The Royal Mint has revealed its London 2012 50p commemorative coins are proving more popular than any other UK circulating coin since decimalisation in 1971.

olympic 50p coins1 - London 2012: most popular coins in over 40 years

Since their release into general circulation in October 2010, The Royal Mint anticipates that more than £10 million worth, or over 70% of the coins, will be kept by people looking for a ‘free’ souvenir of London 2012. This is a huge increase on the standard loss of 2% to 3% on most other new circulating 50p coins which are removed by collectors or simply lost.

The Royal Mint has said it’s not unusual for special commemorative coins to be removed from circulation in this way but that the London 2012 coins would break all previous records.

Struck at the organisation’s headquarters in South Wales, the coins were designed by members of the public as part of a Royal Mint competition in which nearly 30,000 entries were submitted. They are the first ever UK coins to be designed by the public.

Each of the twenty-nine 50p coins features an Olympic or Paralympic sport on its reverse. These include sailing, cycling and basketball as well as less well-known sports such as handball and the Paralympic sport boccia.

The 50p coins are seen as a perfect souvenir to remember London 2012 due to their intrinsic value and quality which holds an interest and fascination for generations to come.

Within hours of a British gold medal winning performance at London 2012, Royal Mail will set about producing an exclusive Team GB issue to mark their sporting triumph. Here’s how they’ll produce Britain’s first ever ‘next day’ stamps this summer …  

rm 0511 - Royal Mail to salute gold medal winners with unique stamp issueEach Team GB Gold Medal Stamp issue will feature a Miniature Sheet of six stamps. To save time, sheets will be pre-printed in gold with common details such as the 1st Class value, the Queen’s head and the official London 2012 logo. The Team GB emblem and the title ‘London 2012 Olympic Games’ will also be printed in advance.

rm 098 - Royal Mail to salute gold medal winners with unique stamp issue

Working alongside Getty Images, the Games’ Official Photographic Agency, Royal Mail will receive a selection of images featuring the winning team or athlete as soon as possible after their win. Designers will have just one hour to choose the best action shot to fit the template and complete the artwork.

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On receipt of the artwork from Royal Mail, six regional printers will then digitally overprint the athlete’s image, name and the winning event.

The finished sheets will be collected from the printers and delivered to 500 Post Office branches across the UK for sale the morning after the gold medal win. They range from Aberdeen to Bournemouth, Belfast to Cardiff and include a large number in London.

rm 1381 - Royal Mail to salute gold medal winners with unique stamp issue “All of these branches will be open on Sundays, many for the first time, during the Games to allow customers to buy the stamps as soon as they become available,” Royal Mail spokesperson.  Another 4,500 Post Offices will receive the Gold Medal Stamps within the following week.

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Royal Mail’s ‘Welcome’ Mini Sheets
To coincide with the opening of London 2012 on 27th July and the Paralympic Games on 29th August, Royal Mail will also issue two special miniature sheets.  The four stamps on each sheet portray powerful images of athletes in action alongside an iconic London landmark such as the London Eye or Tower Bridge. There are
two 1st class stamps and two £1.28 stamps per mini-sheet. This is the first time a postal administration has issued a miniature sheet to mark the opening of the Paralympic Games.

Royal Mail released its first Olympic stamps in 1948, when the Games were held in London for the second time (first held in 1908). However, this will be the first time ever it has issued stamps to celebrate gold medal winners.