Kew Gardens was opened in 1759 and a special 50p was minted to mark its 250th anniversary. This 50p coin is the one all collectors hope to find as it is the rarest in circulation. This alone makes it valuable, but it also commemorates one of the UK’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
History of The Coin
The first 50p was minted in 1969 in preparation for decimalisation in 1971. A whole new system of currency was being introduced moving us away from the old pounds, shillings and pence. The 50p featured Britannia and was in a unique heptagonal shape.
The coin is now distinguishable by this shape though it was made smaller in 1997.
Commemorative 50p coins are released regularly and in 2009, the Kew Gardens 50p was minted and circulated.
About Kew Gardens
Kew Gardens is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Kew. It opened in 1759 when Princess Augusta opened a 9 acre botanic garden. The gardens now cover over 330 acres.
As well as the gardens there are many walkways and plant houses including a Herbarium, Alpine House and Palm House. The Pagoda seen on the 50p coin is just one of many ornamental buildings in the gardens.
In 1762 the Great Pagoda was built and in 1773 the Hollow walk was created. Over the years many explorers have brought or sent seeds back to be added to the collection in the gardens. The garden now hosts and incredible 27,000 plant groups and species.
The Library, Art and Archives includes one of the largest botanical collections in the World. These include over half a million illustrations books and manuscripts.
How Many Kew Gardens 50p Coins Were Made?
Just 210,000 Kew Gardens 50p coins were put in to circulation, making it the most sought after of all 50p pieces.
Design and Designer
- Front design:
The front of the Kew Gardens 50p shows the Chinese Pagoda which is in Kew Gardens. A vine is wrapped around it with the dates ‘1759’ on the left hand side, ‘2009’ on the right hand side and ‘Kew’ at the bottom.
- Obverse design:
The 4th portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley.
- Designer: Christopher Le Brun
Christopher Le Brun is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts. Born in 1951, he is a painter, sculptor and printmaker.
He has exhibited all over the World, including Zeitgeist in 1982, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia.
In 2000 he was elected as the first Professor of Drawing at the Royal Academy, serving as President from 2011-2019, when he stood down. At the time of his appointment, he was the youngest President of the RA since 1878.
As well as designing the Kew Gardens 50p, he has also worked on the 2007 Britannia bullion coin and he designed the Pegasus which was on the gold and silver proof versions of the coins issued to mark the London Olympics in 2012.
The Kew Gardens 50p is the most sought after as only 210,000 were put into circulation. A version was reissued in 2019 but this was a commemorative coin only as part of the 50th anniversary of the 50p.
- 130,000 Brilliant uncirculated coins are available
- 7,500 Silver Proof coins were produced.
- 3,000 Silver Proof Piedfort coins were produced.
- Just 40 Gold Proof coins were minted.