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Fifty pence
Value 50 pence sterling
Mass g
Diameter 27.3 mm
Thickness 1.78 mm
Edge Plain
Composition 75% Cu, 25% Ni
Years of minting 1997–present
Catalog number
Obverse
Obverse
Design Queen Elizabeth II
Designer Ian Rank-Broadley
Design date 1998
Reverse
Reverse
Design Bottom Apex of the Royal Shield
Designer Matthew Dent
Design date 2008

The British decimal fifty pence (50p) coin – often pronounced "fifty pee" – was issued on 14 October 1969 in the run-up to decimalisation to replace the ten shilling note. Despite the coin's novel shape, there was initial confusion amongst some members of the public, with the coin being mistaken for both the old half crown and the new ten pence piece.[1]

The coin is minted from an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. Between 1969 and 1997 the coin weighed 13.50 grams and had a diameter of 30.0 millimetres. In 1997 the coin was reduced in size to weigh 8.00 grams with a diameter of 27.3 millimetres. Apart from the reduction in size the design remained essentially the same (although the original is no longer legal tender).

The coin is not circular but is an equilaterally curved heptagon to aid identification. The sides are not straight but are curved so that the centre of curvature is the opposite apex of the coin. In other words, whilst the coin is of a shape which doesn't have a fixed radius about any point, it does have a fixed diameter as a minimum dimension across the face of the coin. This allows the coin to be more easily used and verified as legal tender automatically in vending machines and slot machines for example and also to roll freely (see also curve of constant width). The same shape, though of a smaller diameter, was also later used for the twenty pence piece.

The current reverse of the coin was designed by Matthew Dent who in April 2008 won a Royal Mint competition to redesign the reverses of all circulating coins (except the £2 coin).[2] It depicts the lowest point of the Royal Shield, with the words FIFTY PENCE below the point of the shield. The original reverse of the coin, designed by Christopher Ironside, depicted a seated Britannia alongside a lion, accompanied by either NEW PENCE (1969-1982) or FIFTY PENCE above Britannia, with the numeral 50 underneath the seated figure.

Three different obverses have been used so far – from 1969 to 1984 the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin, from 1985 to 1997 the head by Raphael Maklouf, and since 1998 the head by Ian Rank-Broadley.

As of December 2005 there were an estimated 769 million 50p coins in circulation.[3]

Contents

Variations

Up to 2009 there have been twenty varieties of 50p coin, six large and fourteen small, as follows.

Large – standard design

British fifty pence coin 1969.JPG 1969–1972, 1974–1981
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date,
starting to the right of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, NEW PENCE above.
Dates 1971–1972 and 1974–1975 were issued in collectors' sets only.
British fifty pence coin 1982.JPG 1982–1984
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the right of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
Date 1984 only available in collectors' sets.
British fifty pence coin 1982.JPG 1985–1993, 1995–1997
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
All dates except 1985 available in collectors' sets only. Demand for the 50p coin decreased with the issue of one pound coins in 1983.

Large – commemorative issues

50p coin commemorating Britains accession to the EEC 1973: Commemorates the UK's accession to the European Economic Community.
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D, starting to the right of the head, no date.
Reverse: Nine clasped hands, 1973 50 PENCE in the centre. The design originally had the word EUROPE in the middle, but this was vetoed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[4]
1992/3 British Presidency of EC 50p coin 1992–3: Commemorates the completion of the EC single market and the British presidency of the EC.
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Conference table with seats and stars, 50 PENCE below, 1992 1993 above.
Very few issued into circulation.
British fifty pence coin 1994 D-Day.JPG 1994: 50th anniversary of the Normandy Landings ("D-Day").
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 1994, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: An invasion force of ships and planes, 50 PENCE to the right. Designed by John W Mills.
Relatively small numbers issued into circulation.

Small – standard design

British fifty pence coin 1982.JPG 1997
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 1997, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
Issued only in 1997, but in very large numbers as it had to replace all the earlier types of 50p coin, which were withdrawn from circulation within 6 months.
British fifty pence coin 1982.JPG 1998–2008[5]
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
British fifty pence coin 2008 sheild.png 2008–
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: The bottom apex of the Royal Shield as part of the Matthew Dent design implemented across the UK coinage in 2008, FIFTY PENCE below.

Small – commemorative issues

1998 EU Commemorative 50p coin 1998: 25th anniversary of Britain joining the EU.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Arrangement of 12 stars with 1973 EU 1998 underneath and 50 PENCE below. Designed by John W Mills.
5 million coins in circulation.[6]
1998 NHS Commemorative 50p coin 1998: 50th anniversary of the National Health Service.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Caring hands holding sun's rays, FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY above and 50 PENCE below, NHS repeated 5 times around the border.
5 million coins in circulation.[6]
1998 Public Libraries Commemorative 50p coin 2000: 150th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act of 1850.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2000, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Open book above pillared building inscribed PUBLIC LIBRARIES 1850 2000 above and 50 PENCE to the right.
11.3 million coins in circulation.[6]
2003 Suffragettes Commemorative 50p coin 2003: Centenary of the Women's Social and Political Union (the Suffragettes).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2003, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Suffragette chained to railing holding a banner inscribed WSPU in her left hand, 50 PENCE to the left and a billboard inscribed GIVE WOMEN THE VOTE to the right, with 1903 below and 2003 to the right.
3.1 million coins in circulation.[6]
2004 four-minute-mile Commemorative 50p coin 2004: 50th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile, Roger Bannister, 6 May 1954.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2004, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Lower body of a runner, superimposed on a stopwatch showing 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Large 50 and PENCE at bottom, between runner's legs.
9 million coins in circulation.[6]
2005 Johnson's Dictionary Commemorative 50p coin 2005: 250th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2005, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: 50 at top, with the dictionary definitions of 'fifty' and 'pence', JOHNSON'S DICTIONARY 1755 at bottom.
17.6 million coins in circulation.[6]
2006 Victoria Cross Commemorative 50p coin 2006: 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Pictures of both sides of the Victoria Cross, inscribed 29 JAN 1856 with VC FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Claire Aldridge.
12.1 million coins in circulation.[6]
2006 Victoria Cross Commemorative 50p coin 2006: 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Soldier carrying wounded comrade, FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Clive Duncan.
10 million coins in circulation.[6]
2006 Scout Movement Commemorative 50p coin 2007: 100th anniversary of the Scout Movement.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2007, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: The traditional Scouting fleur-de-lys, FIFTY PENCE above, scouting motto BE PREPARED below. Designed by Kerry Jones, Royal Mint engraver/designer.
7.7 million coins in circulation.[6]
250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew 2009: 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.[7]
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2009, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Design showing the pagoda that is located in the gardens, encircled by a double helix of vine and accompanied by the dates 1759 and 2009, with the word KEW at the base of the pagoda.
London 2012 Olympic Games - Athletics Design 2009: London 2012 Olympic Games – Athletics Design[8]
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2009, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Olympic design illustrating athletics, designed by 9-year-old Florence Jackson. Features the London 2012 logo.
Girl Guiding 2010: 100th Anniversary of the Girl Guides
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2010, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: An encircled small logo of the Girlguiding UK, the fleur-de-lis with a star, surrounded by 6 of the same logo but larger and not encircled and itself surrounded by the worlds CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF GIRLGUIDING UK. At the base appear the words 50 and below that PENCE.

Mintages for circulation strikes

  • 1969 ~ 188,400,000
  • 1970 ~ 19,461,500
  • 1971-1972 ~ none
  • 1973 ~ 89,775,000
  • 1974-1975 ~ none
  • 1976 ~ 43,746,500
  • 1977 ~ 49,536,000
  • 1978 ~ 72,005,500
  • 1979 ~ 58,680,000
  • 1980 ~ 89,086,000
  • 1981 ~ 74,002,000
  • 1982 ~ 51,312,000
  • 1983 ~ 62,824,904
  • 1984 ~ none
  • 1985 ~ 682,103
  • 1986-1991 ~ none
  • 1992 ~ 109,000
  • 1993 ~ none
  • 1994 ~ 6,705,520
  • 1995-1996 ~ none

size reduced

  • 1997 ~ 456,364,100
  • 1998 ~ 64,306,500
  • 1999 ~ 24,905,000
  • 2000 ~ 17,915,500
  • 2001 ~ 84,998,500
  • 2002 ~ 23,907,500
  • 2003 ~ 23,583,000
  • 2004 ~ 35,315,500
  • 2005 ~ 25,363,500
  • 2006 ~ 24,567,000
  • 2007 ~ 5,300,000
  • 2008 ~ 700,000 (Britannia design)
  • 2008 ~ 12,320,000 (New Matthew Dent design)[6]

External links

References

Preceded by
Ten shilling note
Half Pound
1971–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

Fifty pence
United Kingdom
Value 50 pence sterling
Mass g
Diameter 27.3 mm
Thickness 1.78 mm
Edge Plain
Composition 75% Cu, 25%Ni
Years of minting 1997–present
Catalog number
Obverse
File:British 50 pence
Design Queen Elizabeth II
Designer Ian Rank-Broadley
Design date 1998
Reverse
File:New 50p
Design Bottom Apex of the Royal Shield
Designer Matthew Dent
Design date 2008

The British decimal fifty pence (50p) coin – often pronounced "fifty pee" – was issued on 14 October 1969 in the run-up to decimalisation to replace the ten shilling note. Despite the coin's novel shape, there was initial confusion amongst some members of the public, with the coin being mistaken for both the old half crown and the new ten pence piece.[1]

The coin is minted from an alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel. Between 1969 and 1997 the coin weighed 13.50 grams and had a diameter of 30.0 millimetres. In 1997 the coin was reduced in size to weigh 8.00 grams with a diameter of 27.3 millimetres. Apart from the reduction in size the design remained essentially the same (although the original is no longer legal tender).

The coin is not circular but is an equilaterally curved heptagon to aid identification. The sides are not straight but are curved so that the centre of curvature is the opposite apex of the coin. In other words, whilst the coin is of a shape which doesn't have a fixed radius about any point, it does have a fixed diameter as a minimum dimension across the face of the coin. This allows the coin to be more easily used and verified as legal tender automatically in vending machines and slot machines for example and also to roll freely (see also curve of constant width). The same shape, though of a smaller diameter, was also later used for the twenty pence piece.

The current reverse of the coin was designed by Matthew Dent who in April 2008 won a Royal Mint competition to redesign the reverses of all circulating coins (except the £2 coin).[2] It depicts the lowest point of the Royal Shield, with the words FIFTY PENCE below the point of the shield. The original reverse of the coin, designed by Christopher Ironside, depicted a seated Britannia alongside a lion, accompanied by either NEW PENCE (1969-1982) or FIFTY PENCE above Britannia, with the numeral 50 underneath the seated figure.

Three different obverses have been used so far – from 1969 to 1984 the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin, from 1985 to 1997 the head by Raphael Maklouf, and since 1998 the head by Ian Rank-Broadley.

As of December 2005 there were an estimated 769 million 50p coins in circulation.[3]

Contents

Variations

Up to 2008 there have been eighteen varieties of 50p coin, six large and twelve small, as follows.

Large – standard design

File:British fifty pence coin 1969–1972, 1974–1981
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date,
starting to the right of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, NEW PENCE above.
Dates 1971–1972 and 1974–1975 were issued in collectors' sets only.
File:British fifty pence coin 1982–1984
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the right of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
Date 1984 only available in collectors' sets.
File:British fifty pence coin 1985–1993, 1995–1997
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
All dates except 1985 available in collectors' sets only. Demand for the 50p coin decreased with the issue of one pound coins in 1983.

Large – commemorative issues

File:British fifty pence coin 1983 1973: Commemorates the UK's accession to the European Economic Community.
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D, starting to the right of the head, no date.
Reverse: Nine clasped hands, 1973 50 PENCE in the centre. The design originally had the word EUROPE in the middle, but this was vetoed by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.[4]
File:British fifty pence coin 1992 1992–3: Commemorates the completion of the EC single market and the British presidency of the EC.
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Conference table with seats and stars, 50 PENCE below, 1992 1993 above.
Very few issued into circulation.
File:British fifty pence coin 1994 1994: 50th anniversary of the Normandy Landings ("D-Day").
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 1994, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: An invasion force of ships and planes, 50 PENCE to the right. Designed by John W Mills.
Relatively small numbers issued into circulation.

Small – standard design

File:British fifty pence coin 1997
Obverse: Maklouf head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 1997, starting to the bottom left of the head.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
Issued only in 1997, but in very large numbers as it had to replace all the earlier types of 50p coin, which were withdrawn from circulation within 6 months.
File:British fifty pence coin 1998–2008[5]
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above.
File:British fifty pence coin 2008 2008–
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: The bottom apex of the Royal Shield as part of the Matthew Dent design implemented across the UK coinage in 2008, FIFTY PENCE below.

Small – commemorative issues

File:British fifty pence coin 1998 1998: 25th anniversary of Britain joining the EU.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Arrangement of 12 stars with 1973 EU 1998 underneath and 50 PENCE below. Designed by John W Mills.
5 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 1998 1998: 50th anniversary of the National Health Service.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Caring hands holding sun's rays, FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY above and 50 PENCE below, NHS repeated 5 times around the border.
5 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2000 Public 2000: 150th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act of 1850.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2000, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Open book above pillared building inscribed PUBLIC LIBRARIES 1850 2000 above and 50 PENCE to the right.
11.3 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2003 Woman 2003: Centenary of the Women's Social and Political Union (the Suffragettes).
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2003, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Suffragette chained to railing holding a banner inscribed WSPU in her left hand, 50 PENCE to the left and a billboard inscribed GIVE WOMEN THE VOTE to the right, with 1903 below and 2003 to the right.
3.1 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2004 Roger 2004: 50th anniversary of the first sub-four-minute mile, Roger Bannister, 6 May 1954.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2004, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Lower body of a runner, superimposed on a stopwatch showing 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. Large 50 and PENCE at bottom, between runner's legs.
9 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2005 Dictonary 2005: 250th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2005, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: 50 at top, with the dictionary definitions of 'fifty' and 'pence'.
17.6 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2006 VC 2006: 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Pictures of both sides of the Victoria Cross, inscribed 29 JAN 1856 with VC FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Claire Aldridge.
12.1 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2006 VC Act of 2006: 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Soldier carrying wounded comrade, FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Clive Duncan.
10 million coins in circulation. [6]
File:British fifty pence coin 2007 2007: 100th anniversary of the Scout Movement.
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2007, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: The traditional Scouting fleur-de-lys, FIFTY PENCE above, scouting motto BE PREPARED below. Designed by Kerry Jones, Royal Mint engraver/designer.
7.7 million coins in circulation. [6]
2009: 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.[7]
Obverse: Rank-Broadley head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2007, starting to the bottom left of the head, IRB under the bust.
Reverse: Design showing the pagoda that is located in the gardens, encircled by a double helix of vine and accompanied by the dates 1759 and 2009, with the word KEW at the base of the pagoda.

Mintages for circulation strikes

  • 1969 ~ 188,400,000
  • 1970 ~ 19,461,500
  • 1971-1972 ~ none
  • 1973 ~ 89,775,000
  • 1974-1975 ~ none
  • 1976 ~ 43,746,500
  • 1977 ~ 49,536,000
  • 1978 ~ 72,005,500
  • 1979 ~ 58,680,000
  • 1980 ~ 89,086,000
  • 1981 ~ 74,002,000
  • 1982 ~ 51,312,000
  • 1983 ~ 62,824,904
  • 1984 ~ none
  • 1985 ~ 682,103
  • 1986-1991 ~ none
  • 1992 ~ 109,000
  • 1993 ~ none
  • 1994 ~ 6,705,520
  • 1995-1996 ~ none

size reduced

  • 1997 ~ 456,364,100
  • 1998 ~ 64,306,500
  • 1999 ~ 24,905,000
  • 2000 ~ 17,915,500
  • 2001 ~ 84,998,500
  • 2002 ~ 23,907,500
  • 2003 ~ 23,583,000
  • 2004 ~ 35,315,500
  • 2005 ~ 25,363,500
  • 2006 ~ 24,567,000
  • 2007 ~ 5,300,000
  • 2008 ~ 700,000 (Britannia design)
  • 2008 ~ 12,320,000 (New Matthew Dent design) [6]

External links

References

Preceded by
Ten shilling note
Half Pound
1971–Present
Succeeded by
Incumbent

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