Published On: Wed, Oct 9th, 2019

Royal Mint unveils limited edition commemorative 50p coin as piece turns 50

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The Royal Mint is celebrating the iconic 50p piece turning 50 years old. To honour this, The Royal Mint has unveiled a limited edition commemorative coin featuring an updated version of the inaugural design, created by Christopher Ironside. The new coin carries a minting first – a special privy mark struck on the outer rim of the reverse spit which references the science behind its shape. Despite being named a “monstrous piece of metal” at its creation in 1969, the 50p piece has long since won the British public’s affection and has featured over 60 designs on the reverse.

These designs have championed the military, key political moments, sporting achievements and many other aspects of British culture. 

During the design process which resulted in the ‘equilateral curve heptagon’ that we know today, the 50p went through several transformations.

Early designs of the 50p included ten and twelve-sided versions. A square coin with rounded corners was even suggested.

The iconic seven-sided shape was suggested by Hugh Conway, a member of the Decimal Currency Board, and his team of engineers.

The seven-sided design was preferred as it was easily distinguishable from other coins both by feel and by sight and its shape allows it to roll in vending machines and parking meters.

Director of Consumer of the Royal Mint, Nicola Howell said: “Over the last 50 years the 50p has grown to become one of the most collectable coins. 

“Its iconic and revolutionary shape is distinctive, and has led to it becoming one of the most loved coins amongst the public. It is an honour to mark such a significant anniversary with this commemorative 50p, featuring Christopher Ironside’s design.”

The Royal Mint has an unbroken history of minting British coinage dating back over 1,100 years. Based in the Tower of London for over 500 years, by 1812 The Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967, the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in South Wales, UK, to accommodate the minting of UK decimal coinage.

Today, The Royal Mint is the world’s largest export mint, supplying coins to the UK and overseas countries.

The Royal Mint has also diversified into a number of other complementary businesses, building on the values that have been at the heart of the organisation throughout its history – authenticity, security, precious metals, craftsmanship and design.

As well as releasing the coin, The Royal Mint Experience, based in Llantrisant South Wales, will also be hosting a special exhibition, focused on the development and design process behind the coin. The exhibition will feature never-before-seen experimental designs struck from aircraft steel, as well as a host of other items connected with the history of the coin.

The 50 years of 50p exhibition at The Royal Mint Experience will open on 11 October. Visitors will also be able to strike their own version of the anniversary 50p.

The commemorative 50p coin will be available to purchase from in a range of precious metal and brilliant uncirculated finishes; prices start from £10.

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