Christopher Ironside Remembered As Elusive 50 Pence Design Enters Circulation | Silver Coins

Christopher Ironside Remembered As Elusive 50 Pence Design Enters Circulation

The Royal Mint announced the problem &amp circulation a very unique coin which numerous coin collectors and specialist numismatists say must have been issued many years ago, that of the royal crest design and style intended for the decimal 50 pence denomination. This elusive coin is becoming issued in the United Kingdom later this year in honor of the coin’s designer, Christopher Ironside OBE (1913 – 1992) 1 of the most talented and gifted numismatic artists whose iconic reverse images graced British coins for just more than 40 years (1968 – 2008), longer than any other series of coins created in the United Kingdom for basic circulation.

2013 Fifty Pence

The massive job of weaning the public off a familiar currency of shillings and pence – which was so nicely loved that its coins have been recognized by nicknames such as ‘bob’ and ‘tanner’ was a challenging 1, but economically  crucial for the country to adopt a decimal program of 100 pence to a Pound. The styles, sooner or later unveiled in 1968 and 1969, took the very best part of a decade to program. The Royal Mint Advisory Committee had initially set about finding designers for the new coinage in the early 1960s, in a closed competition veiled in secrecy. Wishing to attract entrants of the highest caliber, the RMAC invited distinguished teams from the Royal Academy, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a joint team combining the forces of the Royal College of Art and the Royal Designers for Sector to compete in the challenge.

The story of how Christopher Ironside won, then lost, then once more won the challenge to style Britain’s new decimal coin series is fraught with political, artistic and social wrangling. It reveals significantly about the determination and strength of character of the man who went on to grow to be 1 of the most effective coin and medal designers of the 20th century. Function on the project dominated several years of Ironside’s life with quite a few trips to and fro as the RMAC requested minor style alterations, in a period later described by his widow Jean Ironside as frustrating for the designer. Early in 1968 Ironside’s styles for the new coins have been revealed, representing the crest of England (10p), the thistle of Scotland (5p), the feathers of Wales (2p), the portcullis of Parliament (1p) and a royal crown (½p). There were no plans at this stage for a 50p coin simply because the ten shilling note was still in use. Quickly afterwards it was decided to replace the old ten-shilling note with a new fifty pence coin (the note was no longer financial simply because it was of a denomination that saw a lot of use, and as a result wore out speedily).

The 50 pence coin would turn out to be the world’s initial seven-sided coin, in the shape of an equilateral curve heptagon. Early styles included 10 and 12-sided versions, and even a square one – but with rounded corners. The seven-sided version was discovered to be the greatest for working in vending machines and for distinguishing the coin from the rest of the UK coinage. Ironside was asked to submit styles for a single new coin to complete the series, and came up with two propositions that set the RMAC a challenge: the figure of Britannia, seated, would undoubtedly meet with public approval, but the Royal Arms was acknowledged as a brilliant design and style, bringing together all the person elements of the smaller sized denomination coins, and for that reason thought by the RMAC to be a far better fit with the heraldic theme of the series. Even so, well-known opinion won, and in 1969 Britannia resumed her reign on Britain’s coins. The highly-regarded Royal Arms design and style was liked so a lot by members of The Royal Mint Advisory Committee, that trial pieces of the design had been created in the hope that a single day a use would be located for it. It remained unseen till now, when it has been revived for the 2013 fifty pence, in honor of the centenary of Ironside’s birth. The version of 2013 differs from the original in that it has been reduced to match the smaller size fifty pence coin, and the word ‘new’ has been replaced by ‘fifty’.






Good quality


50 Pence


8 grams

27.3 mm.



Christopher Ironside is credited with obtaining said, “The work of a excellent a lot of artists who are geniuses is by no means recognised and probably ultimately disappears. But if a single is a coin designer, one’s operate lasts possibly lengthy following death, everyone becomes familiar with it and it types a little part of the history of the nation for which it was designed.”

He had taken the decision to omit his initials from the coins, famously uttering the tongue-in-cheek explanation that it would be arrogant to consist of his initials, but it would be even far more arrogant not to!  In a nod to Ironside, the 2013 version of the coin consists of the initials C.I., a move which would have produced the excellent designer smile. Possibly, he would be amused and proud to consider that the Royal Mint have at long last managed to make sure that his initials are featured on United Kingdom coinage.

For more information on this and other coins issued by the Royal Mint, please go to their internet site at: The coin is accessible in precious metal proof versions of gold and silver as properly as a BU instance presented in a colorful informative folder.

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