It seems the British public have a previously unrecognised love affair with the good old 50 pence coin. Launched back in 1969 as the country switched over to the decimal system, the seven-sided coin was different in size and shape to the rest of the new coins. In recent years, the Royal Mint has had great success with an ongoing release of special editions, often several per year, but always at least one for general circulation. Many of them have comparatively low mintages and often sell for hugely inflated sums on auction sites. They also attract regular ‘Big Media’ attention in the UK.
Of course, the Royal Mint issues precious metal commemorative variants for the collector market, but they’ve now taken that a step further with a new set that contains proof quality re-issues of five older coins under the banner ‘British Culture’ in celebration of the coins 50th anniversary. Remembering the first four-minute mile, the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Kew Gardens (the rarest circulating 50p coin of them all), the subjects are rounded out with the classic Britannia. Each coin has a new 2019 issue date and carries Jody Clark’s effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse.
Two formats were on offer, and we use the term ‘were’ because both sold out in a few hours. The sterling 0.925 silver set comprises five 8 gram coins and sold for £225 – a huge sum for 1.3 ounces of silver, but about the same as buying similar designs individually. The 0.9167 (22kt) gold coins are struck at 15.5 grams (½ oz) and the nicely boxed set retailed for £3,825. You’ll no doubt be able to pick these up on the aftermarket, but be careful as there will be some silly prices being asked for them. A base-metal offering with a 3,500 mintage and a £90 price also sold out.