The Britannia 50p was the first design to appear on the 50p in 1969. It has been minted and circulated regularly and is a must have coin for any coin collector. Many collectors like to add a Britannia coin from every year to their collection.
History of the coin
In 1969 the first 50p was minted with the Britannia design on it. This new coin had 7 sides and the coin has maintained this shape throughout its history. The 50p was needed to replace the 10 shilling note in preparation for decimalization in 1971.
There are 2 different sizes of Britannia 50p. From 1969 to 1997 the coin is larger than the coin we use today and these are no longer in circulation. Those minted from 1997 onwards are the smaller sized coins.
The original design by Christopher Ironside featured on the coin until 2008 when it was replaced with the Royal Shield.
The figurehead Britannia is widely associated with the UK. Her name comes from the original Celtic name for the islands of the UK which was Brettaniai. She is depicted as a Roman goddess holding a trident and shield and wearing a helmet.
She has appeared on coins since 1672, and was only replaced in 2008 when the Royal Mint replaced her with the Royal Shield design.
She appears not only on coins, but on many other British documents and awards.
How many Britannia 50p coins were made?
Between 1969 and 2008, 805,926,100 Britannia 50p coins were put in to circulation. The numbers for each year they were minted are:
- 1969 – 188,400,000
- 1970 – 19,461,500
- 1976 – 43,746,500
- 1977 – 49,536,000
- 1978 – 72,005,500
- 1979 – 58,680,000
- 1980 – 89,086,000
- 1981 – 74,002,000
- 1982 – 51,312,000
- 1983 – 62,824,904
- 1985 – 682,103
- 1997 – 456,364,100
- 1998 – 64,306,500
- 1999 – 24,905,000
- 2000 – 27,915,500
- 2001 – 84,998,500
- 2002 – 23,907,500
- 2003 – 23,583,000
- 2004 – 35,315,500
- 2005 – 25,363,500
- 2006 – 24,567,000
- 2007 – 11,200,000
- 2008 – 3,500,000
Design and Designer
- Front design:
The Britannia 50p shows the figure of Britannia sitting next to a lion.
- Obverse design:
1969-1985 the coin featured the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin
1985-1997 the coin featured the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Raphael Maklouf
1998-2008 the coin featured the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.
- Designer: Christopher Ironside.
Christopher Ironside was a painter and coin designer.
He originally studied art but during World War II he worked for the Air Ministry in the Directorate of Camouflage. After the war he worked for the Ministry of Town and Country planning while also taking on commissions for his own designs.
In 1948 he began designing full time and his designs were included the Festival of Britain in 1951 and in Pall Mall for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
His Britannia design was used on the first decimal coins which were introduced in to the UK in 1971, and he designed many coins for the Royal Mint, including those for other countries. The British Museum now have his original sketches, moulds and entries for the competition to design the decimal coins.
From 1969-2008 the circulation of the Britannia 50p was 805,926,100.
- Brilliant uncirculated coins are available
- Silver Proof and Silver Proof Piedfort coins are available.
- Gold Proof coins are available.