Christopher Ironside 50p: Is It Rare Or Worth Anything?

The Christopher Ironside 50p is quite unique in the fact that it commemorates a coin designer, but how much is it worth today and is it rare?

According to the most recent sold values in 2022, the Christopher Ironside 50p is worth £1.40 in circulated condition without postage and packaging.

Let’s dive into the mintage and design of the coin to see what makes it so valuable to collectors.

Christopher Ironside 50p Mintage

The Christopher Ironside 50p was released into circulation in 2013 with a mintage of 7,000,000.

Alongside the 7 million released into circulation, additional versions were released by the Royal Mint for collectors.

  • Brilliant Uncirculated in Sealed Pack – 4,403
  • Silver Proof in Box – 1,823
  • Silver Proof Piedfort – 1,500
  • Gold Proof in Box – 198 Worldwide

Is The Coin Rare?

Let’s get straight to the point, is the Christopher Ironside 50p actually rare?

With a mintage of 7,000,000, it is generally accepted that the coin is not very rare. Whilst there are no hard rules for what is considered a ‘low’ mintage, 7 million is quite high compared to most other commemorative 50p coins.

For some context, some of the popular Olympic 50p coins such as the Archery or Boxing coins have mintages between 1 and 3 million. The lowest mintage of a 50p coin is just 210,000 for the Kew Gardens 50p.

Other Names For The Coin

Lots of other 50p coins are identifiable at first glance due to their designs, such as the Beatrix Potter 50p.

However, due to the design of this coin, it can be quite hard to know that it is the Christopher Ironside 50p at first glance.

It is for this reason that it is known under a few different names:

  • 2013 50p – This can be quite confusing as the Benjamin Britten 50p was also minted in 2013.
  • 2013 Lion and Unicorn 50p
  • Coat of Arms 50p
  • 2013 Crest 50p

If you come across any of these terms while browsing don’t be confused – most of them are just literal terms of the design!

Design of the Christopher Ironside 50p

The special commemorative Ironside coin is part of the 50 pence design with the unique 7-sided shape that forms an equilateral-curved heptagon. As the name implies, the face value of the coin is worth 0.50 pounds sterling.

Christopher Ironside 50p coin reverse design
Christopher Ironside 50p Reverse Design

The 2013 commemorative 50p coin features a design of Ironside’s depiction of the Royal Coat of Arms, or royal arms. He chose to represent the image with the 4-section shield in the center and a crown on top. Inside the four sections are images of three lions, a harp, and a lion rampant. A crowned lion is on the left of the shield with a unicorn on the right. 

The encircled shield is surrounded with the words “Honi soit qui mal y pense” which are partially covered by other elements of the image. The words mean “shame on anyone who thinks evil of it.”. Inscribed on the ribbon on the bottom of the image are the words “DIEU ET MON DROIT” which means God and my right, which is the motto of the British monarch. 

History Behind The Design

As it turned out, the coin that was meant to celebrate Christopher Ironside would actually feature one of his own designs. However, he hadn’t intended the design to be used for himself.

When the UK changed the currency to reflect decimal increments, they called for artist submissions to choose from for the reverse side design of the new 50p coin.

The winning design featured a seated Brittania alongside a lion. The words NEW PENCE were placed where now the FIFTY PENCE designation appears. This original winning design that was used on the new coin from 1969 to 2008 was the work of Ironside.

However, at the time, he had also submitted another design that was chosen as the runner-up. It would be this design that the Royal Mint would choose to honour the coin designer on the 2013 commemorative edition of the coin.

The Royal Mint chose this original second-place design to be used for the 2013 coin honouring his life. This design is his Royal Arms design that he had submitted years prior, along with a few other design images, to be considered for use in the 1969 50p decimal coins redesign.

It may have been a second-place Royal Arms design, but even at the time, it was liked so much by the members of The Royal Mint Advisory Committee that it was immediately used in trial pieces of the coins.

They had hoped that it would be used somehow even though it was not the image that would go on to grace the reverse side of the 1969 coin. As it turned out, it ended up being put to good use. But, it would not go into print to be used by the public until 44 years later, when it was chosen for use on the 2013 anniversary coin.

Ironside’s Achievements

The coin is a special commemorative 50p coin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Christopher Ironside. He was an English painter who among many other accomplishments, became a coin designer. This numismatic artist is best known for his design of the reverse sides of the first decimal UK coins.

Of his artistic design work, Ironside had once stated that many artists are never given credit or known, and their work eventually fades away. But, if one is a coin designer, their work will last long after their death.

One thing that Christopher always held true to was his strong belief that coins belonged to the public. Even though it was his work of art they held in their hands, he had no ambition of doing it all for getting the credit.

Other coins he designed over the years include the pre-2008 British 50p reverse side, ten pence, five pence, two pence, one penny, and a former half penny coin.

He also designed coins to commemorate the Isle of Man, Brunei, Tanzania, Singapore, Qatar, and Dubai as well as medallions that commemorated the Britannia Commemorative Society’s Medallion No. 7 “The Spanish Armada” and No. 42 “The Royal Navy, the medal for the 1974 Centenary of Sir Winston Churchill’s birth “This Was Their Finest Hour”, the brass relief memorial for the Earl and Countess Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey, and the brass relief for the 16th Duke of Norfolk in Arundel Castle.

The Secret Life Of A Coin Artist

Part of being a designer of the decimal coins for the Royal Mint meant that Christopher was sworn to secrecy about his work. Everything was to be held strictly confidential. This proved challenging for a man who did a lot of work from home with children present.

All of his hard work came to an abrupt halt in 1966 when the country was on the verge of an election. The Chancellor up for election announced that Britain would be going decimal and opened up the design to anyone who wanted to enter. Instead of letting this keep him down and worried, Christopher decided to enter the contest for the coin design and make such an excellent design that there would be no competition.

He came up with four drawings that he submitted anonymously to the Advisory Committee for consideration.

Where Can You Buy The 2013 Christopher Ironside 50p?

The easiest and fastest way to acquire one of these coins is to go online.

eBay is the best option for circulated versions, but be careful of high postage costs. For uncirculated versions, you can check the Royal Mint’s website for stock or visit other coin dealerships.