The 10 Shilling Note, or ‘ten bob’, was a goodly sum in the old days – in the 1960’s it could buy 6 pints of beer, 10 loaves of bread, or 17 pints of milk.
It’s hard to imagine its decimal equivalent, the 50p, buying so much these days!
This old banknote has a fascinating history, from being issued by the Government in a wartime emergency, changing colour to avoid forgery from the Nazis and eventually being replaced by the world’s most popular coin.
The Emergency Banknote
In August 1914, the British economy was in turmoil because of the instability brought on by the oncoming war on the continent. Bankers and politicians were desperately looking for ways to secure Britain’s finances and prevent the banks from collapsing.
The Government decided that a large supply of banknotes had to be made available for the value of 10 shillings, making it easy for the public to make small transactions. However, The Bank of England was not able to prepare and print the required number of notes quickly enough, so the Government took the unprecedented step of deciding to issue the notes itself.
These banknotes became known as the Treasury banknotes and were unlike anything the British public had ever seen. Until this point the lowest denomination banknote was £5, and in those days this was such a large sum that many people would never have seen or used a banknote before.
That means that these Treasury notes now stand out as the first widely circulated banknotes in England.
The Wartime colour change
In 1928, the responsibility for printing Ten Shilling Notes was transferred to the Bank of England.
However, not long afterwards Britain once again found itself at war, and again found its currency under threat.
During World War II, Nazi Germany hatched a plan to undermine British currency. Through Operation Bernhard they believed that they had discovered a method to manufacture counterfeit ‘White Fivers’ and planned to distribute these in huge numbers to destabilise the British currency.
The Bank of England decided to take preventative action and, as a result, the 10 Shilling note was changed for duration of the war to a distinctive pink and blue in an attempt to prevent counterfeiting. It was also revolutionary in the progression of banknote technology by incorporating a metal security thread.
The Nazis could not compete with this high level anti-forgery technology and hence the British 10 Shilling Note stayed strong and supported the British wartime economy as it had done since its conception.
The 50p revolution
After undergoing a colour change during the Second World War, the ‘ten bob’ note reverted to the familiar red-brown until 1961, when a new design featuring a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II was introduced.
Despite a new design for the 10 Shilling Note featuring Sir Walter Raleigh on the reverse being approved in 1964, as part of the process of decimalisation it was dropped in favour of the new fifty pence coin introduced in 1969.
The principle reason for the change was to save the treasury money, the notes had an average lifetime of around five months, whereas a coin could last for fifty years. The 50p has since gone on to become the world’s most popular and collected coin, but nowadays few realise the fascinating history of its predecessor, the 10 Shilling Banknote!
If you’re interested…
It’s now been 50 years since the last 10 Shilling Banknote was issued – which is why you now have the chance to pay tribute to this famous old note with a LIMITED EDITION DateStamp™. But only a very limited number of 10 Shilling Notes will be released in this way, so you’ll need to be quick if you want to secure one for your collection! Click here to order one today >>
As you may know, this year we’re celebrating a numismatic milestone: the 50th anniversary of the 50p!
And as the collector’s favourite 7-sided coin turns 50 years old we’ve seen many commemoratives marking the occasion, which have proved immensely popular with collectors.
And a brand new UK 50p has been released today by The Royal Mint to mark the actual anniversary of the 50p – 14th October 2019.
This new coin is sure to see an overwhelming response from collectors. That’s because the new coin has THREE unique features that alone make this commemorative this year’s must have 50p release…
TWO special privy marks and a minting first
The reverse features Christopher Ironside’s iconic Britannia design, inscribed with ‘New Pence’. This was the first design to ever feature on the 7-sided 50p, released in 1969.
But what truly sets this issue apart from all other 50years of the 50p commemoratives is the inclusion of THREE special hidden features:
- Exclusive never-before-seen privy mark, designed especially for the occasion. A Spirograph-type design drawn from an extension of lines forming the 50p shape creates this unique mark. If you look in the centre you’ll see the 7-sided 50p shape we’re used to today.
- Innovative privy mark around the reverse rim of the coin. The letters A to G are inscribed on each point and are joined by arced crossing lines. It shows the science behind how the iconic 50p shape was created. Importantly, this is a minting first on a 50p coin.
- The denomination in ‘NEW PENCE’ – not seen since 1981.
These three features make this issue highly collectable and will surely be sought-after by collectors in years to come.
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p BU Pack
To give as many collectors as possible the chance to own this coin, The Royal Mint has issued it in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, which is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.
Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £10 (+p&p). Click here to find out more >>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p Silver Proof Coin
However, you can own the special commemorative 50p in an even more exclusive way – so exclusive just 3,500 collectors worldwide can own it.
This version is sure to sell incredibly quickly. Remember when The Royal Mint re-issued for 2019 some of the most iconic 50ps, to celebrate the anniversary, in Silver Proof quality the popularity was unprecedented. In fact the full allocation of 3,500 COMPLETELY SOLD OUT within two hours.
That’s the same edition limit as this single coin.
The coin has the same design, but comes presented in a bespoke Royal Mint presentation box and is struck in superior .925 Sterling Silver to a perfect proof finish. Given how popular commemorative 50ps are, this exclusive precious metal version is sure to be an even bigger hit.
You can secure this limited edition coin for your collection now for just £55 (+p&p) – that’s the Royal Mint issue price. Click here to find out more >>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Commemorative 50p Silver Piedfort Coin
But, there is an even more limited way to own this coin – as a Silver Proof Piedfort. Limited to just 1,969 collectors across the globe, this coin is nearly twice as rare as the regular Silver Proof version.
Piedforts are the pinnacle of Royal Mint craftsmanship. They are highly-sought after amongst collectors and stand out for many reasons:
- Twice the weight and thickness of a regular Silver Proof coin
- Double the amount of Silver
- Low edition limits
- Fast sell-out rates
What’s more, 50p Piedforts are extremely rare. To my knowledge only about 20 or so have ever been minted and as such are always highly sought-after.
In fact, they are so in demand that the 2019 UK Stephen Hawking 50p Silver Proof Piedfort, with a higher edition limit of 2,500, COMPLETELY SOLD OUT at The Royal Mint within two hours.
You can secure this limited edition coin for your collection now for just £19 (+p&p), followed by 4 further equal interest-free instalments. Click here to find out more >>>
This year the 50p turns 50 years old. And to mark the occasion The Royal Mint re-issued for 2019 some of the most popular 50ps to have ever been issued – including the rare Kew Gardens 50p which is the pinnacle for most collectors.
Unsurprisingly, the limited edition proof sets sold out in record time – just 2 hours!
Now, to continue the celebrations of the 50th year of the 50p, The Royal Mint has released a second set of iconic 50ps, this time celebrating British military history. It is no coincidence this collection has been released on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.
The collection has been officially released today, in a number of precious metal versions and we’re delighted to provide you with all the details you need to know about this latest edition to the 50p family…
Five iconic designs celebrating British military history
Each set includes five popular 50p designs which are a true tribute to British military history, including:
- 50th Anniversary of D-Day – originally issued in 1994, the design depicts the D-Day landings of the Allied forces as they head for Normandy by air and sea.
- Victoria Cross Heroics Acts – released in 2006, this 50p commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross and is one of two designs issued to honour award. This one features a design of a soldier carrying an injured comrade.
- 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross Award – the second 50p issued in 2006 to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Victoria Cross, featuring an image of the medal itself.
- 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain – first issued in 2015, this 50p features three airmen running to their planes with enemy aircraft overhead.
- 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings – showing the scene from the Bayeux tapestry depicting King Harold with an arrow in his eye, this coin was originally released in 2016.
Demand for military commemoratives is at an all-time high, especially this year when we mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and as such it is expected these sets will attract a lot of interest from collectors.
50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Brilliant Uncirculated Pack
To give as many collectors as possible the chance to own these highly sought-after coins, The Royal Mint has issued them in Brilliant Uncirculated quality, which is coveted by collectors as it means each coin is free from any marks you would find on circulated coins.
Each one is protectively encapsulated in its attractive original Royal Mint packaging to preserve its quality for generations to come. What’s more, you can secure this BU Pack at the Royal Mint issue price of just £45 (+p&p). Click here to find out more>>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Set
Whilst being struck from base metal, the coins in this set have been struck to a stunning superior proof finish. Just 3,500 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Sets have been released worldwide, making this set extremely sought after.
You can order the new 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Base Proof Set here with a down payment of just £19.80 (+p&p) followed by 4 further interest-free instalments. Click here to find out more>>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Silver Proof Set
However, you can own the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set in an even more limited way – so limited just 1,969 collectors worldwide can own it.
Each set contains the same five iconic 50p designs, but these have been struck in superior .925 Sterling Silver to a perfect proof finish. Given how popular commemorative 50ps are, this ultimate set is sure to be an even bigger hit.
You can secure this extremely limited set for your collection now for just £29.50 (+p&p), followed by just 9 further equal interest-free monthly instalments. Click here to find out more>>>
50th Anniversary of the 50p Gold Set
Finally, the rarest set of all. Just 75 collectors worldwide will be able to own the 50th Anniversary of the 50p Military Set impeccably struck from 22 Carat Gold to a proof finish.