Beatrix Potter remains one of the UK’s most beloved writers, with the Tales of Beatrix Potter being famous the world over. Children of all generations have read and loved the stories of Peter Rabbit and many other wonderful characters, brought to life in prose and pictures in a series of cherished books.
The popularity of the Tales of Beatrix Potter led the Royal Mint to begin issuing a set of special 50p coins – starting in 2016 – which proved very popular with collectors, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of the author.
Some of these are less common than others and all are collectable, so let’s have a look at the full set, and talk about the value where possible.
2016 Beatrix Potter 50p Editions
The first five 50p Beatrix Potter coins were issued in 2016, featuring the characters as follows: Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter herself, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Mrs Tiggy Winkle and Squirrel Nutkin. These immediately caused a stir among the public, and certainly inspired younger people to start coin collections of their own. Let’s have a look at each of these:
This 50p coin features a portrait of the author by illustrator Emma Noble, with her name in large letters and the date of her birth and death. On the other side is the familiar portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Some 6,900,000 of this edition were minted, and values today are as follows: average condition – 50p; circulated but excellent – £3.50; uncirculated mint £10. It is not one of the most sought-after of the set, but is vital for completing a collection.
Although one of the most prized by collectors – thanks in no small part to Peter Rabbit being the most famous of all Potter’s creations – the 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p coin, with a face-on image of the rabbit in a design by Emma Noble, is among the most numerous, with 9,600,000 having been issued into circulation. Prices for this edition range from 50p at face value, 75p for a very good edition, and £3.50 for one in mint condition that has not been in circulation.
The charming illustration of Jemima Puddle-Duck – a favourite with children – is another Emma Noble design, the animal being placed centrally with her name around the edge. This 2016 50p is among the more scarce of the early editions, as a comparatively few 2,100,000 of this design were minted. Therefore, even a average 50p of this design in circulation is worth more than face value – at around £1.00 – while a circulated but excellent example can fetch £3.50, and a mint uncirculated coin around £10.
The amiable hedgehog Mrs Tiggy Winkle is pictured on the Emma Noble designed 50p in large close-up fashion, wearing her familiar washer-woman’s outfit and with her name to the outside of the illustration. Despite some 8,800,000 of this edition having been minted, it is one of the more collectable. An average coin may be worth face value, but an excellent used example will get at least £2.50, and a mint uncirculated example around £8.00.
Squirrel Nutkin appears on his coin in a rather cheeky pose with his paws raised and name around the edge, this coin gain being an Emma Noble design. One of the more popular and memorable of Potter’s creatures, the squirrel famously escapes the clutches of Old Brown, the owl. This coin, of which some 5 million were minted, is not among the more valuable with a standard face value coin, a very good circulated edition at 75p, and uncirculated being around £4.00. Nevertheless, as with all, if you want to collect the full set you need him!
2017 Beatrix Potter 50p Editions
The success of the five Beatrix Potter 50p’s issued in 2016 led to the Royal Mint minting four more designs for 2017. The characters depicted are Peter Rabbit, who makes four appearances in the entire 50p collection, Mr Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Benjamin Bunny. Here’s a bit more detail about each.
As one of the most-loved children’s characters of all time it is no surprise that Peter Rabbit appears again on a 50p in 2017, in this Emma Noble design depicting him in a mischievous pose wearing his famous blue jacket. Drive by the popularity of the previous year’s editions, some 19,900,000 of this design were minted. This means that while it is collectable, a standard coin will be worth only face value, a very good circulated example around £2.50, and an uncirculated coin in the region of £8.00.
Many Beatrix Potter tales feature an element of danger, and none more so than the frog, Mr Jeremy Fisher, who comes perilously close to being eaten by a trout! This particular story is a detailed one that is regarded as one of Potter’s more serious and inspired works. The Emma Noble-designed coin features Mr Fisher in typical pose, and as one would dress for the riverbank, and 9,900,000 examples were issued. Apart from the face value coins, expect to pay around £2.50 for one in excellent condition, and up to £8.00 for an uncirculated example.
Playful Tom Kitten gets up to all sorts of scrapes and is a perfect candidate for a 50p coin. His image on the Emma Noble designed edition shows him face on with his name to the edge, and despite 9.5million of this design being minted, it is one of the more collectable of all. Perhaps people simply like kittens! A very good circulated example is worth £3.50, a mint uncirculated Tom Kitten 50p can be worth as much as £10.
The fourth and final issue in 2017 is this one the Benjamin Bunny 50p. The sequel to ‘Tale of Peter Rabbit’, Benjamin Bunny launches a daring raid on Mr MacGregors garden intending to get back Peter’s clothes. He is pictured by Emma Noble in his trademark coat and large hat, looking rather like a dandy! 25,000,000 of this design were minted – making it one of the most common of all the Beatrix Potter 50p’s – but an excellent coin is still worth £2.00, and a mint uncirculated example £8.00.
2018 Beatrix Potter 50p Editions
A further four 50p editions with Beatrix Potter characters as the subject were issued in 2018, including a third Peter Rabbit example. The other characters were The Tailor of Gloucester, Flopsy Bunny and Mrs Tittlemouse. Here’s a bit more detail about each one.
The enduring appeal of Peter Rabbit sees him get a third coin to himself in 2018, this one showing him enjoying the ill-gotten gains from Mr MacGregor’s garden as he munches on a radish! It’s a delightful design – once more by illustrator Emma Noble – and one that is highly sought after, as a mere 1.4million of this edition were minted. That makes it among the rarest, yet you will find an excellent used coin is worth around £3.50, and a mint uncirculated example around £10.
Beatrix Potter’s unique ability to give wild animals a human touch is seen to perfection in The Tailor of Gloucester, a sophisticated mouse tailor, whom Emma Noble has depicted reading his newspaper, spectacles perched on his nose! This 50p piece was minted in larger numbers than the Peter Rabbit edition of the same year – 3,900,000 officially – and in terms of value is one of the less desired with an excellent used coin worth £2.00, and a perfect uncirculated example around £6.00.
Flopsy is one of the many cheeky and mischievous rabbits who get up to a range of capers in the Beatrix Potter stories, and on the 50p she is given the Emma Noble treatment in a large portrait, looking very cute and somewhat – was that her character in the books? This is another of thee series that was minted in smaller numbers – again just 1.4million were issued – and it can be worth as much as £3.50 as a circulated by excellent example, and £10 for a mint uncirculated edition.
Mrs Tittlemouse is shown on her Emma Noble-designed 50p piece carrying a shopping basket and in her usual getting on with it pose, a rather charming picture indeed. With only 1.7million of these coins minted, this one is another of the more collectable ones and also one of the hardest to find. The value of this coin is £3.00 for one that has been used but is still excellent, and £10 for a mint and uncirculated example.
The 2019 Peter Rabbit 50p
The 2019 edition of the Peter Rabbit 50p, with another fine Emma Noble image, was a commemorative-only edition, available as a ‘proof’ coin in sets provided by the Royal Mint. They did not intend to put this example into general circulation.
However, the Great British Con Hunt – a website and company established by coin collectors for coin collectors – decided to put some 400 of the 2019-marked coins into circulation during 2019, distributing them by putting them into coin-operated machines such as vending machines and parking meters at varied locations across the country.
The result is that the 2019 Peter Rabbit 50p is now the rarest coin of its type, and if you find one, you can expect it to be caught up in a bidding war! How much is it worth? The proof coins were sold for £10 each by the Royal Mint, and there are examples selling for less than that on online auction sites – as well as for more.
As such, the value of the 2019 Peter Rabbit is hard to determine, but it might just be possible that one of the 400 circulated examples, if you can find one, is worth more than those sold by the Royal Mint.
The Beatrix Potter commemorative 50p coins have certainly sparked an interest in modern coin collecting, and also added a lot of fun to checking your change! Look out for them when you next go shopping, you never know what might crop up!