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Commemorative 50p coin

The 50p coin has been a popular choice for commemorative currency to mark major British events and anniversaries over the years. One of the latest fifty pence coins even commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the first 50p being minted.

These commemorative 50p coins are usually minted in their millions; therefore despite recording major landmark events, virtually all of them are worth no more than their denominated face value of 50p. A rare exception to this is the 2009 Kew Garden 50p; only 210,000 were minted and this is now possibly the most sought after fifty pence coin.

The Kew Gardens commemorative 50p coin.

Only 210,000 2009 Kew Gardens 50p coins were minted.

In addition to the circulated currency 50p coins, The Royal Mint also strikes commemorative gold, silver and platinum proof versions. These have the same designs as the circulating coins but are minted for investors and collectors as a numismatic piece.

D-Day Landings commemorative 50p.

A 1994 Gold Proof 50p Piece D-Day marking the D Day anniversary.

The bullion value of these coins, purely for the precious metal content, far exceeds that of their 50p face value. Factor in the exceptional proof condition and you should expect to pay even higher premiums.

As legal tender they also enjoy tax benefits over precious metal bars of the same weight, and their commemorative design further adds to their value. This makes them highly attractive for both collectors and investors.

Commemorative 50p

First minted in 1969, the distinctive equilateral curved heptagon shape of the 50p was a world-first. It was a decimal replacement for the ten-shilling note, but was released two years before the change to decimal currency. 28 years later, in 1997, the original coin was replaced by the smaller, current size.

Not all special-issue 50p coins are commemorative. Only those coins whose reverse design marks an event can technically be termed as commemorative. For example, the extremely popular Beatrix Potter 50p coins series, featuring Peter Rabbit characters, may not be strictly classed as commemorative 50p coins. This may also apply to the Paddington Bear series; both were minted in 2018, and do not mark exact events so much as popular parts of British culture.

Representation of the People Act commemorative 50p coin.

The 2018 coin marks the passing of the Representation of the People Act in 1918.

By contrast, the 2018 Representation of the People Act 50p marks the centenary of the Act's passing. It is therefore definitely a commemorative coin.

The first commemorative 50p, struck in 1973, marked the United Kingdom's entry into the European Economic Community. The next was not issued until nearly twenty years later in 1992; this was again linked to Europe. The coin marked the UK presiding over the European Council of Ministers, when it completed the European Single market.

Landmark dates

Since these first two, the issuing frequency for commemorative fifty pence coins in circulation has increased. To date there have been well over twenty further commemorative 50p coins issued. If coins such as the Beatrix Potter and Paddington series were included the figure would rise to over eighty designs. These have been very popular with the public, and the frequency looks set to increase with new designs already announced for 2021 and beyond.

Year Event/Anniversary
1973 UK joins the European Economic Community
1992-1993 UK Presidency of the Council of Ministers and the completion of the Single European Market
1994 D-Day Landings 50th Anniversary
1998 UK Presidency of the European Union, and the 25th Anniversary of joining the European Economic Community
1998 National Health Service 50th Anniversary
2000 Public Libraries Act 150th Anniversary
2003 The Women's Social and Political Union 100th Anniversary
2004 Roger Bannister’s four-minute mile 50th Anniversary
2005 Samuel Johnson's Dictionary 250th Anniversary
2006 Victoria Cross 150th Anniversary
2007 Scouting Movement Centenary
2009 Royal Botanic Gardens 250th Anniversary
2010 Girl Guides UK Centenary
2011 World Wildlife Fund 50th Anniversary
2011 London Olympics 2012 - A series of over 20 coins featuring Olympic sports
2013 Birth of Christopher Ironside 100th Anniversary
2013 Birth of Benjamin Britten 100th Anniversary
2014 The Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
2015 Battle of Britain 75th Anniversary
2016 Team GB
2016 Battle of Hastings 1000th Anniversary
2016 Birth Beatrix Potter 150th Anniversary
2016 Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit
2016 Beatrix Potter: Jemima Puddle-Duck
2016 Beatrix Potter: Mrs. Tiggywinkle
2016 Beatrix Potter: Squirrel Nutkin
2017 Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit
2017 Beatrix Potter: Tom Kitten
2017 Beatrix Potter: Jeremy Fisher
2017 Beatrix Potter: Benjamin Bunny
2017 Birth of Sir Isaac Newton 375th Anniversary
2018 Representation of the People Act 100th Anniversary
2018 Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit
2018 Beatrix Potter: Flopsy Bunny
2018 Beatrix Potter: Mrs Tittlemouse
2018 Beatrix Potter: The Tailor of Gloucester
2018 Paddington at the Station
2018 Paddington at the Palace
2018 The Snowman
2019 The Gruffalo
2019 Stephen Hawking
2019 Beatrix Potter: Peter Rabbit
2019 Sherlock Holmes
2019 Paddington at the Tower of London
2020 Withdrawal from the European Union
2021 Various Winnie The Pooh 50p Coins
2021 50th Anniversary Of Decimal Day
2022 Kanga and Roo 50p Coins
2022 Queen Elizabeth II Memorial 50p
2022 100th Anniversary of the BBC
2022 Harry Potter 50p Series