In recent years there’s one coin that has catapulted to the top of the must-have list for many collectors. Of course, I’m talking about the 50p.
And whilst the 50p has always had a place in collector’s hearts – it has after all featured some of the most sought-after designs of all-time, such as Kew Gardens – it wasn’t until Beatrix Potter’s mischievous, blue-coated bunny first appeared on a 50p that our love for the 7-sided coin really took off. And with it came a whole new dawn of collecting, and a new generation of collectors.
Our tale starts back in 2016…
150th Anniversary of Beatrix Potter
It all started with the milestone 150th anniversary of one of Britain’s most beloved children’s book authors – Beatrix Potter.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit was her very first children’s tale to be published, in 1902, and it was an instant success. Spurred on by this, and inspired by fairy tales and fantasy, Potter penned 23 original children’s books in total, featuring charming illustrations and imaginative animal characters.
What Beatrix Potter didn’t know at the time was that her lively illustrations would later prove to be the inspiration behind one of, if not the, most popular coin series ever released.
Peter Rabbit’s 50p Debut
In honour of Beatrix Potter and her legacy, the Royal Mint announced a 50p coin collection in 2016, featuring four of her characters, and a design paying tribute to the author herself.
The obvious starting place was with Beatrix Potter’s most famous creation – Peter Rabbit. Known for his cheeky escapades in Mr McGregor’s garden, Peter Rabbit featured in 6 of Beatrix Potter’s tales.
The 50p release of Peter Rabbit was special for several reasons:
- First time a fictional, children’s book character had featured on a UK 50p – paving the way for future popular issues such as The Gruffalo, The Snowman and Paddington Bear.
- The Silver Proof version of the coin featured colour printed image for the very first time.
These two facts revolutionised 50p collecting, and our furry little friend Peter went from being a beloved literary character to a collecting sensation.
Start of the Collecting Storm
It’s safe to say that The Royal Mint created a collecting storm. The UK 2016 Peter Rabbit Silver 50p was so popular that by mid-morning on the day it was released, The Royal Mint’s website crashed under the sheer weight of public interest. Not long after, all 15,000 coins completely sold out.
But that was just the start.
Peter Rabbit has now featured on five 50ps, and the collector response has continued to be unprecedented – his popularity is unrivalled. Even when the edition limit of the Silver Proof 50p more than doubled to 35,000 in 2018, it completely sold out!
In fact, the Silver Proof 50p has become the must-have specification and sell-outs mean it’s notoriously difficult for collectors looking to back-fill gaps in their collections – some issues are virtually impossible to come across now.
It’s become imperative for collectors to snap up Silver Proof 50ps when they can – as in some cases waiting even just a few hours could prove to be too late. Take the Gruffalo Silver 50p – it took a mere 12 hours for the entire edition limit of 25,000 to sell-out. That’s a record.
Last Ever UK Peter Rabbit 50p
All in all, there has been 15 Beatrix Potter 50ps issued since 2016, each one helping solidify the Beatrix Potter 50p series as one of, if not the, most collectable coin series we’ve ever seen.
The coin collecting world was shook earlier this year when it was announced that 2020 would be the very last time Peter Rabbit would feature on a UK 50p coin.
Even though this may be the end of Peter Rabbit’s 50p journey, there’s no doubt that all the Beatrix Potter coins will continue to be highly desirable for years to come.
But this does now leave collectors wondering will the next collecting sensation be? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
If you’re interested…
The LAST EVER UK Peter Rabbit Silver 50p was released earlier this year, and we’re lucky to have a limited number available. Expertly struck from .925 Silver to a proof finish, it features a coloured image of Peter Rabbit escaping from Mr McGregor’s garden – a classic Beatrix Potter illustration! This is a must-have for all Beatrix Potter fans and 50p collectors alike. Click here for more information >>
At the end of the month Britain will be leaving the European Union and HM Treasury have already announced a special commemorative 50p will enter circulation to mark the significant moment.
And if you want to be kept up to date with information about this new UK Brexit 50p, click here to register your interest.
But this won’t be the first time Britain’s relationship with the EU has been commemorated on coins. Whatever your feelings on our upcoming departure from the EU, our relationship with the continent has certainly produced some of the most iconic and important 50p releases ever from The Royal Mint!
Here are the coins that tell the story of Britain in the EU…
1973 European Economic Community 50p – the FIRST commemorative 50p!
After over a decade of debate and discussion, in 1973 Britain was finally successful in its attempts to join the European Economic Community, known as the EEC. And to mark this important moment, The Royal Mint issued a brand new 50p to celebrate the UK’s accession. It features nine hands clasping each other in a circle, symbolising the nine member states of the community.
This coin now stands as a hugely significant issue in British history, but it also stands as an extremely important numismatic release. That’s because it was the FIRST EVER commemorative 50p! This was the coin that started what has become the world’s most popular coin collecting craze and paved the way for the Olympic, Beatrix Potter and Kew Gardens 50ps we’re now so familiar with.
1992/3 UK European Community Presidency – the RAREST ever 50p!
The 1992/3 50p celebrates the UK’s presidency of the European Council of Ministers, and the completion of the Single Market. The design by Mary Milner Dickens features a conference table seen from above, around which are the 12 chairs for the Council of Ministers with the UK at the head of the table.
This 50p was released at a difficult time in the UK’s relationship with Europe. A strong Eurosceptic voice began to be heard in Parliament, with Thatcher having recently stepped down as Prime Minister and the formation of the UK Independence Party.
But most collectors will be aware of this 50p as being one of the most sought-after coins ever issued by The Royal Mint. There have been some extremely scarce 50ps issued since its introduction over 50p years ago, but with a mintage of just 109,000 (around half of the Kew Gardens 50p) the EC Presidency is the rarest UK 50p coin to enter circulation!
1998 UK entry to EEC 25th Anniversary 50p – the FIRST new-sized 50p!
In 1998 a new 50p was issued to commemorate 25 years of the UK in the EEC. The previous decade had been occupied with much debate and discussion over Britain’s membership of the European Union, playing a part in the decline of the Conservative Party and the landslide election victory by Tony Blair’s Labour Party.
This 50p marked a key change in the 50p – it was the FIRST to be released in the smaller sized specification we know today. The old larger coins were removed from circulation and it’s this new sized 50p that has featured some of the UK’s most iconic coin designs.
2020 Brexit 50p – the MOST IMPORTANT coin release of the decade!
To mark the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, it has been announced that a brand new 50p will be released into circulation on 31st January along with special commemorative Gold, Silver Proof, and Brilliant Uncirculated editions available to order from that date.
The final design features the inscription ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’ and the historic date 31st January 2020 – the date the UK will officially leave the European Union.
The three previous 50ps issued to mark the UK’s relationship with the EU have all become iconic releases in their own right, and I have a feeling this brand new coin may just stand as the most collectable of them all!
If you want to be kept up to date with information about the new UK Brexit 50p, then register your interest below.
If you’re interested…
Britain’s departure from the EU at the end of the month is sure to be one of the most important historic moments of our lifetime. And to mark the occasion you can own one of a limited number of Silver Britannias alongside the original 1973 EEC 50p, specially preserved in a one-day-only DateStamp™ issue to mark Britain leaving the European Union.
The Stories of British Coins Collection includes 16 of the most remarkable coins from over 200 years of British history, but many of them are in high demand and difficult to source, especially those which are historic artefacts in their own right!
Join Adam as he unboxes a fascinating coin collection that together tells the story of Britain.