2006 was the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross. The Royal Mint produced two 50p coins to commemorate this: one showing the medal itself and the other commemorating acts of bravery. The Victoria Cross Award 50p shows the medal and makes a nice addition to any collection of military items as well as a must have for coin collectors.
History of the coin
Prior to 1971 the UK used an Imperial system of currency which consisted of pounds, shillings and pence. When decimalisation was introduced in 1971, our currency had a major overhaul with new coins being produced. The 50p was one of the new decimal coins, equivalent to the old 10 shilling note.
The only change to the coin was in 1997, when it was reduced in size and it is just one of the coins which has been used to commemorate special events.
The Victoria Cross was established in 1856 and two 50p coins were minted to commemorate this. The Victoria Cross Award 50p coin shows the medal itself.
About the Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross was suggested in 1854, as a way of recognising those who had shown bravery on the battlefield. At the time Britain was fighting the Crimean War, with many soldiers displaying brave and heroic acts.
Queen Victoria signed a Royal Warrant in 1856 to introduce the Victoria Cross and the first one was awarded a year later. It was designed to recognise any serviceman who had shown extreme bravery and it is the highest award for any soldier, regardless of rank.
In 1857 there were 111 recipients from the Crimean War and a ceremony was held in Hyde Park where Queen Victoria issued 62 of the medals. Recipients were also awarded an annual annuity, and this is still paid today.
Since 1857, 1358 Victoria Crosses have been awarded.
How many Victoria Cross Award 50p coins were made?
When the Victoria Cross Award 50p was minted in 2006, 12,087,000 were circulated.
Design and Designer
- Front design:
The front of the coin shows the front and back of the Victoria Cross medal. On the image of the back, it says ’29 Jan 1856’ and the letters VC underneath.
- Obverse design:
Ian Rank-Broadley’s portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is on the obverse. This is the 4th image of Her Majesty to be used on coins.
- Designer: Claire Aldridge
Claire Aldridge is one of the Royal Mint’s senior designers and engravers.
She was responsible for the Olympic Countdown series which was a set of commemorative coins which was not put in to circulation. She has also worked on other coins, including those for other countries, but wanted to design a coin for circulation in the UK. This she achieved with the Victoria Cross Award 50p.
Her knowledge of the minting process meant that she knew what sort of design would work best, and so she created her VC coin.
This is one of 2 coins issued to commemorate the Victoria Cross and this one has a circulation of 12,087,000. This coin was also re-issued in 2009 as part of the set commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 50p coin.
- Brilliant uncirculated coins are available
- 7,500 Silver Proof coins were produced
- 5,000 Silver Proof Piedfort coins were produced.
- A limited number of Gold Proof coins were also produced