How much is the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p worth? Is it rare?

'Composer born in 1913' is presented across the front of this coin that was issued by the Royal Mint in 2013 to mark the 100th birthday of British composer Benjamin Britten.

This special coin is the first 50p coin in UK history to display the date and denomination on the same side, but how much is it worth today?

Having researched the most recent online sales on eBay and Amazon this coin is worth around £2.10 in good circulated condition. So it's not a Kew Gardens 50p and not going to make you rich but it certainly is a nice coin to add to your collection.

In this article we take a look into the life of this 20th century composer, the design of the coin and how likely you are to find one of these coins in your change.

Edward Benjamin Britten, born on 22nd November 1913, was an English composer, conductor, and pianist. He was a central figure of 20th-century British music, with a range of works including opera, other vocal music, orchestral and chamber pieces.

His best-known works include the opera Peter Grimes (1945), the War Requiem (1962) and the orchestral showpiece The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra (1945).

In 2013, 100 years since Britten's birth, concerts and events were held around the world to celebrate the composer's life and music. He featured on a special stamp commemorating 'Great Britons', as well as this 50 pence piece.

Design of the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p coin

One half of a pound sterling is equal to one fifty pence (50p), a unit of currency used in the United Kingdom. It is a seven-sided coin that has the shape of an equilateral-curve heptagon, also known as a Reuleaux polygon, or curve whose breadth is constant throughout all bisections.

The cupro-nickel form of the coin has a plain edge, is 27.3mm in diameter, weighs 8g, and is 1.78mm thick.

The coin's then-revolutionary design provided for easy visual and tactile differentiation from round coins, yet its constant width allowed it to roll through vending machines.

The coin's reverse, which was created by artist Tom Phillips CBE RA, bears the inspirational phrases BLOW BUGLE BLOW and SET THE WILD ECHOES FLYING. In addition, the composer's name inscribed on a stave, a nod to his prowess as a pianist and conductor.

The British painter, printmaker, and collage artist Tom Phillips, who also created an Olympic coin and a Silver Jubilee £5 coin, has an engraving on the coin's reverse.

On the two groups of five horizontal staves that divide the coin, BENJAMIN BRITTEN is inscribed in capital letters. Phillips added the staves as a nod to Britten's preferred instrument, the piano, at which he was a master.

The phrase 'COMPOSER.BORN 1913' is engraved in the area between these staves. On the bottom of the reverse, it says, 'SET THE WILD ECHOES FLYING.' All lettering is uppercase and written in an unconventional style.

Both 'Blow Bugles Blow' and 'Set The Wild Echoes Flying' are excerpts from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem 'Blow, Bugle, Blow,' which is included as an operatic addition to Benjamin Britten's 1943 song cycle Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings. Tennyson had been inspired by his visits to Killarney in Ireland.

These phrases were added by Phillips as a 'clarion call' for Britten's anniversary. The verses are performed by English tenor Peter Pears over the nocturne (music meant to be played at night) section of the Serenade for Tenor and Horn.

For more than 40 years, Britten was Pears' personal and professional partner. Pears appeared in numerous operas and on his musical recordings. They are buried together at Aldeburgh Parish Church in Suffolk.

In the past, Phillips has printed phrases on coins instead of pictures or portraits, which are often found on the reverse of commemorative 50p coins.

The 50p coin honoring the 250th anniversary of Samuel Johnson's lexicon was created by Phillips in 2005. More pertinently, that also contained words. As Phillips explained to the Guardian in 2013, 'Who wants to stare at a drab photo of an unattractive old man, even if they are amazing composers or talents?,' the insertion of words was a no-brainer. ’

Ian Rank-Broadley created the adult crowned head of Queen Elizabeth II on the coin's obverse. Her Majesty is shown in the picture facing to the right while donning the diamond Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.

Ian Rank-Broadley was a British sculptor whose rendition of the monarch appeared on UK coins from 1997 to 2015.

Raphael Maklouf, whose image was on coins from 1985 to 1987 was replaced by Ian Rank-Broadley. In contrast to idealized depictions of the monarch, Rank-Broadley's 'Fourth' portrait of the Queen depicts a "70-year-old woman with poise and bearing," as the sculptor put it.

Around the Queen's portrait is the text 'ELIZABETH · II · D · G · REG · F · D · FIFTY PENCE · 2013.' The words 'FIFTY PENCE' are added to the obverse inscription to make up for their absence from their regular location on the reverse face.

Just behind her head, in little letters, is the Royal Society of Sculptors member artist Ian Rank-(IRB) Broadley's signature mark.

Denomination 50p
Year 2013
Weight 8.00g
Diameter 27.30mm
Reverse Designers Tom Phillips
Obverse Designer Ian Rank-Broadley
Metal Cupro-Nickel
Mintage 5,300,000

Mintage of the Coin

The Royal Mint released 5.3 million Benjamin Britten coins into general circulation in November 2013 to commemorate 100 years since his birth.

As well as the 5.3 million released into circulation, additional versions were released by the Royal Mint including only 717 silver proof versions of .925 sterling silver, which were presented in an original box with certificate of authenticity. A total of 515 Silver Piedfort versions weighing double the weight of the Silver proof at 16g and just 150 gold proof versions weighing 15.5g and struck to 22 carat gold.

In the same year, the Royal Mint issued the Christopher Ironside 50p coin, as well as three commemorative £2 coins; the 2013 London Underground Train £2 coin, the 2013 London Underground Roundel £2 coin and finally the Anniversary of the Guinea £2 coin.

Is the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p Coin Rare?

With a mintage of 5.3 million the coin is not particularly rare in comparison with some other commemorative coins such as the 2016 Jemima Puddle-duck 50p or the 2017 Isaac Newton 50p coin that both have a mintage around 2 million. It has a similar mintage to the 1998 NHS 50p and the 1998 EU Stars 50p, both of which have a mintage of just over 5 million.

Nevertheless, it is a common coin to receive in your change that is more than face value and a wonderful coin to add to your collection.

How Much Is the Benjamin Britten 50p Coin Worth Today?

As we said, it is always it is difficult to put an exact price on a coin as all coins vary in condition, but we would expect the circulated Benjamin Britten 50p to be worth around £2.20 to £2.60 in today's market excluding any postage costs.

Where Can I Buy the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p Coin?

We sell this coin and you can buy it now.

You can buy the Benjamin Britten 50p coin online on auction sites such as eBay or Amazon but please ensure you look at all the information and reputation of the seller.

Unfortunately, as this coin is now nearly 9 years old, the Royal Mint no longer stock this coin so it is only available to buy on the secondary market.

Are there any known errors of this coin?

The Royal Mint has not confirmed any error versions of the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p, so any listings on eBay or Amazon that are trying to market an ‘error’ version are trying to trick buyers and artificially inflate the price.

Bit of Trivia...

Due to the reverse design of the coin, with staves and mottled finish, even though the coin is only 10 years old, the coin tends to pick up dirt and grime leading to an unclean appearance.

At the age of 3 Britten nearly died from pneumonia, he survived but did long lasting damage to his heart.

As a young boy, Britten attended a local fee-paying elementary school in his hometown of Lowestoft, before moving to Gresham's School in Norfolk in 1928. He stayed there for two years before winning a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied with John Ireland and Ralph Vaughan Wiliams.

Britten died of heart failure in 1976 aged 63. Since his death, there has been growing speculation of sexual impropriety towards young teenage boys throughout his life.

His legacy continues today with the Aldeburgh Festival of Music and the Arts taking place every year in the town where Britten and his partner, Peter Pears, lived for many years.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published