A Guide to the Dinosaur 50p Coins

As the latest coin set to have been released by the Royal Mint, the ‘Dinosauria Collection’ is proving to be a hit amongst collectors across the UK. But with the announcement that the collection might never make it into circulation, are the coins still worth investing in? And why was the collection made in the first place? We’ve got everything you need to know in our guide to the dinosaur 50p coins.

What are the coin’s designs?

Designed by paleo-artist Robert Nicholls in partnership with the Natural History Museum, the ‘Dinosauria Collection’ marks the first time that dinosaurs have ever been featured on UK coinage. The discovery of the dinosaurs is rooted in British history and the collection highlights the first three dinosaurs to have ever been discovered; the Megalosaurus, the Iguanodon, and the Hylaeosaurus.

Megalosaurus 2020 UK 50p Coin

Megalosaurus 50p coin

The first of the Royal Mint’s ‘Dinosauria Collection’ to be announced was the Megalosaurus 2020 UK 50p coin, and it was released in February of 2020. The coin’s reverse design features the impressive Megalosaurus, one of the first dinosaurs to have been discovered back in 1824 by eccentric palaeontologist William Buckland.

The Megalosaurus, whose name means ‘giant lizard’, is thought to have been a bipedal predator that roamed Britain a whopping 170 million years ago during the Middle Jurassic period.

The design of the coin features the scary looking dinosaur stood on its rear two feet with the engraving ‘MEGALOSAURUS’ at the top of the coin and ‘BUCKLAND 1824’ at the bottom. In front of the dinosaur is the jaw fragment that was found by Buckland in Oxfordshire and led to the discovery of the Megalosaurus. Either side of the coin has the engraving of various fauna, possibly representing the typical plants that would have lived during the same time period.

The design is currently available to buy (July 2020) from the Royal Mint in both a painted and unpainted brilliant uncirculated quality along with silver proof and gold proof qualities.

Iguanodon 2020 UK 50p Coin

Iguanodon 50p coin

The second of the ‘Dinosauria Collection’ to be released was the Iguanodon 2020 UK 50p coin which of course features the iconic Iguanodon. First discovered by Mary Mantell in 1822 whilst travelling through Sussex, the Iguanodon received its name due the similarities found between its teeth and those of an iguana. The Iguanodon was only the second dinosaur in history to receive an official name, with its image later being conceptualised in 1834 by Mary’s husband, Dr Gideon Maxwell.

The Iguanodon is thought to have lived around 140 million years ago during the Early Cretaceous Period as a herbivorous biped. Their large thumb spikes would have been used to fight off predators rather than to catch prey, and their impressive build made them one of the inspirations behind the famous film monster, Godzilla.

The coin follows the same design pattern as the Megalosaurus coin, with the Iguanodon taking centre stage, resting on all four limbs. The inscription at the top of the coin reads ‘IGUANODON’ and at the bottom reads ‘MANTELL 1825’, and various plants surround the dinosaur. In front of the Iguanodon lies the tooth that was first found by Mary Mantell in 1822.

The Iguanodon 2020 UK 50p coin is currently still available to buy from the Royal Mint in brilliant uncirculated, silver proof, and gold proof qualities.

Hylaeosaurus 2020 UK 50p Coin

Hylaeosaurus 50p coin

The last coin in the ‘Dinosauria Collection’ is the Hylaeosaurus 2020 UK 50p coin. The Hylaeosaurus was the first ever armoured dinosaur to be discovered and was the final crucial piece that led to the classification of ‘Dinosauria’ being created in 1842.

Discovered in 1833 by Dr Gideon Mantell, the Hylaeosaurus is believed to have roamed Britain around 135 million years ago as part of the Early Cretaceous period. They had long spikes along their shoulders and sides, which can be seen clearly in the coin’s detail, and they were a herbivorous dinosaur that are likely to have had a relatively low IQ. After Mantell’s fossils were acquired by the British Museum, anatomist Richard Owen was able to finally piece the evidence together and give the clade the iconic dinosaur name we are all familiar with today.

The Hylaeosaurus 2020 UK 50p coin features the dinosaur at the centre of the design with its impressive armour proudly on show. The inscription above the dinosaur reads ‘HYLAEOSAURUS’ and below reads ‘MANTELL 1833’. Leafy fauna surrounds the Hylaeosaurus and in front lies a stack of fossilised armoured plates.

As with the other coins in the collection, the coin is available to buy directly from the Royal Mint in brilliant uncirculated, silver proof, and gold proof qualities.

Will the dinosaur 50p coins go into circulation?

When the Royal Mint releases a new collection of commemorative coins, the first question everyone asks is whether they will go into circulation. It’s understandable, especially when the collection focuses around something that is of interest to a wide range of people.

After hearing that the ‘Dinosauria Collection’ would only be available for purchase directly from the Royal Mint and would not go into circulation, we have to admit that we were surprised. Dinosaurs, in general, have a huge appeal to people of all ages and the collection was intended to be educational rather than just being decorative.

If these coins would have gone into circulation, we are sure they would have been a huge success. This can easily be demonstrated by the mutual disappointment of casual coin collectors across the country. Having to pay for £10 for a coin that only has the value of 50p is not appealing to the vast majority of collectors. The Royal Mint are aware of this though, so why do the coins remain uncirculated?

The reality is that the new collection will likely not be entering circulation due to a lack of demand from post offices and banks to the Treasury. As frustrating as this is, it is out of control of the Royal Mint who are simply trying to produce coins that appeal to old and new collectors alike.

You can check out our guide to the top 5 rarest 50p coins currently in circulation here.

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Are the dinosaur 50p coins worth anything?

With the coins being part of a highly desirable series, are they likely to be worth much? Sadly, we don’t think so. The problem with uncirculated coins is that they tend to be sold in high quantities to allow everyone who wants the collection to get their hands on it. This also means that the coins are available to buy for a long period of time.

If you’ve bought any of the collection, you should not expect to sell it for profit for at least a while as brand new versions of all the qualities are still available to buy directly from the Royal Mint. Having the coins be uncirculated also makes it difficult to assess the rarity and so it’s hard to know whether the collection will be in high demand in the future.

It’s not all negative though! For those of you who are unwilling to spend the £30 required to get the full collection, you may be able to get a good deal on resell websites and save yourself some money. A quick search on eBay shows that the brilliant uncirculated versions of the coin are already selling for as little as £5 each at the minute (July 2020).

If you’re wondering whether the coins are worth the investment, it really depends on you. The ‘Dinosauria Collection’ is undoubtedly a very interesting set and we can imagine it being popular with younger collectors especially. We wouldn’t recommend buying the collection if you’re just planning to sell it in the future as it may take a long time for it to become profitable.

For those of you who simply have an interest in dinosaurs or coin collecting, the collection could be the perfect way to tie your interests together. The added AR (Augmented Reality) capabilities certainly add personal value and enjoyment to the coins, and also make the collection a wonderful gift for children and adults alike.

Final Thoughts

The ‘Dinosauria Collection’ might not have made it to circulation but the coins are still sure to bring joy to those with a passion for dinosaurs. Whilst the coins are unlikely to bring in a profit for quite some time, the added AR capabilities and educational aspect make the set a worthy gift to those looking to start or expand their collections.

If you have any questions about the coins mentioned in this blog, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.