As collectors, we often find ourselves focusing on the commemorative coins that turn up in our change, but how often do we pay attention to the definitive designs?
We wouldn’t normally combine definitive and commemorative mintage figures into one chart, however the comparative figures give us an interesting insight into the change in our pockets and actually go to show why the definitive coin designs deserve your attention…
50p Mintage Figures
Our latest charts featuring the updated commemorative coin mintage figures revealed the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p as the second rarest UK 50p in circulation after the Kew Gardens, with a mintage of just 1,801,500. This knocked Jemima Puddle Duck off the second spot with a whopping 298,500 less coins being struck.
Change Checkers had already shown a great response to the Sir Isaac Newton coin, voting it their favourite coin design of the year in 2017. But now, as we delve deeper into the mintage figures for not only commemorative 50p coins but also the definitive designs, an unlikely rival has pipped the 2017 Isaac Newton to the post to claim the title of the second rarest UK 50p coin in circulation…
You might be surprised by the second rarest 50p in circulation…
The chart above features the mintage figures for every commemorative and definitive UK 50p coin in circulation and whilst the Kew Gardens still remains king, it came as a surprise that the second rarest 50p was actually a definitive rather than a commemorative design.
The 2017 Royal Shield 50p has a mintage of just 1,800,000 which means there are 1,500 less coins than the 2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p. This is by far the lowest mintage figure for any definitive 50p coin, with the next rarest definitive coin having almost double the amount of coins struck – the 2008 Britannia with a mintage of 3,500,000.
Definitive 50p coin designs
Christopher Ironside’s Britannia design featured on all UK definitive coins from their first appearance in 1969 with the words ‘NEW PENCE’ inscribed above. The inscription was revised in 1982 to say ‘FIFTY PENCE’ and this design remained unchanged until 2008, when Matthew Dent’s Royal Shield design was introduced, featuring the third and fourth quarters of the Royal Arms.
It comes as no surprise that the majority of the definitive designs can be found towards the bottom of the chart, with the most common UK 50p in circulation being the 1997 Britannia. The old larger 50p and this smaller one were both dated 1997, however the larger coin was only struck as year sets, whereas the smaller circulated in very large numbers, with a mintage of 456,364,100.
The fact that the 2017 Benjamin Bunny commemorative 50p features in amongst the definitive designs goes to show just how many of this design were struck and how likely you’ll be to find one in your change.
We haven’t included the Olympic 50p coins in the mintage chart as this was a specially struck series, with low mintages figures for each coin. You can see the Olympic 50p mintage figures here >>
£2 Mintage Figures
When it comes to the £2 coins, the Commonwealth Games are some of the rarest in circulation. In fact, all four coins would be sat at the top of the mintage charts if it wasn’t for two 2015 coins…
The rarest definitive £2 coin revealed…
Many collectors will be aware of the 2015 Navy £2‘s low mintage figure of 650,000, making it the third rarest UK £2 coin in circulation, however many of us may not know that this coin is in fact joint third, as a definitive design from the same year also holds the same low mintage figure.
In 2015, the new definitive £2 coin was introduced, with a design featuring the Britannia, replacing the Technology design which had featured on the coin since 1997. Britannia has featured on a British coin in one way or another for more than 300 years, apart from after 2008 when she was dropped from the 50p coin. She received a welcome return to British coinage for the 2015 definitive £2, but with so few coins being struck, this coin has become the third rarest UK £2 coin in circulation.
The 2016 version of the coin had a higher mintage of 2,925,000, but this is still incredibly low when compared to the 1998 Technology £2, which has a mintage of 91,110,375.
Of course the most common £2 coin you’re likely to come across in your change is the Technology £2, which dominates the bottom of the chart. The rarest of the Technology £2 coins is actually the 2005 issue, with a mintage of 3,837,250, making it the eighteenth rarest UK £2 in circulation.
You may have noticed a lack of 2017 coins on the £2 chart as to date The Royal Mint haven’t confirmed if they will enter circulation. Based on The Royal Mint’s figures, we know that no 2017 Britannia coins were struck for circulation.
I was certainly surprised by the rarity of some of the definitive designs shown on the charts above and will be checking the dates of the coins in my change very carefully to see if I can find any rarer ones for myself, but will you be doing the same?
Your chance to own the 2017 Britannia £2
This coin wasn’t struck for circulation, however you can own this coin as part of the 2017 Royal Mint Annual set.
But you’ll have to be quick, as this set is no longer on sale at The Royal Mint.
This year the 50p celebrates 50 years since its introduction in 1969, when it was released as the first coin in the new decimal series.
In 1967, the Deputy Master of The Royal Mint approached the Decimal Currency Board to discuss the introduction of a new coin as a more economical replacement for the 10 shilling note or ’10 bob’, which was only lasting 5 months in circulation at the time, compared to the 50 year lifespan of a coin. With much difficulty and debate to decide upon the best shape, the seven sided design was finally chosen (the first of its kind) and released 2 years later.
The original reverse was designed by Christopher Ironside and featured the seated Britannia alongside a lion. This coin was issued between 1969 and 2008, after which The Royal Mint held a public competition to redesign the reverse of UK coins, with Matthew Dent’s winning shield design featuring on the reverse of definitive 50p coins since.
Vote for your favourite 50p coin!
There have been over 70 designs released on UK 50p coins over the last 50 years, and their longevity is testament to the 50 year lifespan claimed by the Deputy Master of The Royal Mint.
But with so many different 50p designs being issued, which one is your favourite?
We’ve split the coins up into the 4 categories below so that you can vote for your favourite from each before choosing an overall winner out of the top 4 shortlisted.
Click on the links below to vote for each category:
- Vote for your favourite Pre 1997 50p here >>
- Vote for your favourite Beatrix Potter here 50p >>
- Vote for your favourite Olympic 50p here >>
- Vote for your favourite Modern 50p here >>
We’ll announce the top 4 coins shortlisted and give you the chance to vote for your favourite overall 50p coin next week.
If you’re interested in coin collecting, our Change Checker web app is completely free to use and allows users to:
– Find and identify the coins in their pocket
– Collect and track the coins they have
– Swap their spare coins with other Change Checkers
Sign up today at: www.changechecker.org/app
In the world of coin collecting, there’s one 50p in particular which is prized above all others. The one coin collectors strive to add to their collections… The Kew Gardens 50p.
We’ve taken a look at the inside story of this famed 50p to give you all the details you need to know about the coin – real, fake and re-issued…
Celebrating the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
Released by The Royal Mint in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, the striking design by Christopher Le Brun RA features the famous Chinese Pagoda at Kew entwined by a decorative leafy climber. It’s an image I’m sure many Change Checkers are familiar with, but not every Change Checker has been lucky enough to find one, and that’s because the mintage figures for this coin are so low…
The scarcest UK coin in circulation
In 2014, The Royal Mint revealed that only 210,000 Kew Gardens 50p coins had been struck, making it the scarcest UK coin in circulation.
Until this point, the coin had been somewhat overlooked, but once collectors realised just how rare this coin really was, the race was on to find one in their change – a challenge which to this day has coin collectors hunting far and wide for the chance to find one.
It’s estimated that just 1 in 300 people are likely to come across the Kew Gardens. When you compare its scarcity to the average 5 million coins per design usually issued into circulation, you start to really understand just how rare this coin is.
Whilst we don’t know for sure why so few coins were struck, we do know that The Royal Mint strikes new coins to meet the demand from cash centres, banks, Post Offices and distribution centres and perhaps demand was low that year. This might also have been in preparation for the 29 50p designs that would be released a few years later for the London Olympics.
It’s important to mention that there were also 128,364 Brilliant Uncirculated Kew Gardens 50p coins minted, meaning the rarity of the Kew Gardens design lies in its circulating form, rather than with the uncirculated coins.
Selling for almost 200 times face value
Those that have come across the Kew Gardens 50p have the opportunity to make a tasty profit on the 50p, with our eBay Tracker figures showing the average sold price for the coin at £97, with some in good condition still selling for over £100!
Bidders have driven phenomenal prices for the Kew Gardens 50p on eBay, which continues to sell at almost 200 times face value. However, there are chancers out there that have been seen to list the coin for eye watering amounts in the thousands! As our blog debunking eBay coin prices explains, whilst a coin might be listed for a high price, it is actually unlikely to have sold for this price. However, high priced coins on eBay often draw attention from press articles, which further feeds into the hype surrounding the coin.
Beware of fakers
Unfortunately for collectors, fake Kew Gardens 50p coins are out there and to the untrained eye they can be tricky to spot… Take a look at the infographic below to find out what you should be looking for to spot a fake Kew Gardens 50p:
Re-issued Kew Gardens 50p
Towards the end of 2018, The Royal Mint announced that the coin would be re-issued in 2019 as part of the 50th anniversary of the 50p coin set and unsurprisingly when these coins became available yesterday they were snapped up by collectors in a matter of mere hours!
The set has been made available in base Proof, Silver Proof and Gold Proof specifications, at a very limited number. In fact, the full range of 3,500 base Proof sets, 1,969 of the Silver and just 75 Gold sets have completely SOLD OUT!
Will the 2009 Kew Gardens 50p become less valuable?
Some collectors have been nervous that re-issuing the Kew Gardens 50p will cause the value of the original 2009 coin to drop. We can confidently say that due to the fact the new coin will be dated 2019, the scarcity of the original 2009 dated coin will not be affected and this will continue to be the UK’s scarcest coin currently in circulation.
Have you been lucky enough to find a Kew Gardens 50p in your change? Let us know in the comments below.
Own the Masterpiece 50p Collection
The Masterpiece 50p collection is a superb example of the variety in British numismatic craftsmanship over the last 20 years, with themes ranging from the UK’s entry to the EEC to marking the 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Our stock is very limited – so please be quick to reserve your set!