One of the iconic Beatrix Potter 50p coins, the Tailor of Gloucester has been in circulation for a couple of years now, but how much is it worth today?
According to average sold values on eBay, the Tailor of Gloucester 50p Coin is worth £1.39 in circulated condition without postage and packaging.
The Beatrix Potter 50ps tend to be more collectible as they are part of a collection, so be sure to check around your house to see if you have one laying around!
How many Tailor of Gloucester 50p coins were made?
The Tailor of Gloucester 50p coin was released in 2018. The standard circulated edition has a mintage of 3.9 million. There were three other Beatrix Potter commemorative 50p coins minted that year, continuing a trend from the first set released in 2016. Also minted in 2018 were the Flopsy Bunny 50p (1.4 million mintage), the second Peter Rabbit 50p (1.4 million mintage) and the Mrs Tittlemouse 50p (1.7 million mintage), making the Tailor of Gloucester coin the most common by a considerable margin.
Two other versions of the Tailor of Gloucester 50p coin were minted alongside the standard cupronickel version – a brilliant uncirculated (BU) version and a coloured silver proof version (30,000 mintage). Unlike some other Beatrix Potter coins, the Royal Mint didn’t produce a gold proof version.
The design of the Tailor of Gloucester 50p coins
The obverse of the coin features the 2015 coinage portrait of the Queen by Jody Clark, the first Royal Mint employee to create a portrait in 100 years – the practice is usually completed by artists working outside of the Mint. The inscription ‘ELIZABETH II.D.REG.F.D.50 PENCE.2018’ appears around the portrait. Ordinarily, the denomination appears on the reverse face of the coin, but certain Beatrix Potter coins feature it on the portrait side.
The reverse features a portrait of the Tailor of Gloucester, sitting cross-legged on a roll of cotton and reading a newspaper entitled ‘The Tailor’. The designer’s initials ‘en’ appear on the base of the roll.
On the silver proof version, the cotton is accented in red, and the character’s fur is in brown and yellow.
Along with all the Potter coins that came before it, the Tailor of Gloucester 50p coin was designed by Royal Mint employee Emma Noble. For the entire Beatrix Potter series, Noble worked from the author’s original watercolours. Potter herself was a skilled artist and the Royal Mint took great care to replicate the character and subtle complexity of the original work. Noble took time to first pick out an illustration that was suitable for inclusion on the reverse of the coin, and then ensured that when the work was reduced to the requisite size on the back of a standard 50p coin, it didn’t lose its artistic quality.
Speaking to peterrabbit.com, the designer said: ‘I tried to make sure that Beatrix’s characters are instantly recognisable on the coins, with every whisker, spine or feather captured in fine detail. I also tried to achieve a delicate balance between each character and the inscription; the famous names clear for all to see.
Why was it made and what does it commemorate?
The coin celebrates the publication of The Tailor of Gloucester (1903), the fourth of Potter’s books to be published, after the tales of Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin.
Potter was born into an upper-middle class family in Brompton, London. Both of her parents, Rupert and Helen, were keen artists and encouraged her to pursue her talents. As a child her parents took Beatrix and her brother, William, to an estate on the River Tay where the Potter children were free to roam the Scottish countryside. This experience sparked Potter’s lifelong interest in the natural world and formed the basis for her love of animals and the countryside that shone through her novels.
From the age of eight, Potter immersed herself in the world of fairytales such as Aesop’s Fables and Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense. This led to a love of literature that would eventually culminate in The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter’s tales were initially rejected by publishing house Frederik Warne and Co., but upon the recommendation of renowned children’s author L. Leslie Brooke, the firm agreed to publish her work.
Potter often declared The Tailor of Gloucester to be her favourite of all the books she wrote. The story is about a tailor whose work on a waistcoat is finished by a group of mice, that the Tailor had previously from a cat.
The book is based on real world events, involving a tailor (of the human kind!) and his assistants. Potter’s cousin, Caroline Hutton, lived in Gloucester and Potter heard the story from her whilst she was working on her third book, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
The incident involved a tailor named John Prichard. On a certain Friday, Prichard was asked to make a suit for the new mayor. When he opened his shop the following Monday, to his astonishment, the suit had been completed all bar one buttonhole, with a mysterious note attached that read “No more twist”.
Obviously, his assistants had completed the coat themselves, but ever the self-promoter, the tailor concocted a story that that fairies had completed the suit, and the tale passed into local legend, prompting Potter’s version of events.
Prichard was eleven years younger than Potter, but in the books, the Tailor is depicted as a crooked mouse with bony fingers and wizened eyes. Potter also set the events in the eighteenth century.
The book features illustrations and watercolours in-line with her first four books, in the style that would come to define her both as an author and an artist.
Potter drew the street where Prichard’s tailor’s shop and used a local Chelsea tailor as a model for the interiors of the Tailor’s shop (who were sent a special copy of the book when it was published. As was often the case, Potter used costumes from the Kensington Museum as a basis for her illustrations of eighteenth-century dress.
Where can you get the coin?
For circulated versions it’s always worth having a look on eBay and seeing what examples are out there; just be careful before you decide to make a purchase and do your due diligence.
As we’ve already mentioned the Royal Mint has silver and brilliant uncirculated versions available at their shop here.
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