diamond geezer

 Thursday, October 14, 2010

What is it with 50p coins? They started out bearing a simple and dignified depiction of Britannia. And now they're emblazoned with whatever garish illustration the Royal Mint wants to chuck at us next. Any anniversary or national event is up for grabs, so it seems.

It's all the European Union's fault. The first special 50ps were minted in 1973 to celebrate our entry into the EEC, after which there was a two-decade gap until the next. But after that, the novelty 50p coins have come thick and fast. As follows:
1994: 50th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings (old chunky size, no longer legal tender)
1998: United Kingdom's Presidency of the European Union
1998: 50th Anniversary of the National Health Service
2000: 150th Anniversary of the Public Libraries Act
2003: 100th Anniversary of the Women's Social and Political Union
2004: 50th Anniversary of the first four-minute mile by Roger Bannister
2005: 250th Anniversary of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary of the English Language
2006: 150th Anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross
2007: Centenary of the Foundation of the Scouting Movement
2009: 250th anniversary of the foundation of the Royal Botanic Gardens
2010: Celebrating 100 Years of Girlguiding UK
I don't dispute that there are some jolly worthwhile institutions in that list. But a very subjective hand appears to be at work in deciding which events are worthy of immortalisation and which will be overlooked. Worthy though the 62-year-old NHS is, for example, its 50th birthday now seems barely relevant. Anniversaries are fleeting events of minor long-term relevance - far better for the nation's coinage to celebrate actual events taking place now.

Which is where the next round of special 50p coins comes in. They're to celebrate the 2012 Olympics, and they'll be arriving in your pocket from next month onwards. Not just one design either but twenty-nine, featuring all the different Olympic and Paralympic sports. Rowing, basketball and triathlon all appear in the first batch, as eventually will football, wheelchair tennis and boccia. In one burst this new sporting range will outnumber all the previous commemorative 50p designs by a factor of two to one. You'd better like them, because they're going to be around for a long time.

Obviously a lot of people are going to want to collect the full set, but (like collecting Panini stickers) that's going to be a lot harder than it sounds. Finding one 2012 coin might be easy, but finding the last one to complete the set of 29 will be much much harder. In particular there are only going to be 87 million Olympic 50p coins in circulation. That may sound a lot but it's only 3 million of each design (or, in other words, only enough for everyone in Wales).

So if you genuinely want one of each (and the Royal Mint sincerely hopes you do) you're going to have to buy them. Eight designs are up for grabs now, and more will be released up until June next year. Best of all, from the Mint's point of view, is the price. You might expect a 50p coin to cost 50p, but you'd be wrong. The actual price tag is £2.99, which is a 500% mark-up on the face value of each coin should it randomly turn up in your pocket. Buy all 29 and you'll end up paying over £86 for a set of coinage officially worth just £14.50.

I don't know who's actually making the profit here, whether it's London 2012 or the Royal Mint. But there's surely an excellent further opportunity to raise even more money to fund the Games. Why stop with piddly little coins when there are lovely crisp banknotes to exploit? I for one would love to see a set of £5 notes in which the Her Majesty the Queen is seen taking part in each of the 29 Olympic and Paralympic sports. Elizabeth swimming, Elizabeth boxing, even Elizabeth weightlifting - the Mint could charge at least £10 for these and they'd sell.

Or, to really rake in the profits, how about a commemorative series of Olympic £20 notes featuring photos of each of this year's X Factor contestants? Pointless, irrelevant, but utterly collectable by idiots. Britain could pay for the entire Olympic Games in weeks if these exploitative trinkets proved popular. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the less exciting but much shinier Olympic 50p coins. And don't bother starting a special collection, because they'll be appearing in your small change for decades to come.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Wed 19th - Sun 23rd October
Bloomsbury Festival
It's free to visit the Foundling Museum this weekend.

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards