Innovation in Science series continues, as Rosalind Franklin becomes first female scientist celebrated on a UK coin!

In the year that would have marked her 100th birthday, The Royal Mint have released a brand new 50p celebrating the life and crucial work of Rosalind Franklin.

2020 UK Rosalind Franklin 50p

David Knapton’s striking design of this coin, features a depiction of Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray, ‘Photograph 51’, which revealed the helical structure of DNA, in her laboratory at King’s College, London

This really is a coin full of numismatic firsts, as this is the first time that Franklin’s DNA story has featured on a UK coin, and it is also the very first time a female scientist has featured on a UK coin too!

Developed in collaboration with King’s College, London, this coin is available in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p). [link]

The Story Behind The Scientist

One of Britain’s greatest scientists, Franklin made a crucial finding to the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, yet her contribution was little known.

Rosalind Franklin with Microscope (1955). Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Applying X-ray diffraction methods to the study of DNA, enabled Franklin to discover the helical conformation of the molecule, in a photograph called, ‘Photograph 51’. This work laid the foundations for James Watson and Francis Crick to later establish that the structure of DNA was in fact a double-helix polymer (a spiral consisting of two DNA strands).

Tragically, at the age of just 37, Franklin passed away from ovarian cancer, robbing her of the same awards and recognitions that her colleagues were gifted.

To mark what would have been a very special birthday, this brand new 50p restores Franklin’s rightful legacy, and celebrates her significant role in the discovery of DNA, as she becomes The Royal Mint’s second Innovator in Science.

However, this brand new Rosalind Franklin 50p isn’t the only UK coin to celebrate great British scientists… it’s the second release in The Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series!

2019 Stephen Hawking 50p

2019 Stephen Hawking 50p

In 2019, less than a year since his death, The Royal Mint released a Stephen Hawking 50p coin, honouring his works as one of the most influential physicists of the modern age.

He became the very first person to be celebrated in The Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series and only the third person to be commemorated on a coin within a year of their death (the others being Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother!)

The reverse of the coin, designed by Edwina Ellis, features a stylised black hole and the inscription ‘Stephen Hawking’ . It also shows the Bekenstein-Hawking formula, which describes the thermodynamic entropy of a black hole!

There are a number of other UK 50p and £2 coins of a similar theme which you can look out for in your change…

2003 DNA £2

2003 DNA £2

In 2003, to mark the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick‘s discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin.

As we mentioned above, had Rosalind Franklin not discovered the helical conformation of DNA, Watson and Crick may never have established it’s double-helix structure!

They found a twisted strand of deoxyribonucleic acid, intertwined in such a way that they could pull apart, replicate themselves, and pass their genetic code from old cells to new.

The coin’s design pays tribute to this ‘double-helix’ structure and has a mintage of 4,299,000.

2017 Isaac Newton 50p

2017 Sir Isaac Newton 50p

Sir Isaac Newton is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and a key figure in the scientific revolution.

He changed our understanding of mathematics and physics, redefined the way we see the world and shaped the security of our currency in his role as Master of the Mint.

Designed by Aaron West, this 50p coin was issued to commemorate the achievements of Sir Isaac Newton and it remembers the legacy he left.

It has a circulating mintage of just 1,801,500.

2009 Darwin £2

2009 Charles Darwin £2

In 2009, The Royal Mint celebrated 200 years since Charles Darwin’s birth and 150 years since the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ by issuing this £2 coin. It has a circulating mintage of 3,903,000.

Darwin has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history and was known as the ‘father of evolution’.

At the time of publication in 1859, his book was extremely controversial as it made it seem possible that humans evolved from apes, which contradicted the widely held Orthodox Church theory of creation!

2001 Wireless Transmission £2

2001 Wireless Transmission £2

In 1901, Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian physicist, succeeded in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving theories that the curvature of the earth would limit the transmission to 200 miles or less.

The message – simply containing the Morse code signal for the letter ‘s’ – travelled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall to Newfoundland in Canada and won him worldwide fame and a Nobel Prize in physics in 1909.

In 2001, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first wireless transmission, The Royal Mint issued this £2 coin. It entered circulation and has a mintage of 4,558,000.

We’re so excited by this brand new 50p release and we can’t wait to find out who else will feature in the Innovation in Science series!

Who do you think should be chosen to be featured alongside Stephen Hawking and Rosalind Franklin?

Secure the BRAND NEW Rosalind Franklin 50p for just £4.50 (+p&p)

Click here to secure the 2020 Rosalind Franklin 50p in Brilliant Uncirculated quality for just £4.50 (+p&p) >>

Brand new 50p released as Stephen Hawking goes down in numismatic history!

Less than a year since his death, The Royal Mint have released a brand new Stephen Hawking 50p coin, honouring his works as one of the most influential physicists of the modern age.

Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’ enlightened millions to the workings of the universe and revolutionised the way we understand time and space. As an ambassador for science, his significant contributions to humanity have left a lasting presence on all of us.

The exciting release of this coin makes Hawking one of only three people to be immortalised on a coin so soon after his passing, putting him alongside Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother in the history of famous figures commemorated on a UK coin within a year of their passing.

1965 Churchill Crown and 2002 Queen Mother Memorial £5 – both issued within a year of their death.

To commemorate Britain’s most famous physicist, a man who brought science to life in a way that the everyday person could connect with, this brand new 50p has been issued in Brilliant Uncirculated, Silver Proof and Gold Proof editions.

The striking design by Edwina Ellis features a stylised black hole to reflect his breakthrough work, as well as an inscription of his name and most notable ‘Bekenstein-Hawking formula’ describing the thermodynamic entropy of a black hole.

Edwina said of the design“Stephen Hawking made difficult subjects accessible, engaging and relatable and this is what I wanted to portray in my design, which is inspired by a lecture he gave in Chile in 2008. Hawking, at his playful best, invites the audience to contemplate peering into a black hole before diving in. I wanted to fit a big black hole on the tiny coin and wish he was still here chortling at the thought. I am sure he would have thought of ways to harness the shiny table of the coin too. You feel he cared about all of us understanding.” 

Excitingly, this is actually the first coin issued as part of a four coin series issued by The Royal Mint to celebrate ‘innovators in science’ and so it seems only fitting that the very first coin should feature Stephen Hawking.

We’re yet to find out who will feature on the next three coins, but who do you think should be chosen to be featured alongside Stephen Hawking?

Secure the BRAND NEW Stephen Hawking 50p for just £4.50 (+p&p)

This coin won’t be entering circulation, but you can add it to your collection in superior collector’s quality.

Click here to secure the Brilliant Uncirculated Stephen Hawking 50p for your collection for just £4.50 >>

The Stephen Hawking 50p – what we know so far…

A Stephen Hawking 50p has just been announced and this new coin for 2019 is set to be out of this world!



The latest Royal Proclamation has revealed that a brand new 50p coin will be issued by The Royal Mint this year, celebrating the life of one of the world’s most acclaimed physicists and ambassadors for science – Stephen Hawking.

The 50p design will feature a stylized depiction of a black hole with the inscription “STEPHEN HAWKING” and the entropy equation.

As a great innovator in his field and one of the most famous British scientists of modern times, it seems a fitting tribute that a new coin should be issued featuring Stephen Hawking.

His breakthrough ideas on the workings of the universe can be seen as a significant contribution to humanity, making the complexities of physics relatable for the everyday person.

Interestingly, Stephen Hawking could become one of only three people in British history to be commemorated on a coin within a year of their death, alongside Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.

Although all the details have not been released yet and the actual design is still top secret, it seems likely that the Stephen Hawking 50p coin will be hugely popular with the British public.

Stay up to date with all the latest Stephen Hawking news…

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