The Royal Mint’s latest frenzy-inducing childrens literature coin release is The Gruffalo

Following The Snowman and various Beatrix Potter series, the Royal Mint today launched The Gruffalo. Based on a 2009 childrens book, it joins those previous issues in adorning a seven-sided 50 pence. As before, the primary issue is an 8 gram sterling silver item with selective colouration, backed up by an uncoloured 22kt gold variant. A base metal brilliant uncirculated is an affordable option, although obviously a lower quality one as well.

It’s a decent enough coin, clearly geared towards fans of the character – just as it should be. We’re not sure how many fans have been trying to buy them from the Royal Mint website however, and we’d suspect speculators were the ones queueing for ages for the chance to pick one up. We checked the RM website at 2am UK time and were surprised to find ourselves in a queue behind 13,000 other potential buyers. Just eight hours later, that waiting list had stretched out to over 31,000 buyers and at the time of writing, the total visitor count was almost 250,000! What does this mean? Well, in previous instances it has led to a glut of them appearing on auction sites at ridiculously inflated prices, followed by a softening of that figure down to sensible levels near the issue price – even below it in the case of the last Beatrix Potter series. Our advice is to be careful what you pay and don’t get sucked into a bidding war. The 25,000 silver coins and 600 gold (up from the usual 400) are already sold out, despite a household purchase limit.

Packaging is as good as you would expect from the Royal Mint. The gold comes in the usual quality wooden box, although this is a relatively sombre affair given the subject. The silver is presented in the solid acrylic frame we love so much, although customised. Of note, the mintage of 25,000 is for silver coins packaged in this way only. The total mintage is 30,000 pieces, and we’d suspect the last 5,000 will be sold by the Post Office without the frame, but in an inferior black coin box. If previous examples are a reliable indicator, expect them to be a fair bit more expensive.

As for cost, despite our calling out the mint for what we thought was a price set too high previously (£60 for The Snowman), they’ve gone up again. At £65.00, these are expensive for their size. A FAQ on the webstore page includes a hypothetical question asking why that is. We can’t say the answer was particularly compelling. No news yet on whether there will be further Gruffalo issues, but on the performance of this one, we’d wager it will have a companion in the next 12 months at most.


The story of a mouse’s walk through the woods unfolds in two phases; in both, the mouse uses clever tricks to evade danger. On his way the mouse encounters several dangerous animals (a fox, an owl, and a snake). Each of these animals, clearly intending to eat the mouse, invites him back to their home for a meal. The cunning mouse declines each offer. To dissuade further advances, he tells each animal that he has plans to dine with his friend, a gruffalo, a monster-like hybrid that is half grizzly bear and half buffalo, whose favourite food happens to be the relevant animal, and describes the features of the gruffalo’s monstrous anatomy. Frightened that the gruffalo might eat it, each animal flees. Knowing the gruffalo to be fictional, the mouse gloats thus:

Silly old fox/owl/snake, doesn’t he know?

there’s no such thing as a gruffalo!

After getting rid of the last animal, the mouse is shocked to encounter a real gruffalo – with all the frightening features the mouse thought that he was inventing. The gruffalo threatens to eat the mouse, but again the mouse is cunning: he tells the gruffalo that he, the mouse, is the scariest animal in the forest. Laughing, the gruffalo agrees to follow the mouse as he demonstrates how feared he is. The two walk through the forest, encountering in turn the animals that had earlier menaced the mouse. Each is terrified by the sight of the pair and runs off – and each time the gruffalo becomes more impressed with the mouse’s apparent toughness. Exploiting this, the mouse threatens to eat the gruffalo, which flees.

The story is based on a Chinese folk tale of a fox that borrows the terror of a tiger. Donaldson was unable to think of rhymes for “tiger” so instead she invented a word that rhymes with “know”.


With more than 13.5 million copies sold in more than 76 different languages, The Gruffalo is truly a modern classic. The magical story about a quick-witted mouse and a loveable beast has captured the imaginations of families for 20 years, earning its well-deserved title as the United Kingdom’s favourite bedtime story in 2009.

Now one of the world’s best-loved monsters appears on the nation’s coins for the first time. In this extremely limited edition, each tooth and prickle has been captured in 22 carat gold, before being finished to Proof standard, the finest minting finish. Presented in a wooden case for safekeeping with a booklet that explores the story and its creators, this gold coin is a beautiful collector’s piece to be treasured for many generations.

Now one of the world’s best-loved monsters appears on official United Kingdom commemorative coins for the first time. There are just 25,000 silver Proof coins available in this Limited Edition Presentation. Each coin features bright colour printing and is set in a printed acrylic case, recalling the original story’s charming illustrations. Make sure you discover this family favourite, sure to be handed down through generations for many more decades to come.

DENOMINATION £0.50 United Kingdom £0.50 United Kingdom
COMPOSITION 0.925 silver 0.9167 gold
WEIGHT 8.0 grams 15.50 grams
DIMENSIONS 27.3 mm 27.3 mm
FINISH Proof Proof
MINTAGE 30,000 (25,000 in this packaging) 600
BOX / COA Yes / Yes Yes / Yes