Royal Mint extends its ‘Innovation in Science’ 50 pence coin series with the pioneering Charles Babbage

The fourth of the Royal Mint’s ‘Innovation in Science’ coins launches today, and following in the footsteps of John Logic Baird, Stephen Hawking, and Rosalind Franklin, comes another intellectual giant, Charles Babbage. That’s a name fans of steampunk will be familiar with, as his Difference Engine is often the basis for alternate history novels with a dominant Victorian British Empire.

Babbage was a visionary English polymath and mechanical engineer who combined his talents to design the first computer, although mechanical in nature. Incredibly, his ‘Analytical Engine’ created all the core fundamental principles of modern computing and along with the ‘Difference Engine’,  set science on a path we still walk today. While he never built his creations , dying in 1871 before they could be completed, the designs were built by others in 1991, and it was found they were perfectly functional.

The coin is another one of the mints seven-sided fifty pence coins, something that seems to have gained pre-eminence there, and is a quirky, but quite appropriate nod to this clever mans ideas. It isn’t a numismatic classic by any means, but makes a nice change from just another portrait, for example, and we do like a bit of originality here.

A typical fifty pence selection of formats, capped by a 22kt gold of half-ounce weight, with standard and piedfort sterling silver (8g and 16g) coins making up the rest of the precious metal offerings. A base-metal, brilliant uncirculated version is also available for the casual collector. Available today


The Royal Mint, the Original Maker of UK coins, is celebrating the life and legacy of Charles Babbage with a commemorative 50p coin, released to mark the 150th anniversary of his death.

As part of The Royal Mint’s ‘Innovation in Science’ series, which pays tribute to some of Britain’s greatest minds, the Charles Babbage 50p follows collectable coins in honour of John Logie Baird, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Hawking.

An influential scientist, Charles Babbage was a lifelong inventor who believed that scientifi¬c advancement should bene¬fit everyone. He was best known for his mechanical calculator, or ‘Difference Engine,’ and conceived the Analytical Engine, that had many essential features found in modern digital computers.

Designed by Nigel Tudman and Jas Bhamra, the latest collectable coin honours Babbage’s legacy with a design that links his machinery to the digital age on the canvas of a 50p piece. The making of the Charles Babbage coin, available in brilliant uncirculated, gold, silver piedfort and silver, combines traditional minting skills and modern technology.

Clare Maclennan, The Royal Mint’s Divisional Director of Commemorative Coin, said: “Known as the Father of the Computer, Charles Babbage’s inventions have influenced the way we all work and play today, and there is possibly no greater example of the importance of his legacy than in recent times with the reliance of digital media during the pandemic.”

She added: “The collectable Charles Babbage 50p is the latest tribute to some of Britain’s greatest scientific inventors on official UK coin. Our Innovation in Science series has proved extremely popular with coin collectors and we are delighted to add Charles Babbage to the collection, marking 150 years since his death.”

Speaking of the coin design, London-based graphic designer Nigel Tudman said: “The Charles Babbage coin brief has been my favourite so far as it involved expressing the development of an idea; taking a complex subject and stripping it back to the essentials to create an attractive yet simple design that contains a subtle message or brain teaser.

“Our aim was to achieve a timeless design created in low relief on the canvas of a 50p which celebrated Babbage the inventor and took inspiration from his Difference Engines. Using a geometric modernist typeface and suggesting the horizontal and vertical bars and numbers from the original machine, the design reflects the movement and flow of the calculations in motion, adding the extra twist of encoding Babbage’s name.”

COMPOSITION 0.9167 gold 0.925 silver 0.925 silver
WEIGHT 15.50 grams 16.0 grams 8.0 grams
DIMENSIONS 27.30 mm 27.30 mm 27.30 mm
FINISH Proof Proof Proof
MAX MINTAGE 260 1,510 4,000
EDGE TEXT None None None
R.R.P. £1,065.00 £102.50 £57.50