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!
Do you collect 50p coins? Perhaps you keep hold of commemorative 50ps you find in your change, or maybe you’ve built up a collection of brilliant uncirculated coins…
Whether you’re new to the hobby or you’re a seasoned collector, you might not know that some of your coins are part of a series – but which 50p series are worth collecting?
Let’s kick off with perhaps the best known 50p coin series – the Olympic 50ps!
Back in 2011, to mark the 2012 Olympics being held in London, The Royal Mint issued 29 new 50p coins, each representing a different sport. With 29 new commemorative coin designs to look out for in circulation, the Olympic 50ps sparked many people’s interest in collecting coins.
Even now, 13 years on, 2011 holds the record for the most commemorative coin designs to enter circulation (30 designs in total including the WWF 50p released the same year).
It’s estimated that 75% of Olympic 50ps have been removed from circulation by collectors, but by checking your change and swapping with other collectors, it’s still possible to collect the complete set.
Another coin series that inspired many younger collectors is the Paddington 50p series. With 2 coins released in 2018 and a further 2 in 2019, this collection of 4 coins shows the beloved bear in front of some of London’s most iconic landmarks.
The first 2 coins were issued to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Paddington’s first appearance in Michael Bond’s classic childhood tale, with the first showing Paddington sat at his namesake train station.
He continued his adventures around London, visiting Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.
The 2018 Paddington at the Station 50p has the lowest mintage figure of the series, with only 5,001,000 in circulation, however it still ranks as common on our Scarcity Index.
Have you ever found any Paddington 50ps in your change? Let us know in the comments!
Are you missing any Paddington 50ps? Check out our Paddington range >>
Beatrix Potter 50ps
Thirteen Beatrix Potter 50ps were issued between 2016 and 2018, each featuring beloved characters from Potter’s enchanting tales. All of these coins entered circulation, however a further 2 Peter Rabbit 50ps were issued in 2019 and 2020 which did not enter circulation.
These coins caused a collecting frenzy in back in 2016 due to their unique theme, and were probably the most talked-about coins since the 2011 Olympic 50ps!
A lot of the Beatrix Potter 50ps will have been snapped up into collections by now, but it is still possible to find them in circulation – although you might be searching a while for the whole set!
Based solely on circulating mintage figures, the rarest Beatrix Potter 50ps are the Flopsy Bunny 50p and the 2018 Peter Rabbit 50p, each with a mintage figure of just 1,400,000.
The most common coin in the series is the Benjamin Bunny 50p, which has a circulating mintage of 25,000,000. Aside from the 1973 European Economic Community 50p which had a mintage of 89,775,000, the Benjamin Bunny 50p has the highest commemorative 50p mintage figure, so you’ve probably come across one in your change at some point!
If you’re struggling to complete your collection, check out our Beatrix Potter range >>
Winnie the Pooh 50ps
In 2020, The Royal Mint announced a 9-coin 50p collection celebrating Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
The designs were produced by The Walt Disney Company, featuring original illustrations from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh storybooks by E.H. Shepard.
The very first coin in the series, featuring Pooh sat beside an overturned pot of honey, was the first time that Winnie the Pooh had ever featured on a UK coin. It was so popular in fact, that all 18,000 silver proof 50p coins sold out in less than 12 hours! The excitement for this series didn’t stop there though, as the silver proof 2022 Eeyore 50p also sold out within just hours of issue at The Royal Mint.
Although the Winnie the Pooh 50ps didn’t enter circulation, they are still incredibly popular with collectors. Some people have even paid well over retail price for them on eBay to complete their collections.
If you have any gaps in your Winnie the Pooh 50p collection, check out which ones we still have available >>
The Snowman™ 50ps
The Snowman™ first appeared on a UK 50p back in 2018 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raymond Briggs’ much-loved festive tale. Since then, there has been a new UK The Snowman™ 50p issued each year, and there are now 6 in the series.
Over the years, we’ve been treated to some of the most iconic scenes on our coins, taken from the original tale and even the 2012 film – The Snowman™ and The Snowdog™.
The Snowman™ has been seen sharing adventures with his friend, James, flying through the night sky, dancing under the northern lights and even cuddling up with The Snowdog™!
It’s become somewhat of a festive tradition for a new UK The Snowman™ 50p to be issued each year, and it just doesn’t feel like Christmas until it’s released.
Do you think there will be more The Snowman™ 50ps issued in years to come? Let us know below!
Which 50p series is your favourite?
Do you have any of these coins in your collection? Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have a complete set! We’d love to hear from you which 50p series is your favourite, so let us know in the comments below.
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
The 2024 Annual Coin Set celebrates some of the most significant anniversaries and events taking place this year, one of which being 150 years since the birth of Sir Winston Churchill.
The 2024 Winston Churchill £2 depicts him as a young man during his time in the Cavalry army, with the years of his life 1874-1965 either side of his portrait.
However, rather unusually, the Winston Churchill £2 will be the only coin from the 2024 Annual Set NOT to be released individually.
A collecting ‘first’
At the beginning of each year, collectors eagerly anticipate the release of The Royal Mint’s Annual Coin Set, which includes 5 of the best commemorative coins from the year to come. Securing the Annual Set is usually the only way for collectors to get their hands on the coins until they’re individually released later in the year.
However, this year is a bit different as the Winston Churchill £2 WON’T be issued individually – meaning that currently, the only way to own it is in the 2024 Annual Set. This is extremely unusual, but we have seen similar situations a handful of times before.
Serious collectors know why it’s important to own both the Annual Set and individual release versions of coins, but in case you didn’t know, here are a few examples of previous design differences…
2022 Platinum Jubilee 50p
The most recent example is the 2022 Platinum Jubilee 50p, issued to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s incredible 70 year reign.
At the beginning of 2022, the Annual Coin Set included the Platinum Jubilee 50p which featured the number 70 and the Queen’s cypher on the reverse and the Jody Clark portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. However, when the coin was individually released later in the year, it featured a special obverse design of Her Majesty on horseback – a nod to the design on the 1952 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Crown.
Team GB 50p
Back in 2020, the Team GB 50p was released as part of the 2020 Annual Coin Set, to celebrate Team GB’s participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The reverse design featured a depiction of various Olympic sports, the official Team GB logo and the year 2020, whilst the obverse featured Jody Clark’s Queen Elizabeth II portrait and the date 2020.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021, this 50p was never individually released in 2020.
The Team GB 50p was eventually individually issued in 2021, however due to the delayed release, it featured two different dates – 2020 on the reverse design and 2021 on the obverse. This made it one of just a few UK coins to feature a dual-date.
2021 Decimal Day 50p
The Decimal Day 50p was issued as part of the 2021 Annual Set to mark the 50th anniversary of Decimalisation.
The Decimal Day 50p in the 2021 Annual Set featured overlapping pre-decimal coins and the date ‘1971’ on the reverse and the original Arnold Machin portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse – which featured on the very first 50p back in 1969. However, when it was individually released later in 2021, the Decimal Day 50p featured the standard Jody Clark portrait of Her Majesty on the obverse.
The above three examples show how some UK coins are individually released with slightly different variations to their Annual Set counterpart, however the 2024 Winston Churchill £2 is highly unusual in that it won’t be individually released at all! As collectors will know, an unusual story like this is sure to add to the collectability of this coin and the 2024 Annual Set.
The return of Winston Churchill on UK currency
Winston Churchill is one of the most memorable figures in British politics, and the 2024 Winston Churchill £2 isn’t the first time we’ve seen him feature on our UK currency.
The 1965 Churchill Crown was issued to mark the death of Sir Winston Churchill, making him the first non-royal to be portrayed on a British coin.
The reverse design features a sombre-looking head and shoulders portrait of Churchill wearing a ‘siren suit’ – overalls designed to be worn in wartime air-raid shelters, invented and popularised by Churchill.
In the lead up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games being held in London, the Royal Mint issued the 2010 London Olympic Games Sir Winston Churchill £5.
The design was inspired by a statue of wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill accompanied by a quote: ‘Be daring, be first, be different, be just’.
Half a century after his death, the 2015 Churchill £5 was issued.
Engraver Mark Richards FRBS, who designed the reverse of this coin, said he wanted to convey Churchill as larger than life by creating an image larger than the coin itself.
In 2016, Sir Winston Churchill replaced Elizabeth Fry on the UK £5 bank note.
The design features the famous portrait of Churchill in 1941 known as the ‘Roaring Lion’ as well as his famous quote “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat” which he made on the day he became Prime Minister.
So, considering the rarity of a scenario like this, will you be adding the 2024 Annual Set to your collection to guarantee the 2024 Winston Churchill £2? Perhaps you have all the previous Churchill coins in your collection and don’t want to miss the latest issue, let us know in the comments!