The Royal Mint held their trial pieces auction on 11th February 2024, and with more than 200 items available, it was their largest to date! The winning bids of the Brilliant Uncirculated 50p pieces varied, but there were some surprising figures – keep reading to find out which piece sold for nearly £1,900!
What is a Trial Piece?
When new coins are being designed, trial pieces are created to allow engineers at the Mint to experiment with different techniques. Some features on coins are ambitious, but by creating trial pieces during the testing process, this helps discover which features may not be viable.
Engineers usually produce between 7 and 30 die trial pieces per product before it is released to the public, depending on how complex the design is. When you consider how many of each coin go on to be created for collectors, these trial pieces are extremely rare and collectible.
Usually, once a product has been tested and approved, most of the die trial pieces are destroyed, with only one of each retained for reference purposes. And, occasionally The Royal Mint holds an auction for these one-of-a-kind trial pieces, giving collectors the chance to get their hands on these unique coins.
If the fact that there is only one of each piece in existence wasn’t enough, each trial piece is also authenticated with a Trial Pieces mark on the obverse. The mark features the inscription ‘ROYAL MINT TRIAL’ around a special high security feature. This mark is easily visible on pieces featuring Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, however it’s much smaller and harder to spot on pieces with King Charles III’s obverse.
In the latest auction, a selection of trial pieces from 2022 and 2023 in various metal specifications were available, but we’ve taken a look at the winning bids on the Brilliant Uncirculated 50ps.
Unsurprisingly, the piece that fetched the most at auction was the 2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memoriam 50p Trial Piece, with a winning bid of £1,850! This was the first UK coin issued following the Queen’s passing, and the first to feature King Charles III on the obverse, making it highly collectable.
Sticking with the royal theme, the 2023 Coronation 50p Trial Piece sold for a whopping £1,100, but it didn’t quite make second place as the 2022 Harry Potter 50p Trial Piece snuck in there with a winning bid of £1,250!
Interestingly, whoever managed to secure the 2022 Harry Potter 50p Trial Piece is now the proud owner of a coin with a lenticular feature on both sides. The Harry Potter 50p series was the first time we’d ever seen a lenticular feature on a UK 50p coin, so to have TWO on the same coin is quite something!
All of these pieces are highly sought after, and even the 2023 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 50p which sold for the lowest price of all the Brilliant Uncirculated 50ps still fetched 720 times its face value!
Are you one of the lucky ones?
The Trial Pieces auction is open to the general public, so we’d love to know if you have ever been lucky enough to win a bid for one of these special pieces. Or perhaps you’ve previously made a bid but didn’t manage to secure the piece – let us know in the comments below!
The Tales of the Earth 50p series continued with the 2024 UK T-Rex 50p in December last year, kicking off the Iconic Specimens Collection!
The collection celebrates some of the most legendary dinosaurs to roam the Earth, with designs by renowned paleo-artist Robert Nicholls who had expert guidance from Professor Paul Barrett from the Natural History Museum. Still to come in the Iconic Specimens Collection are the Stegosaurus 50p and the Diplodocus 50p.
Test your knowledge!
In honour of these mighty dinosaurs, we want to test your pre-historic knowledge! Take our ultimate dinosaur quiz and let us know what you scored!
Continue your Tales of the Earth 50p collection
The 2024 UK RNLI 50p has just dropped anchor and is ready to swim straight into your collection!
I know a lot of you will be wanting to get your hands on this one, because we asked you to vote for your favourite design from the Annual Set, and the RNLI 50p won with a huge 50% of the votes!
So if you just cant wait, click here to secure your 2024 UK RNLI 50p for just £5.99 >>
Or, keep reading to find out a bit more…
History of the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, better known as the RNLI, was founded by Sir William Hillary in 1824, and 2024 marks its 200th anniversary. From being the first organization to use steam-driven lifeboats in 1890, to providing crucial maritime support during the first and second world wars, to opening their training college in 2004 – the RNLI have been making history and saving lives at sea for 2 whole centuries.
Each year, coins marking key anniversaries and historical figures are chosen to feature in the Annual Set – and this year was no exception with coins celebrating the National Gallery, Sir Winston Churchill, the Paris Olympics and of course, the RNLI.
A ‘mast’erpiece designs
The reverse design incorporates key symbols of the RNLI, with the flag in the centre, surrounded by a life ring and rope. Inscribed on the life ring are the years of the charity 1824-2024 as well as ‘200 years’, marking that incredible milestone.
Did you know…
The iconic RNLI flag wasn’t introduced until 1908. The first version designed by Leonara Preston in 1884 who used the St George’s cross as the basis for the flag, adding the RNLI lettering, the Tudor Crown worn by King George VI and a foul anchor in the centre.
The design was updated in 1953 to represent the change of monarch to Queen Elizabeth II when the Tudor Crown was swapped for the St Edwards Crown. It’s this version of the flag that’s been proudly flown at all lifeboat stations since, but I wonder if they’ll change the design again for King Charles III?
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Supporting a great cause
As well as a design paying tribute to 200 years of the institution that has saved over 144,000 lives, The Royal Mint are donating 5% of every RNLI 50p sold to the charity*, allowing them to continue their great work.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen proceeds from a UK coin go to a worthy cause. Just last year, The Royal Mint donated 100% of the profits from the 2023 NHS 50p to NHS Charities Together, an organization that provides incredible support to NHS staff, patients and communities.
The 2023 UK NHS 50p commemorated 75 years of the National Health Service, and it’s estimated that the total donation figure reached £225,000 – an incredible way to celebrate three-quarters of a century of the great British organization.
So do you agree with 50% of collectors – is the RNLI 50p your favourite coin from the 2024 Annual Set? Perhaps you have a personal story involving the RNLI that you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!
Secure your 2024 UK RNLI 50p
*The Royal Mint Limited will contribute 5% of the price excluding VAT in support of the RNLI. Payments are made to RNLI (Sales) Ltd (which pays all its taxable profits to the RNLI, a charity registered in England and Wales (209603),Scotland (SC037736), the Republic of Ireland (20003326), the Bailiwick of Jersey (14), the Isle of Man (1308 and 006329F) and the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Alderney.