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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Standing strong for over 1,100 years throughout Britain’s wars, political upheavals, social and economic progress and technological and scientific advances, The Royal Mint’s history can be traced back through our country’s coinage.
But it was on the 17th of December 50 years ago that The Queen herself opened the new site for The Royal Mint, which was moved to a purpose-built site in Llantrisant following 157 years at Tower Hill, London.
This was the first time since its inception that The Royal Mint had been based outside of London, and marked an incredibly important moment in the history of our coins.
The move to Llantrisant
In 1966 it was announced that Britain would adopt a new decimal currency. This meant that hundreds of millions of new coins would need striking and Tower Hill simply didn’t have enough space to cope with this demand and so the decision was made to find a new location for The Royal Mint.
Llantrisant made it onto the shortlist of the top 7 locations, and as James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer, Master of the Mint and an MP for Cardiff) supported a move to Wales, Llantrisant was chosen for the big move.
Britain’s new Mint
The announcement was made in 1967 and construction soon began on the new site. For the Llantrisant area, the move meant more work and a regeneration of the town, as well as adding to the sense of history and tradition. It was estimated that the move would provide 10,000 jobs to South Wales.
It was in 1968 that the site was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen when she switched on the coining presses to begin production of decimal bronze coins.
Llantrisant was built to house the most advanced coining machinery in the world and have a larger capacity than any other mint in Europe, necessary to cope with the amount of new coinage needed.
When the site opened, the circulating coin presses could strike up to 200 coins per minute, however the latest generation of presses today strike around 750 coins per minute!
Decimalisation of Britain’s coins
The 15th of February 1971 is known as the day that Britain “went decimal”.
Whilst this was the official ‘Decimal Day’, three years before this, the new 5p and 10p coins were actually introduced. These coins were the same size and value as the existing one and two shilling coins to make the transition easier for the British public.
It was in 1969 that the first seven sided coin – the 50p – was introduced to replace the 10-shilling note as a more economical alternative and then finally, on Monday 15 February 1971, the transition was complete when the half penny, 1p and 2p coins were also introduced.
The new Mint at Llantrisant successfully transformed hundreds of years of everyday currency from 12 pennies to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound, to the new pound made from 100 new pence.
Today the Royal Mint is the market leader and the largest single supplier of plated coins and blanks in Europe. They can produce 90 million coins and blanks a week – that’s almost 5 billion coins a year!
And all this has been made possible thanks to the advanced facilities at Llantrisant, as pictured above, without which the move to decimal coinage simply wouldn’t have been possible.
Own this Historic Royal Mint anniversary DateStamp™
To mark the move of The Royal Mint to Llandistrant, you have the opportunity to own the Royal Mint in Wales 50th Anniversary DateStampTM.
Featuring the 2016 Wales £20 coin with the iconic Welsh dragon design, and postmarked 17th December 2018, exactly 50 years since The Royal Mint moved to Wales.
*** UPDATE 12/08/2019 ***
The Chancellor Sajid Javid has asked officials if it will be possible to produce Brexit 50p coins in time for Britain’s departure from the EU in October 2019.
Previously, Chancellor Philip Hammond planned for just 10,000 commemorative Brexit coins to be struck for the event, however Javid intends millions of Brexit 50ps to be produced for circulation.
As mentioned in the blog below, the coin will have the words, “Peace, Prosperity and Friendship with all nations” and feature the date of Brexit – now 31st October 2019.
But with only a few months to go, will the coins be signed off by the Queen’s privy council and struck by The Royal Mint in time for Brexit?
It’s official! A Brexit 50p WILL be issued by The Royal Mint to mark the UK’s exit from the EU!
Within his budget, the Chancellor unveiled his advanced plans for the 50p coin, which will be released in Spring 2019.
As such a controversial issue, which has created much disruption across the UK and the EU since the referendum in June 2016, Philip Hammond hopes that this new coin, which is expected to bear the phrase ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’, will promote the positivity of the event.
In our previous blog, we asked Change Checkers if they would like to see a Brexit coin and 68% of you believed that such a significant moment in Britain’s history should be commemorated with a 50p coin. The Government has now finally conceded to create a gesture for this landmark moment and recognise its importance, although Treasury sources say the department has secretly been working on plans for the coin for months now.
The importance of Brexit can now be likened to Britain’s entry to the European Economic Community, which was then incorporated into the EU in 1993. A 50p coin was issued in 1973 to mark the occasion, featuring nine hands clasping each other in a circle, symbolising the nine member states of the community, intended to represent the trust, assistance and friendship which comes with EEC membership. So important was this event, that in 1998 the first “new sized” commemorative 50p was issued to commemorate 25 years of the UK in the EEC.
89,775,000 of the 1973 50p coins were struck for collectors but is no longer in circulation, whilst the 1998 coin has a mintage figure of 5,043,000 and can still be found in circulation.
It seems that the idea of commemorating Brexit in some way is popular amongst collectors, as commemorative 50p shaped Brexit souvenirs are now available on eBay and are currently selling for £6.99. These are not legal tender, but go to show that a Brexit 50p coin is certainly in demand and could be incredibly sought-after.
An order has now been issued by Mr Hammond to The Royal Mint advisory committee to draw up a designs for the Brexit 50p coin, which should be signed off later this year. Just as the EEC 50p from 1973 intended to promote the development of new relationships, so too will the Brexit 50p, but what do you think about the plans for the new coin?
We posted a poll on our Facebook page to find out what Change Checkers think and 66% of you think we should have a Brexit coin, compared to just 34% voted against the coin and the majority opinion seems to be that we had a coin for entering the EU, so we should also have one for leaving.
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