50p Coins – Could You Be Minted?

50p Coins – Could You Be Minted?

Introduction of the 50p

The 50p coin was first introduced to the UK on 14 October 1969, when the country’s imperial currency system was still in place. The revolutionary design saw it become the world’s first seven-sided coin. The coin replaced the 10-shilling note which ceased to be legal tender the following year. The issuing of the 50p was part of the UK’s transition to a decimal currency which was fully implemented on 15 February 1971. Today, there are estimated to be around 806 million 50p coins in circulation in the UK.

Design Changes

Since the 50p was first minted it has undergone several design changes. In 1997, the size of the coin was reduced from its 30 mm diameter to the current 27.3 mm. The coin’s composition has also changed since it was first introduced. Early 50p coins were made of cupronickel, while later versions were produced from nickel-brass.

As with all UK coins, the ‘observe’ (front face) 50p bears an image of the reigning monarch’s head. Britannia features on the ‘reverse’ side of the standard coins issued between 1969 and 2008. However, the reverse inscription from 2008 to date is a section of the Royal Coat of Arms. In addition, since the coin’s first introduction, the Royal Mint has regularly issued unique designs on the reverse to commemorate special events.

Collectability and Value

A Peter Rabbit 50p – one of the coin’s rarest designs          Photo credit: Flickr/CC BY SA 2.0

The fact that the Royal Mint issued so many limited-edition 50p ‘s has made them the most collected and valued post-decimal coins. Around 140 different designs of the 50p have been issued since 1997. The total number of coins issued for a special edition and the coin’s condition are the main factors in potential worth. However, if the coin also happens to have a design error, then this can add significantly to its value.

Some rare 50p coins have sold for as much as £900 (Kew Gardens) and reputedly much more. However, some of the reported multi-thousand-pound prices quoted on the internet for the very rarest of coins have not been officially verified. Nevertheless, it might be time to rummage through your loose change, root down the back of the sofa and raid that old piggy bank for potential 50p gold. There just might be a chance that you’re already minted.

According to Royal Mint data, here’s a list of the rarest special-edition 50p coins (in order of value)) issued to date:

  1. Any Extra-rare Design 50p
  2. Kew Gardens (2009)
  3. Olympic Football (2011)
  4. Olympic Wrestling (2011)
  5. Olympic Judo (2011)
  6. Olympic Triathlon (2011)
  7. Peter Rabbit (2018)
  8. Flopsy Bunny (2018)
  9. Olympic Tennis (2011)
  10. Olympic Goalball (2011)


Header image credit: Flickr/CC BY 2.0 DEED

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