How much is the 2005 Samuel Johnson Dictionary 50p worth? Is it rare?

Introduced by The Royal Mint in 2005, the Dictionary 50p coin was released to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary - one of the most influential pieces of scholarship in the history of the English language.

This was no ordinary dictionary, though. It explained complex definitions of 40,000 words and took eight years to finish. In fact, it was the most advanced dictionary of its time and was used by famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Oscar Wilde. Importantly, unlike the other existing dictionaries, Samuel had created a plan on how to organise the words methodically.

If you own a dictionary 50p coin or would like to add on to your 50p coins collection, read on to learn more about the history, design, mintage, rarity, and value of the Dictionary 50p coin.

History of the Coin

Also known as the Johnson's Dictionary 50p, the Dictionary 50p coin was released in 2005 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the dictionary's publication of the English language. This dictionary is considered to be one of the most influential ones in the history of the English language due to its originality and illustrations.

The first edition alone has 42,000 words with elaborate definitions and illustrations with the help of quotations. A number of book publishers reached out to Samuel Johnson in 1746 to create a dictionary.

In those times, there was no standard for dictionaries despite there being 20 published dictionaries. None of these 20 dictionaries did a good enough job. So Johnson took over the job and came up with the first edition of the dictionary in 8 years. As soon as the dictionary was published, it became highly influential and was considered a great gift for Modern English.

In fact, it remained highly popular until 150 years later, when the Oxford dictionary was published and was the first dictionary to give competition to Johnson's dictionary. Safe to say, Johnson’s contribution was incredibly significant and the Johnson’s Dictionary 50p is a reminder of the same.

The physical book is generally large at 46 cm tall and 51 cm wide and the paper itself was of high quality, greatly increasing the price of the work.

Design of the Coin

The Dictionary 50p coin is in an equilateral-curve heptagon shape with a constant diameter across all bisections. The coin shows the words fifty and pence with their meanings written as in the publication of the dictionary originally.

This reverse side of the coin was designed by Tom Phillips and is pretty distinctive as it does not have any image on it. It features an assortment of entries from Johnson’s dictionary, including ‘Fifty Pence,’ ‘Saxon’, and ‘plural of penny.’ That’s why the Dictionary 50p is also known, informally, as the Plural of Penny 50p and the Saxon 50p.

Stamped at the bottom of the coin is the shorter title for the work, ‘Johnson’s Dictionary’ and the year of its publication.

The Dictionary 50p coin has an obverse that bears the fourth definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. It is designed by famous sculptor, Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS, which was first introduced on UK coins back in 1998.

The inscription reads ELIZABETH · II D · G REG · F · D 2005.

The portrait of Her Majesty the Queen created by Ian Rank-Broadley, was used in all the coins between 1998-2005.

Denomination 50p
Year 2005
Weight 8.00g
Diameter 27.30mm
Reverse Designer Tom Phillips
Obverse Designer Ian Rank-Broadley
Metal Cupro-Nickel
Mintage 17,649,000

Mintage of the Coin

The total mintage of the Dictionary 50p coins is 17,649,000. The coin was released into circulation by The Royal Mint in 2005 and was the only commemorative coin to be released that year. In addition, the Britannia 50p coin was also released which had a mintage of over 25 million.

Just like any other commemorative coin, the Dictionary 50p coin was released in special finishes for coin collectors to add to their collections. The coin came in a Silver Proof finish with a mintage of 6,500 coins, in a Silver Proof Piedfort finish with a mintage of 3,800 coins, and in a Gold Proof finish with a mintage of 1,100 coins.

Is the Dictionary 50p Coin Rare?

Since it was only released in 2005, the Dictionary 50p coin is not rare. In fact, there are over 17 million in circulation, which makes it far from rare. There is a good chance you will find this coin in your change. There are even chances of you finding one in your spare change.

The Dictionary fifty pence has the third highest mintage of all commemorative 50p coins. The only ones with higher are the 2017 Peter Rabbit 50p (19.9 million) and the 2017 Benjamin Bunny 50p (25 million). Only the coins that have a mintage of less than 2 million are considered to be rare. Coins like Kew Gardens 50p and 2018 Peter Rabbit 50p are considered to be the rarest.

How Much Is a Dictionary 50p Coin Worth Today?

A Dictionary 50p coin is worth around £1.75 on average on platforms like eBay and Amazon. This does not include the packaging and postage costs. Since the coin is ranked as 'common' on Changechecker’s scarcity index, it is not worth a lot but is more than face value.

Where Can I Buy the Dictionary 50p Coin?

You can buy this coin here.

Examples of the Dictionary 50p have been sold on auction sites such as eBay and Amazon for around £1.50 - £3, but we recommend you keep an eye on your change to find an example for face value.

Articles have been published in national newspapers of this coin selling for hundreds of pounds but these are 'false' listings looking to trick collectors.

Where can I buy the 2005 Dictionaries 50p coin?

If you can not wait to find one in your change then online market places such as eBay and Amazon have coins available, but as always, check out the seller, the listing description, photos and do as much research before buying.

The Royal Mint has an online shop where you can buy various coins in circulated, uncirculated, silver proof and gold proof condition, but as we mentioned, they no longer stock the 2005 Dictionary 50p coin.

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