Coins of England and Great Britain

('Coins of the UK')

by Tony Clayton


8 - Decimal Fifty Pence


Decimal Twenty Pence <<-- : -->> Decimal One Pound

Values of Decimal 20p and 50p coins
Pictures of Decimal Fifty Pence coins


The Seven-sided Coins


Both the 20p and 50p coins are seven-sided to aid identification. The sides are not straight, but curved, with the centre of curvature being the opposite apex. This means that when used in slot machines they always appear to have exactly the same diameter regardless of the orientation of the coin when it is put in. In all of these coins except the new style 50p Dent definitive design introduced in 2008 the central apex is above the Queen's head.


Fifty Pence


The fifty pence coin originally weighed 13.5 grams and had a diameter of 30 mm.

It was introduced in 1969 to replace the ten shilling note as part of the run up towards decimalisation two years later. The ten shilling note ceased to be legal tender from 22nd November 1970.

In 1997 a new smaller version of the 50p was introduced weighing 8.00 grams and with a diameter of 27.30 mm.

Proof coins were issued in sets every year from 1971 onwards.

There are many types of the 50 pence coin as they are used for commemorative designs. A very large number of new designs have been issued in connection with the London Olympics.

16 of the reverse designs, all dated 2009, were issued together in proof sets to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the 50p coin.


Definitive Types


  1. Large Britannia type

    Obv: First Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting top right
    Rev: Britannia, 50 below, NEW PENCE above.
    Designed by Christopher Ironside.
    Issued from 1969 to 1972, and 1974 to 1981 (1971-72 and 1974-75 in Proof only). None of this type were issued in 1973 when only the EEC commemorative design was used.

  2. Large Britannia type with revised inscription

    Obv: First Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting top right
    Rev: Britannia, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above
    Issued from 1982 to 1984 (1984 only obtainable from Mint and Proof sets)

  3. Large Britannia type with new portrait

    Obv: Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left
    Rev: Britannia, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above
    Issued from 1985 to 1993 and 1995 to 1997 (All except 1985 obtainable only from Mint and Proof sets).
    Proofs: silver in 1996 and 1997.

  4. Small Britannia type

    Obv: Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left
    Rev: Britannia, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above

    Issued only in 1997, but in large numbers.
    Proofs: silver and silver piedfort.

  5. Small Britannia type with new portrait

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust. Central point above Queen's head.
    Rev: Britannia, 50 below, FIFTY PENCE above

    Issued for circulation from 1998 to 2008. About 55 million 1998 50p's were issued.
    50p coins of this design dated 2007 are available in proof Royal Mint sets, but not in the Uncirculated Coin Set. This is probably because there were two commemorative designs for 2007.
    2008 Britannia type coins have been seen in circulation, but are scarce.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2000, 2006, 2008 and 2009; gold in 2002, 2008 and 2009; platinum in 2008; gold piedfort in 2009

  6. New Dent Shield type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust. Central point of edge below Queen's head.
    Rev: Bottom apex of the Royal Arms, FIFTY PENCE below

    Issued from 2008. 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 not yet seen in circulation; these are available in Royal Mint sets only.
    Proofs in cupronickel, silver, gold, platinum, silver piedfort and gold piedfort are known for various dates.


Commemorative Types


  1. EEC large type

    Obv: First Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D starting top right.
    Rev: Nine clasped hands in a circle, 1973 / 50 / PENCE in the centre

    Issued in 1973 only. A cased Proof version was issued which is arguably more common than the uncirculated examples of the circulation issue. A few silver proofs on slightly thicker than normal blanks were struck for senior EEC Finance Ministers.

  2. Second EEC large type

    Obv: Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II DEI GRA REG F D starting low left
    Rev: Conference Table with seats and stars, 50 PENCE below, 1992 1993 above
    .
    This was issued to celebrate the completion of the EC single market and the British Presidency. A circulation issue was made, but in such small quantities that I have never seen one in change. It was designed by Mary Milner Dickens.
    Proofs: silver, gold and silver piedfort.

  3. D-Day large type

    Obv: Second Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 1994 starting low left
    Rev: An invasion force of planes and ships. 50 PENCE to right

    This was issued to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of D-Day. A circulation issue was made, but in small quantities. A few were found in change. Designed by John Mills.
    Proofs: silver, gold and silver piedfort.

  4. Third EEC type. This and all following are in the small format

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking 25th anniversary of UK's entry into the European Community
    .
    It looks like a firework display of 12 stars with the inscription 1973 EU 1998 underneath, with 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in 1998. About 5 million issued. Designed by John Mills.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 1998 and 2009; gold in 1998 and 2009; silver piedfort in 1998; gold piedfort in 2009

  5. NHS type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking 50th anniversary of the formation of the National Health Service
    .
    'Caring hands' holding suns rays, FIFTIETH ANNIVERSARY above, 50 PENCE below, NHS repeated 5 times in the border
    Issued in 1998. About 5 million issued
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 1998 and 2009; gold in 1998 and 2009; silver piedfort in 1998; gold piedfort in 2009

  6. Libraries type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2000 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the centenary of the Public Libraries Act of 1850. Open book above pillared building inscribed PUBLIC LIBRARIES, 1850 2000 above, 50 PENCE to the right.
    Issued in 2000. Designed by Mary Milner Dickens.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2000 and 2009; gold in 2000 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2000; gold piedfort in 2009

  7. Suffragettes type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2003 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the centenary of the Women's Social and Political Union (The Suffragettes). Suffragette chained to railing and holding 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.
    Issued in 2003. Designed by Mary Milner Dickens.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2003 and 2009; gold in 2003 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2003; gold piedfort in 2009

  8. Four-Minute Mile type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2004 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the fiftieth anniversary of the first four-minute mile by Roger Bannister. Legs of a runner with a stopwatch showing just under four minutes. 50 PENCE below. Designed by James Butler.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2004 and 2009; gold in 2004 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2004; gold piedfort in 2009

  9. Dictionary type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2005 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's first English Dictionary. 50/FI'FTY.adj/s.[FIFTIZ, Saxon.]/PENCE .n.s./plural of penny/JOHNSON'S/DICTIONARY 1755. Designed by Tom Phillips.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2005 and 2009; gold in 2005 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2005; gold piedfort in 2009

  10. Victoria Cross type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the Victoria Cross. Pictures of both sides of the Victoria Cross, the reverse engraved 29 JAN 1856. VC FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Claire Aldridge.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2006 and 2009; gold in 2006 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2006; gold piedfort in 2009

  11. Heroic Actions type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2006 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the Victoria Cross. Soldier carrying wounded comrade, FIFTY PENCE below. Designed by Clive Duncan.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2006 and 2009; gold in 2006 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2006; gold piedfort in 2009

  12. Scouting type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2007 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Commemorative design marking the one hundredth anniversary of the Scout Movement. Fleur-de-Lys symbol of the Scout Movement, FIFTY PENCE above, BE PREPARED below, 1907 to the left and 2007 to the right Designed by Kerry Jones.
    Proof coins were struck dated 2009 for the special 2009 16 design set. None dated 2009 were issued for circulation.
    Proofs: silver in 2007 and 2009; gold in 2007 and 2009; silver piedfort in 2007; gold piedfort in 2009

  13. New Dent Definitive type type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust. Central point of edge below Queen's head.
    Rev: Bottom apex of the Royal Arms, FIFTY PENCE below

    Issued from 2008. 2010 and 2011 not in circulation; available in Royal Mint sets only.
    2014 in circulation
    Proofs in cupronickel, silver, gold, platinum, silver piedfort and gold piedfort are known for various dates.

  14. Kew type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D starting low left. FIFTY PENCE below. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: The Kew Chinese Pagoda, climbing plant around, 1759 to left, 2009 to right. 'Kew' at base

    Issued in 2009. Not yet seen but reported to be in circulation. Mintage said to be very low.
    Proofs: silver, gold, silver piedfort, gold piedfort.

  15. EEC small type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D starting top right (to be confirmed)
    Rev: Nine clasped hands in a circle, 1973 / 50 / PENCE in the centre
    Issued in 2009 as proofs only, in cupronickel, silver, gold and gold piedfort.

  16. Second EEC small type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D starting low left (to be confirmed)
    Rev: Conference Table with seats and stars, 50 PENCE below, 1992 1993 above.
    Issued in 2009 as proofs only, in cupronickel, silver, gold and gold piedfort.

  17. D-Day small type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2009 starting low left (to be confirmed)
    Rev: An invasion force of planes and ships. 50 PENCE to right
    Issued in 2009 as proofs only, in cupronickel, silver, gold and gold piedfort.

  18. Girl Guides type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2009 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Pattern of Cloverleaves, CELEBRATING ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF GIRLGUIDING UK, 50 PENCE below

    Issued in 2010.

  19. WWF type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D around, FIFTY PENCE below
    Rev: Pattern of flora and fauna, panda and WWF in centre, 2011 below

    Issued in 2011.

  20. Christopher Ironside type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2013 around.
    Rev: Royal Arms, FIFTY PENCE above, 50 below
    From a design by Christopher Ironside
    Issued and in circulation in 2013.

  21. Benjamin Britten type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D FIFTY PENCE 2013 around.
    Rev: BENJAMIN BRITTEN on staves, BLOW BUGLE BLOW above, COMPOSER BORN 1913 between, SET THE WILD ECHOES FLYING below

    Designed by Tom Phillips CBE RA
    Issued in 2013. Seen in circulation; also available in a Royal Mint folder, and gold, silver, and silver piedfort proofs. Not found in the Year Sets.

  22. Glasgow Commonwealth Games type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D above, FIFTY PENCE below.
    Rev: Cyclist and athlete above the Saltire of Scotland, XX COMMONWEALTH GAMES GLASGOW above, 2014 below
    Designed by Alex Loudon with Dan Flashman
    To be issued in 2014. Not yet seen in circulation; at present available in a Royal Mint sets only.

  23. Battle of Britain type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2015.
    Rev: THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN, bomber fleet above, three pilots running to fighters below, 1940 under
    Designed by Gary Breeze
    To be issued in 2015. Not yet seen in circulation; at present available in a Royal Mint sets only.


The Olympic Types


  1. Athletics type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D {date} starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Child jumping over a stick. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below. Designed by Florence Jackson
    Issued in 2009 and 2011. 2011 date seen in circulation; 2009 versions available in Royal Mint presentation folder only.

  2. Aquatics type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Aquatics. Swimmer. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  3. Archery type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Archery. Hand, arrow and bowstring. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  4. Badminton type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Badminton. Shuttlecock and players. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  5. Basketball type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Basketball players. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Not yet seen, but reported to be in circulation.

  6. Boccia type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Boccia. Wheelchair player. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  7. Boxing type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Boxing. Two gloves and ring. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  8. Canoeing type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Canoeist. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  9. Cycling type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Cyclist on track. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  10. Equestrian type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Equestrian. Horse and rider jumping fence. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  11. Fencing type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Two fencers. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  12. Football type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Diagram explaining the offside rule. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in 2011.

  13. Goalball type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Goalball player throwing a ball. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  14. Gymnastics type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Gymnast with ribbon. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  15. Handball type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Handball player and court. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Seen in circulation.

  16. Hockey type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Hockey. Two players. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  17. Judo type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Judo Throw in progress. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in 2011.

  18. Modern Pentathlon type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Modern Pentathlon. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  19. Rowing type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Two rowers. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  20. Shooting type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Shooting. Clay pigeon shooter. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  21. Table Tennis type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Table Tennis. Two bats, ball and table. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  22. Taekwondo type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Two athletes engaging in Taekwondo. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Not yet seen, but reported to be in circulation.

  23. Tennis type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Ball over tennis net. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Not yet seen, but reported to be in circulation.

  24. Triathlon type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Triathlon. Runner, cyclist and swimmer. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  25. Volleyball type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Volleyball Game in progress. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

  26. Weightlifting type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Female weightlifter. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Seen in circulation.

  27. Wheelchair Rugby type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Wheelchair player with ball. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Not yet seen, but reported to be in circulation.

  28. Wrestling type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Wrestlers in stadium. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Seen in circulation.

  29. Yachting type

    Obv: Third Portrait, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D 2011 starting low left. Initials IRB below bust.
    Rev: Sailing. Yachts and map of Portland Bill. London 2012 Olympics symbol above, 50 PENCE below.
    Issued in December 2010.

The full designation of the Britannia reverse is 'The seated figure of Britannia'. The use of this figure carries on a long tradition of using this type of reverse, dating back to the time of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, whose main claim to fame (in the UK) is the Antonine Wall that he had built out of turf between the Forth and the Clyde. The removal of Britannia from UK coins in 2008 was the cause of considerable controversy.

After the introduction of the pound coin in 1983 demand for the coin dropped significantly, and although well used, fewer were tied up in vending machines, so the banks had a large surplus in stock. This is why so few were released into circulation between 1985 and the reduction in size in 1997.

The need to reduce the size was not made clear. One argument at the time of its introduction was that the coin's circulation life of 50 years is far in excess of the circulation life of a 10 shilling banknote. They did not even reach 30 years.

With the reduction in size the old larger coins have now been withdrawn from circulation, and demonetized with effect from 28th February 1998, although they can still be exchanged at some banks.

Unusually for the time, all three designs of 1998 50p piece were issued for circulation. Previously, when a commemorative design has been issued for general circulation, the traditional Britannia reverse version had only been available (if at all) in Proof or Uncirculated sets. This has now changed, because a decision has been made by the Royal Mint to keep commemorative designs a bit special.

I have been informed that such special designs can be expected to have a normal issue level of 5 million. If the annual demand for 50p coins exceeds this, the balance are struck with the standard reverse.


Acknowledgements

See my Main Coins Index page for acknowledgements


Links

Decimal Twenty Pence <<-- : -->> Decimal One Pound

Main Index
Values Index
Values of 20p and 50p coins.
Pictures Index
Pictures of Decimal Fifty Pence Coins

Help and Advice


Decimal Coins of the UK - 8 - 50p
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v43 14th December 2014
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