The countdown has begun and in JUST 50 days, our decimal coinage will celebrate its 50th anniversary!
Join in with our celebrations!
To celebrate the anniversary of the biggest change our UK coinage has ever seen, we’ve launched a 50 Day Countdown until the Decimalisation Anniversary!
Every day, for 50 days, we’ll be posting different activities for you to read, watch and get involved in. We’ve got quizzes, giveaways and so much more planned, so make sure you’ve got your eyes peeled across all of our channels so that you can get involved!
The 50th anniversary of Decimal Day marks a significant change in our UK currency which changed the day to day lives of every British Citizen in the United Kingdom.
It was the subject of passionate debate for centuries, so during our 50 Day Countdown, we’ll be taking a closer look at the history and story behind the decimal changeover. To test your knowledge, we’ll even have some quizzes for you to get involved with!
So, will you be joining us on our Countdown?
Make sure you’ve subscribed to the Change Checker Podcast, our Youtube channel and you’ve followed us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on some of the exciting prizes up for grabs!
If you have memories of the changeover, or have any interesting facts about Decimalisation, make sure you’re commenting below!
Secure the 14 coins which were affected by the decimal changeover with the Decimalisation Collector Page!
This collector page includes space to display the 14 coins which were affected by the decimal changeover on ‘D-Day’ in 1971 and makes for the perfect heirloom for any aspiring collector, or for those interested in the heritage of British coins.
Using secure push-fit blisters to display each coin in the collection, your collector page is also designed to fit neatly inside the Change Checker Album.
Secure yours for JUST £30.00 (+p&p) when you click here >>
In recent years, the 50 pence piece has become the most collected coin in the world.
But here at Change Checker, we get asked a lot about the older specification 50p coins… “How many old 50ps are there to collect? How rare are my old 50ps? Can I still find these coins in circulation?” are just a few of the questions frequently asked.
So, we’ve put together a guide answering your questions and giving you the key facts we think you need to know about these out-of-circulation coins!
What are old specification 50ps?
The 50p emerged in 1969 as the first coin in the new decimal series.
It was also the world’s first seven-sided coin and has since become the most collected coin in the country!
In 1997, the specification for the 50p changed to the size and feel we’re familiar with today.
But, between 1969-1997, there were five 50p coins issued in these older specifications. But what was different about these coins?
Spot the difference
|Pre-1997 (old specification)||1998 onwards (new specification)|
| Obverse |
|1969-1985 – 2nd Portrait, Arnold Machin |
1985-1997 – 3rd Portrait, Raphael Maklouf
|1998-2015 – 4th Portrait, Ian Rank-Broadley |
2015-onwards – 5th Portrait, Jody Clark
As you can see, despite the 50p retaining the same metal composition, the older specification was much bigger and heavier than the coin we’re used to today – imagine carrying around a bundle of those in your pockets!
These coins were removed from circulation when the new specifications were introduced, so you won’t come across these in your change.
What’s more, shop keepers and banks won’t accept these as legal tender, so we imagine a lot of these will have been kept by collectors for their private collections!
So, how many of these coins were issued? Let’s take a look at our Pre-1997 50p Mintage Chart and see..
You might have spotted the top coin in our chart has a mintage of JUST 109,000! Let’s take a look at each of these coins in closer detail to get the full story..
1969 Britannia New Pence
- Year of Issue: 1969-1981
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
- Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
- Mintage: 594,917,500
The New Pence 50p was the first 50p coin ever issued and it featured Christopher Ironside’s iconic Britannia design.
Britannia first appeared on UK coinage in 1672 and since then has always been present on at least one denomination.
With a mintage of 594,917,500 is the most common of the pre-1997 50p designs, which is hardly surprising as it was the definitive 50p design between 1969-1981.
Despite it’s considerably high circulating mintage, this coin is still considered collectible as it’s no longer in circulation.
1973 Entry to the EEC 50p
- Year of Issue: 1973
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin
- Reverse Designer: David Wynne
- Mintage: 89,775,000
This coin was issued to celebrate the UK’s entry to the EU (then called the European Economic Council or the EEC).
With a mintage of 89,775,000 it is less common that the definitive design but not the rarest out there!
It is still incredibly sought-after by collectors though as this was the FIRST-EVER commemorative 50p!
1982 Britannia Fifty Pence
- Year of Issue: 1982/83/85
- Obverse Designer: Arnold Machin (1982/82) Raphael Maklouf (1985)
- Reverse Designer: Christopher Ironside
- Mintage: 114,819,007
In 1982 the ‘New Pence’ in the design was replaced with ‘Fifty Pence’ as the design was no longer considered new.
Although still the definitive design, this coin was only issued in 1982, 1983 and 1985 and featured two different portraits of Her Majesty on the obverse! Machin in ’82 and ’83 and the new Maklouf portrait in ’85.
With a mintage of 114,819,007, it’s the second most-common of the Pre-1997 50ps.
1992/93 EC Presidency 50p
- Year of Issue: 1992/93
- Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
- Reverse Designer: Mary Milner
- Mintage: 109,000
Designed by Mary Milner, this 50p celebrates the UK’s presidency of the European Council of Ministers.
Excitingly, this 50p is the RAREST ever UK 50p to enter circulation. With a mintage of just 109,000 it’s even rarer than the sought-after Kew Gardens 50p which has a mintage of 210,000.
As this coin is no longer in circulation AND has the lowest ever UK 50p circulating mintage, it’s incredibly sought-after by collectors and if you’re lucky enough to have one in your collection, you should be extremely pleased!
1994 D-Day Landings 50p
- Year of Issue: 1994
- Obverse Designer: Raphael Maklouf
- Reverse Designer: John Mills
- Mintage: 6,705,520
Issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings, this was the final 50p issued in the older specifications.
Interestingly, this has been voted Change Checkers ‘Favourite Ever’ 50p!
With a mintage of 6,705,520 it is the second rarest of the pre-1997 50p coins.
So hopefully our guide to the Pre-1997 50p coins will help you along the way to expanding your collection!
What’s most exciting about all five of these coins is that now they’re out of circulation, they are all considered particularly sought-after by collectors!
Do you have any of these coins in your collection already? Let us know in the comments below!
Own the UK’s FIRST-EVER Commemorative 50p
Ancient Greek civilisation provided the foundations for Western culture and one of the empire’s most recognised legacies is Greek mythology, which had an extensive influence on arts and literature in the West. Greek myths tended to describe the lives of Greek Gods including their births, victories in battle, love affairs and their connection to certain city-states.
One artifact which pays homage to Greek mythology is Ancient Greek coinage. Greek currency was the first to be minted on an imperial scale and has influenced commerce across the world.
Coins were hugely important as a medium of exchange and an important store of value and source of prestige. Greek coins used a combination of figures, symbols and inscriptions to symbolise each ruler’s territory. Each city state in Ancient Greece was said to be protected by a certain character from Greek mythology and one of the most identifiable features of Greek coinage are the Gods and Goddesses which are struck on many of the coins of the time.
This blog takes a look at some of the most famous myths that were struck on coins from the time, some over 2,000 years old!
Zeus ‘King of the Gods’
Issued in the 2nd century BC this coin depicts Zeus the chief of the gods and believed to be the ruler of mankind. It’s believe that Zeus saved his brothers, Poseidon and Hades, after they had been eaten by their father Cronus. The three of them divided creation between them. As the Father God, Zeus was the dispenser of good and evil and the upholder of morality.
Hercules ‘Son of Zeus‘
Alexander the Great often issued coins depicting himself dressed as Hercules, wearing a headdress made of the scalp of the Nemean lion – one of Hercules’ “12 tests”. Hercules is famed for being the strongest of all mortals. However, his physical power was offset by a lack of intelligence and strong emotions. Many of Hercules’ great deeds occurred while doing penance for stupid acts done in anger or carelessness.
Apollo ‘God of Music’
This coin is an example of one of many coins issued depicting Apollo, the son of Zeus. Apollo is considered a complex god of many things including music, poetry, art, oracles, archery, plague, medicine, sun, and knowledge. He is often depicted playing the lyre and is represented as an ever youthful god.
Ares ‘God of War’
Issued in the 1st Century BC this coin depicts Ares, the God of war and violence. Fittingly the reverse of this coin features a sword. Ares was a superior fighter in battle and caused great bloodshed and destruction, but he also had a reputation for being cowardly.
The Dioscuri ‘Patron Saint of Sailors’
This coin features the Dioscuri; the twin brothers of Castor and Pollux. Pollux, the son of Zeus, was immortal but Castor was mortal. When Castor was murdered, Pollux asked his father Zeus if he could share his immortality with his brother. So they transformed into the constellation Gemini, able to travel back and forth between Olympus and Hades. They are also known as protectors of sailors, able to calm the seas and winds in storms.
Medusa was the only mortal of the three powerful winged Gorgon sisters. It is believed that Medusa was transformed into a monster by Athena. Medusa’s hair was made of snakes, although it is depicted as wild leaves on this coin, and she was said to be able to turn people to stone with a glance. She was killed by the hero Perseus, who used the metal of his shield as a mirror to avoid eye contact with Medusa.
Histiaea ‘Patron Saint of Histiaea’
This small silver coin is known as a “tertobol” and weighs just over 2 grams. It pictures Histiaea, the nymph, on both the obverse and reverse. Histiaea was named after the ancient city of Histiaea on the second largest Greek island, Euboea. Mythical Naiads lived in the lakes here and being immortal, were invited to the assemblies of the gods on Mount Olympus.
Poseidon ‘God of the Sea’
Poseidon was worshipped as the god of the sea, earthquakes and horses. Poseidon is often portrayed with his best known weapon, the trident, which he used to shake the earth and create storms, causing devastating earthquakes and tsunamis. It is this trident that is featured on the reverse of this coin. The coin was issued by the Syracuse in the 3rd Century BC, as Poseidon was greatly important to them as a maritime city/state.
Tyche ‘Goddess of Cities’
Tyche was the personification of fortune and controlled the luck and prosperity of a city. On this coin she is depicted with a crown of city walls and the reverse depicts a cornucopia, a symbol of good fortune. Tyche was said to have carried a large horn containing riches, which she would sporadically spread to individuals and cities. When no cause could be discovered for events such as floods, droughts or political upheaval, they were often attributed to Tyche
I think this just goes to show how historical events, stories and myths are immortalised on coins to be remembered for generations. And in years to come, our own ancestors may look back at the decimal coins from our era as a window into the past…
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