After several years absence, Britannia has returned to circulating UK coinage.
The redesign of the 1p-£1 coins by Matthew Dent left Britain’s coinage without that staple of UK coinage and symbol of the nation, Britannia. Until 2008, she featured of course on the reverse of the 50p coin and has now been promoted to the £2 coin!
I think she looks more youthful in this depiction by Antony Dufort than in her previous incarnation from Christopher Ironside and features only the top part of her body and her head compared to the whole figure on the old 50p coin. The actual specifications of the coin’s metals, dimensions (28.4mm diameter) and weight (12g) remain unchanged from 2015 despite the change of both obverse and reverse designs.
I think this coin adds to the scope for the amateur collector since £2 and 50p coins are probably the most commonly collected contemporary coins in the UK and the older £2 design written about here has become a bit too commonplace to excite most people.
I have seen some astronomical figures for the kew gardens 50p coins recently on ebay. As I’m sure you know, this coin has captured the imagination of the public at large and by the prices being asked for (and in some cases received) many other circulating coins of dubious scarcity. I am in two minds about this as I do think it reflects the impression I have gained in day to day life that many hitherto numismatic novices have developed an increased awareness of the hobby but on the other hand I am concerned that some younger enthusiastic newcomers to the hobby will have their fingers figuratively burned by ‘investing’ in some of these supposedly rare and hugely over priced coins. I hope these beginners will perhaps focus on a cheaper and less glamorous collection to start their hobby career such as something simple like a date range of pennies or perhaps even just the dates of cupronickel and plated 5p and 10p coins currently circulating before the royal mint withdraws all the cupronickel 1990s types. My philosophy on coin collecting is that it should be for pleasure, fun, pride and interest. I don’t think it is an investment for most amateurs!
I am pleased to discover that the Olympic 50p collection is more sought after among the general public than I realised. Over the past 2 weeks, 2 friends have told me they are collecting them too! One of them has never collected coins before in their life but has taken a keen interest in these coins. I really think they are an excellent way for the amateur numismatist to expand their collection as it is unlikely we we will ever see such a diverse collection so easily amassed in British coinage (at least from general circulation) again. It is great fun swapping the duplicates you have with friends and colleagues who have duplicates of ones you need!
On a frustrating note, I must admit that this coin-virgin has a more complete collection of them than I do!
I bet almost every collector up and down Britain is collecting these fun looking little coins when they find them in their change! What’s puzzling me though is the fact that although the numbers of each design minted are broadly similar, there seems to be an abundance of Boccia and Handball coins up here but i have yet to come across any archery or wrestling coins for instance. It’s got me wondering if there is a regional plan for where they are distributed? I’ll be looking into this and I’ll post a blog about it when I have done some more research.
Goal Ball edition