Music Legends collectible coin range returns with a musician that almost defines the term – David Bowie

First it was Queen, then it was Elton John. How do you top those two giants of the music industry? Easy. David Bowie. When the Royal Mint kicked off its ‘Music Legends’ series last year with a new Queen issue, we thought it would start with the most iconic in the catalogue of British performers that its collaboration with music management company Bravado and Universal Music Group could bring. We didn’t quite get just how many absolute giants of the industry there are to choose from.

They don’t get much bigger than David Robert Jones – David Bowie. Born on 08 January 1947, Bowie quickly started the way he carried on his whole career – innovation, followed by reinvention. Never standing still for long, the South London-born Bowie started in 1962 with pop and folk, moving through countless different styles, many quite unique, over the following 50+ years. Now hailed as one of the all-time greats, his catalogue of albums, and his influence on popular culture, has few equals. He died in 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69, just two days after the debut, on his birthday, of the album Blackstar. Such was the mans stature, that on 15 January, in the first music charts published after his death, ,not only did Blackstar debut at No.1, but 19 of his albums populated the UK Top 100 Album Chart, along with 13 songs in the Top 100 Singles Chart.

The coin is an outstanding tribute. The Queen coin was good, if a little impersonal, but this series really hit its stride with the excellent Elton John issue, which managed to catch the essence of the man perfectly, using a very stylistic approach. This one takes some of that DNA for the background, but shows Bowie in his prime using a natural, realistic look. Depicting highly recognisable characters on the small and difficult canvas of a coin is fraught with the possibility of failure. No signs of that here, and the depiction by the very talented Jody Clark is quite sublime. The use of colour on the 1 oz proof coin is, like the Elton John coin, spot on, and this version also comes with an edge inscription, ‘THE STARS ARE NEVER FAR AWAY. Versions of 2 oz and above, also have a ‘stardust’ feature on the lightning bolt, which you can’t really see in the images and are struck to a higher relief.

Along with that 1oz proof, there are also silver coins half, double, and five times that size. Gold coins from 1/4 oz up to a £72,195, 1kg variant with a mintage of only 11 pieces round out the range, except for a budget copper-nickel coin for the casual collector/fan. That one comes in a gatefold pack in unlimited form, but if you buy from the mint you can also choose one of three limited (15,000 each) design packs for an extra £2 each. The precious metal coins are all boxed with a C.O.A., with the smallest silver coin coming in one of the solid acrylic block frames. We’d like to have seen the colour 1 oz coin get the same treatment.

In an unusual touch, the Royal Mint stuck one of these coins on what seems to be a high-altitude weather balloon and sent it up into the upper atmosphere, skirting the edge of space and allowing for some pretty cool pictures. We’re sure Bowie would’ve gotten a kick out of the stunt. That coin will be a competition prize on the Royal Mint’s Facebook page. The mint also did a special for the Elton John coin, with proceeds going to charity. Great to see.

Personally, I wasn’t sure this series would gel with me. I love music, of course, but the whole cult of celebrity has always passed me by completely. However, ‘Music Legends’ has been a real treat for coin collectors. When you combine numismatics and music, you realise that both subject and coin have long term appeal. Centuries from now, someone could pick up one of these and recognise instantly why it was issued. Maybe it will still be Queen Elizabeth II. Available from today, we’re expecting many variants, especially the gold ones, to disappear quickly. What’s next? Hopefully not the Spice Girls, but I have a nasty feeling… The Who would be great.


It is the first time that a UK coin has been sent into space, and celebrates the intergalactic legacy of David Bowie and his hits including Starman, Life on Mars? and Space Oddity. The coin reached 35,656m and orbited the Earth’s atmosphere for 45 minutes before safely descending back to Britain. The coin will now be offered as a competition prize for David Bowie fans via The Royal Mint’s Facebook page.

The David Bowie commemorative coin is the third in The Royal Mint’s ‘Music Legends’ collection, and follows coins in honour of Queen and Elton John. The latest coin celebrates rock’s definitive chameleon with a design inspired by an image of David Bowie from his time spent living and recording in Berlin. The coin’s design includes the iconic lightning bolt motif from Aladdin Sane, and captures Bowie’s career journey.

Using the latest innovative technology and manufacturing techniques, the lightning bolt that features on a number of the special edition coins appears laced with stardust to create a glitter effect – elevating the stunning detail of the coin.

Clare Maclennan, Divisional Director of Commemorative Coin at The Royal Mint said, “We are thrilled to unveil the third coin in The Royal Mint’s ‘Music Legends’ series, honouring the intergalactic legacy and career of David Bowie. In recognition of Bowie’s first hit single ‘Space Oddity’, we felt it was fitting to send his coin into space and celebrate the Starman in his own pioneering fashion. David Bowie’s music has inspired and influenced generations of musicians and we hope this commemorative coin will be cherished by fans around the world.”

Born in Brixton, South London in 1947, Bowie started life as David Robert Jones. By the time he was 19 he had taken on his iconic name and began pursuing a career in pop music. Five days ahead of the Apollo 11 launch in July 1969, ‘Space Oddity’ was released in the United Kingdom. The single reached number five in the charts, making it Bowie’s first success as a writer and performer. David Bowie’s influence can be seen and heard everywhere and he continues to inspire hundreds of millions of musicians worldwide.

DENOMINATION £25 UKP £100 UKP £200 UKP £500 UKP £1,000 UKP
COMPOSITION 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold 0.9999 gold
WEIGHT 7.80 grams 31.21 grams 62.42 grams 156.295 grams 1005.00 grams
DIMENSIONS 22.0 mm 32.69 mm 40.0 mm 50.0 mm 100.0 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof Proof Proof
MINTAGE 1,400 400 100 60 11
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes
R.R.P. £615.00 £2,425.00 £4,760.00 £11,815.00 £72,195.00
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver 0.999 silver Cupro-Nickel
WEIGHT 156.295 grams 62.42 grams 31.21 grams 15.71 grams 28.28 grams
DIMENSIONS 65.0 mm 40.0 mm 38.61 mm 27.0 mm 38.61 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof, coloured Proof B/uncirculated
MINTAGE 500 550 8,100 13,500 Unlimited (specials 15k each)
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Yes / Yes Blistercard
R.R.P. £520.00 £195.00 £97.50 £65.00 £13.00 (specials £15)