Uncovering the U.K.’s rarest 50-pence coins

With today marking the 50th anniversary of U.K. decimalization – known as “Decimal Day” across the pond – the Royal Mint has issued a report detailing its rarest 50-pence circulation coins.

The 2009 Kew Garden coin remains the rarest 50-pence piece in circulation, according to the Royal Mint, which also published its 2019 mintage figures. That year, more than 500 million coins were released into circulation (including three new 50-pence designs celebrating Arthur Conon Doyle’s iconic Sherlock Holmes, plus Paddington the Bear at St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London).

“The 50-p was introduced as part of decimalization and has grown to become Britain’s favourite coin. The innovate shape of the coin makes it perfect for commemorative designs, and over the years we’ve commemorated many iconic occasions, events and individuals on a 50-p,” said the mint’s director of U.K. currency Mark Loveridge.

“Coin collecting remains as popular as ever, and we were delighted to release a number of special designs into circulation in 2019. The Kew Gardens remains the most coveted coin with a mintage of just 210,000, but it’s always exciting to find a special design in your change. As we approach the 50th anniversary of decimalization, we are proud that this iconic work of art remains in the nation’s pocket.”

‘DECIMAL DAY’

The United Kingdom marks Decimal Day on Feb. 15, the date in 1971 when many of today’s circulation coins were introduced.

The changeover inspired thousands of people to become coin collectors, according to the mint, and over the decades, the 50-pence coin grew to become Britain’s most collectible coin.

The shape of the 50-pence coin made it an ideal canvas for commemorative designs, and more than 70 events, anniversaries and individuals have been celebrated on circulation coins issued in that denomination. The famous 2009 Kew Gardens issue remains the most coveted 50-pence coin in circulation, with a mintage of 210,000. Other rare 50-pence designs include the 2011 Olympic coins and 2018 Peter Rabbit 2018 coins.

In addition to making coins for the United Kingdom, the Royal Mint is also the world’s largest export mint and produced around three billion coins and blanks for 30 countries in 2019-20.

RAREST 2019 50-PENCE COINS

2019 50-PENCE COIN MINTAGE
Sherlock Holmes 8,602,000
Paddington at the Tower of London 9,001,000
Paddington at St. Paul’s Cathedral 9,001,000

RAREST 50-PENCE COINS OF ALL-TIME

YEAR-DATE 50-PENCE COIN MINTAGE
2009 Kew Garden 210,000
2011 Olympic Football 1,125,500
2011 Olympic Wrestling 1,129,500
2011 Olympic Judo 1,161,500
2011 Olympic Triathlon 1,163,500
2018 Peter Rabbit 1,400,000
2018 Flopsy Bunny 1,400,000
2011 Olympic Tennis 1,454,000
2011 Olympic Goalball 1,615,500
2011 Olympic Shooting 1,656,500

The Royal Mint publishes its mintage figures online.

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