2023 marks 75 years of our NHS, and to celebrate, a new UK 50p has been issued.
This coin may look familiar, and that’s because it featured in the 2023 Annual Coin Set released earlier this year, but now you can finally own it individually!
The nation’s service
Since it was established in 1948, the National Health Service has played a pivotal role in the lives of the British public. It provides millions of people with vital care and medical services. This was especially apparent in recent years during the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A closer look
The 2023 UK NHS 50p represents the nation’s appreciation for NHS workers and services, with an original design by Alice Lediard. The reverse design features key words associated with the NHS such as dedication, hope, support and compassion. The words ‘National Health Service 75’ can also be seen highlighted in the centre of the coin.
What’s more, The Royal Mint are donating 100% of the profit made from these coins to NHS Charities Together. Over 230 NHS Charities across the UK provide additional support and resources for both staff and patients.
What better way to say thank you for the last 75 years or service.
Numismatic history of the NHS
This isn’t the first time the NHS has been celebrated on a UK coin…
1998 50th Anniversary of the NHS 50p
In 1998, a UK 50p was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the NHS.
The reverse design by David Cornell shows a pair of hands cupping rays of light along with the inscription ‘NHS FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY’.
2018 A-Z ‘N’ NHS 10p
Almost 20 years later in 2018, the NHS 10p was released as part of the 26 coin A-Z 10p series.
The series celebrated all things British, so it’s no surprise that the NHS was chosen to represent the letter N. The reverse design shows a stethoscope wrapped around the letter N in the shape of a heart.
The A-Z 10ps have become some of the hardest UK circulation coins to find, with a mintage of only 304,000 per letter.
And that brings us to 2023 and the new 75th anniversary of the NHS 50p, which you can own in brilliant uncirculated quality.
Secure your 2023 UK 75 Years of the NHS Certified BU 50p
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of arguably the most important moment in British numismatic history – the first coins issued for decimalisation.
In 1968, the British public would have found 5p and 10p coins in their change for the very first time, issued as part of Britain’s conversion to a system of decimal currency.
The coins bore new heraldic designs, but were exactly the same size and value as shillings and florins, which meant the changeover process should have been a smooth transition. However, after generations of pounds, shillings and pence, the Decimal Currency Board still needed to reassure suspicious Britons to go decimal – a case which had actually been argued as long ago as 1696 by Sir Christopher Wren.
It was the 1960 report by the Association of British Chambers of Commerce and the British Association for the Advancement of Science which finally set into action a currency based upon simple multiples, a system already adopted by a number of Commonwealth countries including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
A massive number of coins were required for the changeover, forcing The Royal Mint to move location from Tower Hill to its new production facility in Llantrisant, South Wales, where the first of almost six billion coins required for decimalisation went into production.
It was then on the 23rd April 1968 that the new 5p and 10p coins went into circulation, operating as legal tender up to the sum of £5, with mintage figures of 98,868,250 and 336,143,250 respectively.
The humble 5p featured the Christopher Ironside reverse design until 2008 and has since featured Matthew Dent’s reverse design, following a public competition held by The Royal Mint. On the 27th June 1990, a reduced size version of the coin was introduced and the older, larger coins were withdrawn on the 31st December 1990, although the design remained unchanged.
Similarly, the 10p coin also featured Christopher Ironside’s reverse design up until 2008 when this was replaced by Matthew Dent’s. However, the 10p remained a larger coin until the 30th September 1992, when the reduced size version was introduced, with the larger coin being removed from circulation a year later.
As we seem to move ever closer towards a cashless society, the questions lingers as to how long these decimalised coins will remain a necessity… However, this year’s release of 26 brand new A-Z of Great Britain 10p coin designs just goes to show that the demand for the smaller denomination coins is still there. In fact, these little coins have become incredibly sought-after and have dominated news stories and conversations amongst collectors, with everyone wanting to get their hands on the elusive coins!
Although the nation seemed reluctant to accept these decimal coins back in 1968, I think it’s fair to say that they have now become a much loved part of British coinage and as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first decimalised coins, we can look back with fondness for the 5p and 10p coins.
Own the very first coins issued for decimalisation!
The First Decimalised Coins include the original 5p and 10p coins from their first year of issue, 1968.
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.
Secure your History of Britain in Coins Collector Pack
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.