(75% copper, 25%
|Obverse Designer||Portrait of Her Majesty the Queen
2003 - Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS
|Reverse Designer||Mary Milner Dickens|
The figure of a suffragette chained to railings and holding a banner on which appear the letters WSPU, to the right a ballot paper marked with a cross and the words GIVE WOMEN THE VOTE, to the left the value 50 PENCE, and below and to the far right the anniversary dates 1903 and 2003.
The design featured on the reverse of the 2003 fifty pence coin celebrates the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Women's Social and Political Union, a seminal movement initiated by Emmeline Pankhurst that campaigned passionately for equal voting rights for women. Mary Milner Dickens' sensitively balanced composition conveys the determination and commitment of the pioneering group of women who risked public and private ridicule, and sometimes even imprisonment, in defence of their beliefs. The design features some of the most powerful imagery of the period including the WSPU standard, the railings to which women chained themselves, and the Ballot Paper.
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.