the 1945 general election, Aneurin Bevan became minister of health, responsible for establishing the NHS.
This was the first time that anywhere in the world had completely free healthcare for citizens and brought together hospitals, doctors and nurses as one service, becoming the third largest employer in England.
In 1998, The Royal Mint issued this 50p coin to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the NHS. The coin’s obverse design features a pair of hands radiating lines to symbolise hope, created by David Cornell who is most famous for his Diana Princess of Wales Memorial £5 coin design.
5,001,000 NHS 50p coins were struck, but do you have one in your collection?
Gunpowder Plot £2
In 1605, a failed assassination attempt of King James I by a group of English Catholics went down in history as The Gunpowder Plot.
Whilst the 5th of November is now an an exciting celebration with fireworks and bonfires, the plan made by these rebels back in 1605 was far less lighthearted…
They plotted to blow up the House of Lords during the opening of Parliament on 5th November 1605, but Guy Fawkes was discovered the night before guarding 36 barrels of gunpowder and was subsequently executed along with seven other plotters.
In 2005, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin to mark the 400th anniversary. The reverse design of this coin features a montage of bishop’s crosiers, swords, and the Parliamentary mace – symbolising the survival of the British establishment.
5,140,500 of this coin were struck and many have found their way into the hands of collectors.
With Emmeline and Christabelle Pankhurst at its forefront, the Suffragette movement finally saw the partial votes for women in 1918, with the franchise being extended to all women over 21 in 1928.
The passionate campaigning for equal voting rights by this pioneering group of women meant that they risked ridicule and even imprisonment in defense of their cause.
However, the foundations they laid shaped society’s idea of women and sparked a new era of feminist history.
The Royal Mint issued the Suffragettes 50p in 2003 to commemorate the centenary of the establishment of the Women’s Social and Political Union. The design by Mary Milner Dickens features the figure of a suffragette chained to railings holding a banner on which appear the letters WSPU and to the right a ballot paper marked with a cross can be seen.
3,124,030 Suffragettes 50ps were struck, meaning it might be harder to come across in your change.
First World War Kitchener £2
Horatio Herbert Kitchener, the British Secretary of War became synonymous with the enlistment campaign when war was declared on 4th August 1914.
Intuition told him that the war would last for several years and so he masterminded a recruitment campaign to build the largest volunteer army that Britain had ever seen and oversersaw a significant expansion of materials production to fight on the Western Front.
On 5 June 1916, Kitchener died aboard HMS Hampshire, when it struck a German mine near Scotland and sank.
To mark the centenary of the First World War, the Royal Mint revealed a five-year commemoration of the wartime journey from outbreak to armistice. and this first coin in the series is the £2 coin bearing sculptor John Bergdahl’s depiction of Lord Kitchener’s famous call to arms alongside the words YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU.
5,720,000 coins were struck, meaning you are likely to come across this coin in your change.
Sir Isaac Newton 50p
Sir Isaac Newton is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.
According to the Julian calendar in use in England at the time, Newton was born on Christmas Day, 25 December 1642 in the county of Lincolnshire. He became a fellow of Trinity College and the second Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge.
His works changed our understanding of mathematics and physics and redefined the way we see the world.
In 1696 on the recommendation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Isaac Newton became master of The Royal Mint, where he shaped the security of our currency, ensuring coins were made of the correct weight and fineness, varying as little as possible one from another.
Designed by Aaron West, this 50p coin was issued by The Royal Mint in 2017 to commemorate the achievements of Sir Isaac Newton and remember the legacy he left.
With a mintage of just 1,801,500 this 50p is the second rarest commemorative 50p in circulation.
Great Fire of London £2
The Great Fire is one of the most well-known disasters to hit London, when an accidental spark from a baker’s oven on Pudding Lane led to the destruction of a third of the city.
At the time, London had an estimated half a million inhabitants, many of which lived in wooden houses and makeshift structures which had become bone dry during an exceptional drought.
Over the course of 4 days, flames reaching temperatures of 1,250 °C consumed 13,200 houses, 87 parish churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, and most of the buildings of the City authorities.
This 2016 £2 coin was issued by The Royal Mint to mark the 350th Anniversary of the iconic moment in the city’s history from which modern London emerged. The reverse depicts the city of London burning in flames from a distance and was designed by Aaron West.
The coin has a mintage of 5,135,000.
60th Anniversary of the end of World War Two £2
The 8th May 1945 is known as VE Day – Victory in Europe, which marked the end of World War Two.
This followed Germany’s surrender, about a week after Adolf Hitler had committed suicide during the Battle of Berlin.
Upon Germany’s defeat, an eruption of celebrations swept across the western world and in the UK more than a million people took to the streets to mark the end of war. In London, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth appeared on the balcony of the palace alongside Prime Minister Winston Churchill, to stand before the cheering crowds.
The reverse design of this £2 features a depiction of St Paul’s Cathedral which survived the Blitz to become a great symbol of hope to a war-torn nation. The edge inscription reads – IN VICTORY: MAGNANIMITY, IN PEACE: GOODWILL – part of the famous maxim that prefaces Churchill’s history of the Second World War.
With a mintage of 10,191,000 this coin is the most common £2 coin (excluding the Technology £2). Do you have one in your collection and do you think it should be named the favourite historical coin?
I’m sure you’ll agree that each of these remarkable coins beautifully represents a very special part of British heritage and acts as a window into our past history. Now it’s time to reveal which coin has been named the favourite amongst Change Checkers, based on their historical significance and quality of design.
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Collect and preserve these fantastic coins for yourself with the History of Britain in Coins Collector Pack, including 10 expertly illustrated fact cards and introductory cover page, housed within protective pages in a Change Checker album.
What’s more, when you order today, you’ll receive the Great Fire of London £2 for FREE to get your collection started!
This pack makes for the ideal gift and is a great way to encourage junior Change Checkers to build their collections, whilst also helping them to learn about British history at the same time.
The Royal Mint have unveiled the new themes and designs for all 2016 circulation coins, and Change Checkers can look forward to some very significant British anniversaries being commemorated.
£2 – 350th Anniversary of the Great Fire of London
Undoubtedly one of the worst disasters in Britain’s history, the Great Fire of London started on 2nd September 1666 and lasted for nearly five days. It had a devastating effect on the lives of Londoners, and it took about 50 years to rebuild the ruined city. It was a tragic event but was key in shaping the city which we know today.
50p – 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings
On 14th October 1066, King Harold II was defeated by the Norman forces of William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. It was a pivotal moment in medieval history. From here, William marched onto London which submitted to his rule, and he was crowned as the first Norman King, bringing significant cultural transformation to England.
3 x £2 – 400th Anniversary of the Death of William Shakespeare
The most influential literary figure in British history, William Shakespeare is someone who needs little introduction. His works are an important part of Britain’s cultural heritage and next year he will be honoured with a series of three £2 coins which pay tribute to each of his major genres: Tragedies, Comedies and Histories. The reverse designs take inspiration from his most famous plays, including Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.
£2 – 2016 First World War Centenary – The British Army
The third issue in the Royal Mint’s five year First World War Centenary series will commemorate the role of the Army. Friends and neighbours across Britain enlisted together and the camaraderie of these so-called ‘Pals Batallions’ are honoured on a new £2 coin.
£1 – The Last ‘Round Pound’
The Royal Mint have also confirmed that next year will be the final ’round pound’, calling time on a coin which was first issued more than thirty years ago. The reverse design will feature four animals representing each of the four constituent UK countries.
Meanwhile, the Queen’s 90th Birthday milestone has been reserved for the new £5 coin, and you can read more about this in our previous blog.
The announcement of next year’s coins is always an exciting moment for Change Checkers, particularly when the anniversaries are as significant as these.
And now we can now start looking forward to finding these new designs in our change!
All new coins coming soon to www.changechecker.org…