1969-1981 - Elizabeth II - 50 New Pence
The British decimal fifty pence (50p) coin is a unit of currency equaling one half of a pound sterling. It is a seven-sided coin formed as an equilateral curve heptagon. Its obverse has featured the profile of Queen Elizabeth II since the coin’s introduction in 1969.
The original reverse of the coin, designed by Christopher Ironside, and used from 1969 to 2008, is a seated Britannia alongside a lion, accompanied by either NEW PENCE (1969–1982) or FIFTY PENCE above Britannia, with the numeral 50 underneath the seated figure.
As with all new decimal currency, until 1984 the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin appeared on the obverse, in which the Queen wears the 'Girls of Great Britain and Ireland' Tiara.
British coin Fifty Pence
During the history of the coin, three different obverses have been used so far - between 1982 and 1984 the head of Queen Elizabeth II by Arnold Machin was used, between 1985 and 1997 the head by Raphael Maklouf was used, and since 1998 one by Ian Rank-Broadley has been used.
Large type 1:
Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D date, starting to the right of the head. Reverse: Britannia and lion, 50 below NEW PENCE above.
Large type 2:
(1973). Obverse: Machin head, inscription ELIZABETH II D G REG F D, starting to the right of the head, no date. Reverse: Nine clasped hands, 1973 50 PENCE in the centre -- commemorates the UK's accession to the European Economic Community.
The seven sides of a 50p coin
The 50p coin replaced the old ten-shilling note prior to decimalisation in 1971, so it changed from being a printed denomination to a minted one! It was the world’s first seven-sided coin, in the shape of an equilateral curve heptagon. Early designs included 10 and 12-sided versions, and even a square one – but with rounded corners. The seven-sided version was found to be the best for distinguishing the coin from the rest of the UK coinage.
The 50p is made from 75% copper and 25% nickel; this mixture is called cupro-nickel. It is struck with a minimum of 100 tonnes of force and a single coin press can make up to 500 per minute, that’s 30,000 per hour or 720,000 per day.
50 New Pence - Elizabeth II 2nd portrait
Country United Kingdom
Value 50 New Pence (0.5 GBP)
Weight 13.5 g
Diameter 30 mm
Thickness 2.5 mm
Shape Equilaterally curved heptagon
Orientation Medal alignment ↑↑