To celebrate 50 years since the release of the first seven sided coin in 1969, in January The Royal Mint released a set of five carefully curated commemorative edition 50p coins, including the UK’s most sought-after 50p in circulation, the Kew Gardens.
These coins were issued in Base Proof, Silver Proof and Gold Proof, but within just two hours of going on sale, the entire range completely sold out!
Many collectors were left feeling disappointed after missing out on the chance to own this set, however today The Royal Mint has released a Brilliant Uncirculated edition to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 50p.
Find out about the coins featured in this set below…
The very first 50p coin issued in 1969 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.
It seems only fitting therefore that the first 50p chosen to commemorate the coin’s 50th birthday is the ‘New Pence’ Britannia featuring Ironside’s design, a firm favourite for collectors, representing a numismatic milestone for Britain.
Girl Guides 50p
Within this set you can see not only the Britannia, but also the Girl Guides 50p which was issued in 2010 to celebrate 100 years of Girlguiding in the UK.
Girlguiding began in the UK after Robert Baden-Powell asked his sister Agnes to start a group especially for girls that would run in a similar way to the scouting movement he founded in 1907.
The trefoil Girlguiding logo seen on the reverse of the coin represents the threefold promise of the Guides, and is the focus of this commemorative 50p which celebrates the centenary of the organisation.
The next coin in the set is the 2007 Scouting 50p. The Scouting movement was started in 1907 by Lord Robert Baden-Powell at an experimental camp in 1907 on Brownsea Island in Dorset.
Baden-Powell was a decorated soldier, talented artist and free-thinker who believed in teaching boys practical outdoor activities and resourcefulness.
‘Be prepared’ became the motto of the scouting movement and features on the design of this commemorative 50p which was issued in 2007 to mark 100 years of Scouting in the UK,
Roger Bannister 50p
Another firm favourite which features in this set is the 2004 Roger Bannister 50p.
On 6 May 1954, 25-year old medical student Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile barrier, celebrated by this 50p issue. His time of 3mins 59.4 seconds was achieved at the Iffley Road track in Oxford and watched by around 3000 spectators.
This 50p is unusual in the sense that it is very rare for the achievement of a living person to be celebrated on a coin.
UK’s scarcest 50p – Kew Gardens
These retrospective reverse designs taken from the last 50 years create a wonderful set of coins to commemorate the 50p coin, however we all know that the coin collectors are most excited about is the re-issue of the Kew Gardens 50p.
Initially when the coin was released in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, its rarity was overlooked.
However in 2014 The Royal Mint revealed just how scarce this coin really is, with only 210,000 coins being struck. From this moment, prices on the secondary market began to skyrocket and collectors have since been desperate to add the coin to their collection, regarding the coin as one of the biggest prizes in the collecting world.
The 2019 re-issue of the most highly collected UK coin is a chance for collectors who have not already got this coin in their collection to finally own a genuine Kew, as many fakes have unfortunately been doing the rounds on the secondary market. Find out how to spot a Fake Kew Gardens here >>
Following the popularity of the Base, Silver and Coin Proof sets, we expect these Brilliant Uncirculated coins to be very sought-after.
Will you be securing the set for your collection?
Secure this iconic set, including the 2019 re-issued Kew Gardens 50p
This set is now available to order in Brilliant Uncirculated quality.
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 for circulation coins 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