Published on January 14th, 2019 | by Sam Rose

Marking the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Coin

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Coin. Join us as we look back at its creation and learn more about the new commemorative set released by the Royal Mint celebrating this event!

Known as a replacement to the 10 shilling note, the 50p coin has been a staple of British currency since its release into circulation in 1969. 2019 marks 50 years since 50p coins landed into our purses, wallets and collections, so we felt it was only fitting to have a look at the creation of this history-making piece of currency!

Creation of the 50p Coin

What’s interesting to note is that the first introduction of the 50p coin wasn’t as well received as you may think. In fact, many who began to see or put the coin into use felt its irregular heptagonal shape made it easy to confuse with the 10p coin which was in circulation at the time. Introducing the 50p coin was also part of wider plan of the Government at the time in order to turn all British currency completely decimal based. This plan would go ahead in February 1971, meaning that the 50p was certainly here to stay, whether much of the public did indeed like it or not!

Evolution of the 50p

Whilst the use of the 50p coin certainly hasn’t changed much over the years, its overall design has undergone several tweaks and alterations. From its original inception all the way up to 2008, the 50p has featured an image of the Goddess Britannia from the Roman age. The image, designed by Christopher Ironside, contains the Goddess Britannia sat alongside a lion, whilst holding an olive branch in her left hand and a trident in her right. Accompanying the image were either the words ‘NEW PENCE’ (1969 – 1981) or ‘FIFTY PENCE’ (1982 – 2008)’ imprinted above Britannia, with the numeral denomination of 50p placed underneath the main image.

50p Coin Redesign

Design Alterations

The obverse of the coin has also been a few notable changes too. Whilst in all cases the coin inscription features the words ‘ELIZABETH II D.G. REG. F.D 2013’ and is paired with the year of minting (2003, 2004 etc.), several different figures have adorned the second side to the 50p coin. Up until 1984, a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin has appeared on the obverse of every 50 pence piece. However, this was altered between 1985 and 1997, as an updated portrait by the sculptor Raphael Maklouf was used instead. The key difference? In Machin’s portrait, the Queen wears the ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’ Tiara. Yet, in Maklouf’s version, she is instead wearing the George IV State Diadem.

Some further changes to the coin include a reduction in it’s overall diameter and thickness in 1997, another updated portrait of the Queen by Ian Rank-Broadley featuring on the coin between 1998 and 2015 and a rotation of the obverse design in 2008 to further match a new reversed design (the main heptagonal point starting at the bottom of the coin instead of at the top).

Royal Mint Marks 50 Years of the 50p Coin

To coincide with the historic anniversary of the 50p coin, the Royal Mint has announced a brand-new collectable set of 50p coins which help to mark several important events in British history. As with many of today’s currency pieces, the 50p has featured several unique designs on its front which have marked historic occasions, anniversaries and even pop culture figures. Commenting on the selection process for the new collectible set, the Royal Mint say that the collection of five coins “features some of the nation’s most loved pence pieces”.

The coin set includes:

  • Sir Roger Bannister running the first sub four-minute mile in 1954
  • The 250th anniversary of the founding of Kew Gardens in London
  • The 100th anniversary of the Scouts (originally founded in 1907 by British cavalry officer Robert Baden-Powell)
  • 100 years of the Girl Guides, a movement first founded by Baden-Powell’s sister Agnes in 1910
  • The original version of the 50p coin (in circulation until 2008)

Start Your Coin Collecting Journey with the Post Office Shop

If one of the coins featured in Royal Mint’s collection sounds familiar then here’s why – according to Change Checker, the rarest 50p coin to be put into circulation is the Kew Gardens 50p. The coin is so valuable due to only 210,000 of this coin being put into production. According to the Royal Mint, 1 in 300 of the public may have one hiding around somewhere! How very Kew-l!

Why not join the hunt for this and many other exciting collectible coins with the Change Checker Complete Kit? Filled your book already? Don’t worry, we’ve also got Change Checker Additional Pages available too to help you continue with your coin collecting quest.

Change Checker Complete KitChange Checker Additional Pages

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