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, including Jane Austen, Harry Potter, J.R.R. Tolkien and even Julia Donaldson’s much-loved Gruffalo. Take a look below to find out more about these literary coins.

Harry Potter 50ps

In 2022, Harry Potter featured on a UK coin for the first time ever, kicking off a series of 4 UK 50ps celebrating 25 years since the publication of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone.

2022 and 2023 Harry Potter 50ps
2022 and 2023 Harry Potter 50ps

The series continued with the Hogwarts Express 50p, the Professor Dumbledore 50p and the Hogwarts School 50p. The designs were taken directly from Jim Kay’s 2015 illustrated editions of the Harry Potter books and were the first UK 50ps to include a lenticular feature. When tilted, the lenticular section shows both the number ’25’ and Harry’s trademark lightening bolt.

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.

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 was continued throughout 2017 and 2018 with the release of a further eight 50p coins.

To the delight of collectors, two stand-alone Peter Rabbit 50ps were issued in 2019 and 2020, however these coins didn’t enter circulation.

J.R.R. Tolkien £2

Often referred to as the ‘Father of Fantasy’, J.R.R. Tolkien is perhaps best known for his titles such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, which are considered some of the greatest fantasy books ever written.

In 2023, Tolkien was celebrated on a UK £2, featuring a beautifully detailed design by artist David Lawrence.

2023 J.R.R Tolkien £2
2023 J.R.R Tolkien £2

On the reverse of the coin, you’ll see Tolkien’s trademark monogram, framed by an intricately detailed runic band. Also inscribed are the years of his life 1892-1973 and the words ‘Writer, Poet, Scholar’, representative of his intellect and imagination.

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

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

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

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.

The designs, by David Knapton, include incredible detail – from Paddington’s famous duffle coat to the label around his neck that reads ‘Please look after this Bear, thank you.’

2018 Paddington at the Station and 2018 Paddington at the Palace 50ps
2019 Paddington at the Tower of London and 2019 Paddington at St Paul’s Cathedral 50ps

A further 2 Paddington 50ps were issued in 2019, continuing his adventures around London, visiting the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.

The Snowman 50p

The Snowman™ first appeared on a UK 50p back in 2018 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved festive tale. Since then, there has been a new UK The Snowman™ 50p issued each year, and there are now 6 in the series.

Over the years, we’ve been treated to some of the most iconic scenes on our coins, taken from the original tale and even the 2012 film – The Snowman™ and The Snowdog™.

UK The Snowman 50p series

The Snowman™ has been seen sharing adventures with his friend, James, flying through the night skydancing under the northern lights and even cuddling up with The Snowdog™!

The Gruffalo 50p

Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo was first published in 1999 and in 2019 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 later in 2019. This coin 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

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

What authors and books would you like to see on UK coins in future? Let us know in the comments below!

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

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