Issued back in 2013 by the Royal Mint, the Christopher Ironside 50p has rather nostalgic feel about it as it commemorates the coin designer. But how much is it worth?
As always it is difficult to put an exact price on a coin as all coins vary in condition. To a collector we would estimate the Ironside 50p coin in good circulated condition to be worth around £2.20, but if you are looking to buy one on eBay or Amazon, expect to pay even more than this to cover seller's costs for postage and packaging.
Due to its unusual design, collectors have a few other names for the coin such as the Lion and the Unicorn 50p, the Crest 50p and the Coat of Arms 50p.
In this article we look at the history and design around the coin and whether it is rare compared to other commemorative 50p coins.
History behind the coin
The coin is a unique commemorative 50p coin to mark Christopher Ironside's birth 100 years ago. He was an English painter who went on to become a coin designer in addition to many other things. The reverse sides of the first decimal UK coins were created by this numismatic artist, who is most renowned for those designs.
Ironside once said of his creative design work, "Most artists are never given credit or recognised, and their work gradually goes away." However, if a person designs coins, their creations will continue long after their passing.
He was steadfast in his conviction that coins belonged to the people. Despite the fact that they were holding his artistic creation, he had no desire to do anything just to obtain the glory.
Other coins he created over the years include a former half penny coin, the pre-2008 British 50p reverse side, ten pence, five pence, two pence, and one penny.
Additionally, he created medallions for the Britannia Commemorative Society's Medallion No. 7 'The Spanish Armada' and No. 42 'The Royal Navy', the medal for the 1974 Centenary of Sir Winston Churchill's birth 'This Was Their Finest Hour,' the brass relief memorial for the Earl and Countess Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey, and the brass relief for the 16th Duke of Norfolk. He also created coins to honour the Isle of Man, Dubai, Brunei and Tanzania. He was a prolific designer.
Christopher Ironside designed the first decimal coins for the UK
Ironside created the first winning design that appeared on the new currency from 1969 until 2008. At the time of decimalization, Ironside's well-known Britannia design was chosen for the 50p, where Britannia was seated next to a lion.
This 50p features Christopher Ironside's Royal Arms design, which finished second to Britannia for the first 50p in 1969, as a tribute to his 100th birthday.
Although it didn't win, The Royal Mint Advisory Committee members loved the design so much, trial pieces of the design were produced, and it was indicated that a use for it might be discovered. As it turned out, about 44 years after it was created, the Royal Arms design was first seen in public. Christopher Ironside's own artwork would be featured on the coin intended to honour him. He hadn't intended to utilise the concept for himself, though. This makes its appearance in 2013 a worthy tribute to a talented numismatic artist.
The value on the 2013 coin has been changed from NEW PENCE to FIFTY PENCE because the design's original classification of NEW PENCE would not be appropriate for 2013.
The Design of the Coin
The distinctive seven-sided design of the commemorative Ironside coin, which is part of the 50 pence design, creates an equilateral-curved heptagon. The coin's face value, as its name suggests, is 0.50 pounds sterling.
Ironside's interpretation of the Royal Coat of Arms, or royal arms, is depicted on the 2013 commemorative 50p coin. He decided to use a four-section shield in the middle and a crown on top to symbolize the idea. Images of three lions, a harp, and a lion in full rage may be found inside the four sections. On the left side of the shield is a crowned lion, while on the right is a unicorn.
The words 'Honi soit qui mal y pense' surround the encircling shield but are partially obscured by other parts of the composition. 'Shame on anyone who thinks evil of it,' the words mean. The motto of the British monarch is 'DIEU ET MON DROIT,' which is inscribed on the ribbon at the bottom of the picture.
The obverse of the coin is portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by Ian Rank-Broadley was used on all UK coinage from 1998 to 2014 and for some 2015 coins. It was the fourth portrait of the Queen used on coinage.
Mintage of the Coin
The Christopher Ironside 50p was released into circulation in 2013 with a mintage of exactly 7,000,000.
As well as the 7 million released into circulation, additional versions were released by the Royal Mint including 4,403 Brilliant Uncirculated packs, 1,823 Silver proof versions and 1,500 Silver Piedfort versions and also just 198 Gold proof versions, which all came in specially crafted presentation boxes with certificates of authenticity or COAs.
In the same year, the Royal Mint issued another commemorative 50p, the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p, in addition to three commemorative £2 coins; the 2013 London Underground Roundel £2 coin, the 2013 London Underground Train £2 coin and lastly the 2013 Anniversary of the Guinea £2 coin.
Is the 2013 Christopher Ironside 50p Coin Rare?
It is generally acknowledged that the coin is not rare given its mintage of 7,000,000. In comparison the 2013 Benjamin Britten 50p coin had a mintage of just 5.3 million.
Despite the fact that there are no strict guidelines for what constitutes a 'low' mintage, 7 million is a significant mintage compared to the majority of other commemorative 50p coins. Nevertheless, it is not a common coin to receive in your change and a wonderful coin to add to your collection.
How Much Is the Ironside 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 Ironside 50p to be worth around £2.20 in today's market excluding any postage costs.
Where Can I Buy the 2013 Christopher Ironside 50p Coin?
You can buy the Ironside 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 10 years old, the Royal Mint no longer stock this coin so it is only available to buy on the secondary market.
We also stock the coin and if you would like to purchase from ourselves then please click here
Are there any known errors of this coin?
The Royal Mint has not confirmed any official errors for this coin.
Bit of Trivia...
Christopher Ironside has over 50 designs of medals, awards and general works to his name covering a host of different countries. His collection of earlier concept sketches, plaster moulds and submission entries for the decimalisation competition are housed in the British Museum.