In 2011, the Royal Mint issued 29 coins to represent individual sporting events to commemorate the 2012 London Olympics, with one of these being the Canoeing 50p.
This coin sells for an astonishing £2.91 according to average values on eBay in 2022, but what makes it worth so much more than face value to collectors?
How Rare Is The Canoeing 50p?
The Canoeing 50 pence Olympic 2011 Olympic coin is considered to be the 26th rarest of the 29 when looking at mintage figures alone. There were slightly more than 2 Million, with 2,166,500 Canoeing 50p coins minted – which is a low mintage amount in the grand scheme of all circulated 50p coins.
The coin was also issued as a Specimen in Card labelled as Card 8/29, and a Silver Brilliant Uncirculated 0.925 Silver version.
Additionally, the coin was part of two sets as the London 2012 Sports Collection Collector Album and the London 2012 Silver 50p Sports Collection with a mintage limit of 30,000, but the actual minting is unknown.
One very special 0.917 gold coin was given to the artist, Timothy Lees.
Canoeing 50p Olympic Coin Design
The reverse side of the Canoeing 50 pence coin was designed by Timothy Lees. It features a canoeing athlete paddling himself through a slalom course. Two hanging gates are seen on both sides and behind the athlete to indicate he has made it through them and is headed to complete the rest of the course. The waves appear to be fierce with detailed splashes. The athlete’s face looks determined.
Centred at the top is the London 2012 Olympic logo design created by the Wolff Olins consultancy firm. Centred at the bottom and curved upward slightly are the words 50 PENCE which is indented into the coin rather than most of the other Olympic coins that show these letters raised.
The coin is part of the standard 50 Pence coins, so it is a 7-sided shape that forms an equilateral curved heptagon and is made of Cupro-nickel alloy. It has a face value of 50 pence, weighs 8.00 g, has a diameter of 27.3 mm, and is 1.78 mm thick.
In addition to the standard 50p designs, the Royal Mint released 29 special commemorative coins to celebrate individual sporting events set to be held at the 2012 London Olympics.
The obverse design features an Ian Rank-Broadley design of Her Majesty facing right and wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland diamond tiara. Surrounding her portrait are the words ELIZABETH II * D * G * REG * F * D * 2011. Small letters just below her head are the signature mark of the artist, IRB.
The edge is plain with no inscription.
Canoeing at the Olympic Games
Canoeing is a paddling sport that requires an athlete to manoeuvre a specific boat through the water using paddles. Competitors take part in slalom or sprint disciplines in a canoe or a kayak.
The slalom events have athletes make their way through hanging downstream or upstream gates. The sprint events are a race, sometimes called flat water racing.
During the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Canoeing took place from July 29 through August 2. It included canoes and kayaks.
The event featured both the slalom and sprint disciplines held at Lee Valley White Water Centre and Dorney Lake, called Eton Dorney. There were 16 total events with 330 athletes competing.
The 2012 Olympics in London was of significant importance to women athletes. For the first time, women competed in two individual sprint events.
Events were completed as heats, semifinals, and finals. During the competition, the number of paddlers within a boat is indicated by a figure next to the type of boat. C indicates a canoe, and K indicates a Kayak. The 2012 Olympic competitions included:
- Men’s C-1
- Men’s C-2
- Men’s K-1
- Women’s K-1
- Men’s C-1 200m
- Men’s C-1 1000m
- Men’s C-2 1000m
- Men’s K-1 200m
- Men’s K-1 1000m
- Men’s K-2 200m
- Men’s K-2 1000m
- Men’s K-4 1000m
- Women’s K-1 200m
- Women’s K-1 500m
- Women’s K-2 500m
- Women’s K-4 500m
While France was Number One in the slalom winning 2 gold medals, Germany secured the Number One spot on the medal table. Germany won 3 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 3 bronze medals. Following closely in the second position was Hungary. Great Britain took third place.
About the Designer of the Canoeing 50p
Each of the 29 commemorative Olympic 50p coins was designed by individual designers who were the winners of a competition to determine who the Royal Mint would use for each coin’s reverse design to represent the sports. The Canoeing Olympic 50p coin was designed by Timothy Lees.
Timothy Lees is a sculptor from Stourton, Wiltshire. He spent his teenage years learning the art of boat building on the granite outcrops of Seychelles. During these boat-building teen years, he became interested in geology which eventually developed into a stone sculpting skill.
He is also an Associate Member of the Royal British Sculptors and an elected member of the Mastercarvers Association. In addition to being chosen to design the canoeing coin, he has also won the Stone Federation of Great Britain Craftsmanship Award and awards for work at Stowe Landscape Gardens, Castletown Cox, Eire, with Cliveden Conservation.
He has also taught stone carving at The City and Guilds of London Art School. He was working as a freelance sculptor when he found out about the coin contest.
A colleague told Timothy Lees about the competition. With a background in sculpture, he knew that he would have to scale down any design that he would come up with.
He sketched several designs and decided to depict the sport of canoeing because that was the one that stood out to him. He has done some canoeing for pleasure, so he knew the basics. But, he wanted to capture the dynamics and energy of the sport.
Where To Buy The Coin
eBay is a great place to buy any of the Olympic coins, including the canoeing 50p.
Expect to pay around the average value of £2.86 and keep an eye out for listings that are trying to sell well above this value – you should always purchase from reputable dealers as well.