Olympic and Paralympic Games 50p coins 'disappearing' from circulation

01 Aug 2012

A selection of 50p coins from the London 2012 Sports CollectionThe Royal Mint has confirmed today that more commemorative 50p coins featuring London 2012 sporting designs are being taken out of circulation by members of the public than any other commemorative coin released into circulation since decimalisation.

The Royal Mint expects and plans for 2 to 3% of new 50p coins released into circulation to be removed by collectors or simply be lost. But a recent audit* suggests that of the 29,363,613 Sports 50ps issued into circulation to date, more than 70% - or £10,277,264 - will be hoarded by people keen to collect a free souvenir of London 2012 by the time the Games begin – 67% above the usual level of removal.

While it’s not unusual for special commemorative coins to be collected from circulation in high numbers, the Sports 50ps are set to break records of their own. In the case of the commemorative Victoria Cross 50p issued in 2006, of the 22 million released more than 10 million disappeared from circulation – 48% above the expected level of removal for a standard 50p featuring Britannia. The more interesting the design and the smaller the number of coins issued, the higher the percentage likely to be removed from circulation, demonstrating the appetite the nation has for collecting coins that can be handed down from one generation to the next.

Revealed in October 2010, the Sports 50ps are the first UK coins ever designed by members of the public. Featuring all 29 Olympic and Paralympic sports, designers came from across the country and ranged from an eight year old schoolgirl to a 75 year old former social worker. Since they were launched the 29 coins have been released into the banking system, design by design, over the last 20 months. The final coins will enter the system in the autumn.

To encourage those who have taken up the challenge to collect all 29 coins, The Royal Mint has released a free collectors folder, available from its website, www.royalmint.com, for the price of postage and packaging. You can also share collecting tips and stories with fellow 50p collectors on The Royal Mint’s Facebook page, facebook.com/theroyalmint

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For media enquiries or images, please contact The Royal Mint Press Office on 020 7853 2390. Images of The Royal Mint and its products are available upon request.

Notes to Editors

*Numismatic Consultant Patrick MacKenzie was commissioned by The Royal Mint to undertake an audit of the rates of withdrawal of commemorative coins from circulation in November 2011. He examined a sample size of 25,000 coins from around the country and benchmarked the number of Sports 50ps discovered in comparison with the standard Britannia 50ps. These figures were compared to the numbers of each coin originally issued. Then, using the normal removal rate of 2-3% for the Britannia 50ps Mr MacKenzie was able to estimate the number of Sports 50ps set to disappear.

On 1 January 2010 the assets of The Royal Mint Trading Fund were vested into a private company, called The Royal Mint Limited. HM Treasury remains 100% owner of the shares of the company. All assets of an historical nature have been vested into a separate company, The Royal Mint Museum, to preserve, protect and enhance them for future generations to come. With the exception of the assets separated into the Museum, all other assets and liabilities, including those of a contingent nature, were transferred into the new company effective 1 January 2010.

About The Royal Mint

  • The Royal Mint has a history dating back over 1,000 years. By the late thirteenth century the organisation was based in the Tower of London, and remained there for over 500 years. By 1812 The Royal Mint had moved out of the Tower to premises on London’s Tower Hill. In 1967 the building of a new Royal Mint began on its current site in Llantrisant, South Wales.
  • There were estimated to be 28.6 billion UK coins in circulation at 31 March 2011, with a total face value of £3.8 billion – all manufactured by The Royal Mint.
  • 1.1 billion UK coins were issued during 2010-11.
  • The Royal Mint’s Llantrisant site was recently chosen to host the Prime Minister David Cameron’s first government cabinet meeting in Wales.