(75% copper, 25%
|Obverse Designer||Portrait of Her Majesty the Queen
2000 - Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS
|Reverse Designer||Mary Milner Dickens|
The turning pages of a book, the anniversary dates "1850" and "2000", and the value "50 PENCE", all above a classical library building on which appear the words "PUBLIC LIBRARIES" and, within the pediment, representations of compact discs.
When the Public Libraries Act received the Royal Ascent in 1850, Charles Dickens hoped 'that the books thus made available will prove a source of pleasure and improvement in the cottages, the garrets and the cellars of the poorest people'. Without doubt, laying the foundations for today's network of public libraries, the Act brought knowledge and literature within the reach of every member of society. The start of the new millennium marked the 150th anniversary of the Act, and a chance to celebrate everything the modern library service offers. The reverse designer, Mary Milner Dickens, drew inspiration for the design from Arnold Bennett's comment that libraries act as 'an agency for the radiation of light'.
In October 1969 the 50p joined the 5p (shilling) and 10p (florin) coins in circulation, leaving only the three copper coins to be introduced on 15 February 1971 to complete the new series of decimal coins. The design on the reverse of the 50p coin featured a symbol of Britannia that has appeared on our coinage since 1672. While this design may have been traditional, the shape of the new 50p coin, an equilateral curve heptagon, was revolutionary. This made it easily distinguishable from round coins both by feel and by sight, while its constant breadth allowed it to roll in vending machines.
With the introduction of smaller 5p and 10p coins in 1990 and 1992 respectively, the 50p became the largest coin in circulation. In October 1994 the Government announced a further review of the United Kingdom coinage. The results revealed a requirement for a smaller 50p coin, which was duly introduced on 1 September 1997. Since its issue, the 50p has been used on several occasions to celebrate important events, each being commemorated on a new reverse design.
The 50p is legal tender for amounts up to £10.