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Fifty pence coin

First issued

September 1997 – current size

Diameter

27.3mm

Weight

8g

Composition

Cupro-nickel (75% copper, 25% nickel)

Edge

Plain

Key dates

1969

As a result of inflation, it became apparent that the 10-shilling unit of currency was more suited to being a coin than a banknote. A coin can remain in circulation for decades whereas, by the late 1960s, 10-shilling banknotes were being used so intensively they lasted only a few months. With decimalisation imminent, the new coin was struck bearing the decimal denomination of 50p but it circulated for the first couple of years as a 10-shilling piece. To make the coin easily distinguishable, it was given the revolutionary new shape of an equilateral curve heptagon. With its constant rolling diameter, this shape is particularly suitable for vending machines.

1971

With the adoption of the decimal system, the value of the coins switched from ten shillings to fifty new pence. 

1982

The reverse inscription of 50p coins was changed from NEW PENCE to FIFTY PENCE.

1997

With a view to reducing the weight of the coinage, a smaller-sized 50p coin was issued from September. 

1998

The larger-sized pieces were demonetised at the end of February. 

2008

As part of a general re-design of the coinage, a new definitive reverse was introduced for the 50p coin.

Design

Obverse

1997
1998 to date

Designed by Raphael Maklouf
Designed by Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS

Definitive reverse

1997-2008 A figure of Britannia, seated beside a lion, with a shield resting against her right side, holding a trident in her right hand and an olive branch in her left hand
1997-
2008

A figure of Britannia, seated beside a lion, with a shield resting against her right side, holding a trident in her right hand and an olive branch in her left hand

Designed by Christopher Ironside

2008 to date A section of Our Royal Arms showing elements of the third and fourth quarterings
2008
to date

A section of the Royal Arms showing elements of the third and fourth quarterings

Designed by Matthew Dent

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Commemorative reverse


1998 Presidency of the European Union and 25th anniversary of accession to the European Economic Community

1998



Presidency of the European Union and 25th anniversary of accession to the European Economic Community

A celebratory arrangement of stars with the letters EU between the anniversary dates

Designed by John Mills

1998 50th anniversary of the National Health Service
1998

50th anniversary of the National Health Service

A pair of hands set against a pattern of radiating lines with the words FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY, accompanied by the initials NHS which appear five times on the outer border

Designed by David Cornell

2000 150th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act 1850

2000



150th anniversary of the Public Libraries Act 1850

The turning pages of a book above a classical library building on which appear the words PUBLIC LIBRARIES and, within the pediment, representations of compact discs

Designed by Mary Milner Dickens

2003 100th anniversary of the formation of the Women’s Social & Political Union

2003




100th anniversary of the formation of the Women’s Social & Political Union

The figure of a suffragette chained to railings and holding a banner on which appear the letters WSPU, and to the right a ballot paper marked with a cross and the words GIVE WOMEN THE VOTE

Designed by Mary Milner Dickens

2004 50th anniversary of the first four-minute mile

2004




50th anniversary of the first four-minute mile

The legs of a running athlete with a stylised stopwatch in the background

Designed by James Butler

2005 250th anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language

2005



250th anniversary of Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language

Entries from the Dictionary for the words FIFTY and PENCE, with the figure 50 above, and the inscription JOHNSON’S DICTIONARY 1755 below

Designed by Tom Phillips

2006 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross

2006




150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross

A depiction of the obverse and reverse of a Victoria Cross with the date 29. JAN 1856. in the centre of the reverse of the Cross

Designed by Claire Aldridge

2006 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross

2006



150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross

A depiction of a soldier carrying a wounded comrade with an outline of the Victoria Cross surrounded by a sunburst effect in the background

Designed by Clive Duncan

100th anniversary of the Scouting movement

2007





100th anniversary of the Scouting movement

A fleur-de-lis superimposed over a globe with the inscription BE PREPARED

Designed by Kerry Jones

2009 250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

2009






250th anniversary of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

A design showing the pagoda, a building strongly associated with Kew, encircled by a vine, with the word “KEW” at the base of the pagoda

Designed by Christopher Le Brun

2010 100th anniversary of the Girl Guiding movement

2010






100th anniversary of the Girl Guiding movement

A design which depicts a repeating pattern of the current identity of Girlguiding UK, accompanied by the inscription CELEBRATING ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF GIRLGUIDING UK

Designed by Jonathan Evans and Donna Hainan

2011 50th anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund

2011






50th anniversary of the World Wildlife Fund

A design which features 50 different icons symbolising projects and programmes that the World Wildlife Fund has supported over the course of the last 50 years, with the Panda logo of the organisation in the centre

Designed by Matthew Dent

2013 100th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Ironside
2013

100th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Ironside

A design showing the Royal Arms – prepared by Christopher Ironside for the 50p in the 1960s

Designed by Christopher Ironside

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