If you’re into 50p coins, there’s no doubt you will have heard of the Benjamin Bunny 50p. It’s a coin with a great design, but how much is it worth?
We’ve looked at eBay, and a Benjamin Bunny 50p coin sells for an average of £1.03 without postage.
There’s no doubt it’s a great coin to add to your collection, and as shown the value of them is still low on secondary marketplaces. In this article we will explore more about the coin, including how many were made and the significance of the coin.
How many Benjamin Bunny 50p coins were made?
The 2017 Benjamin Bunny coin is one of four 50p coins released in 2017 to celebrate the life and times of Beatrix Potter, following on from the 2016 set of five that proved to be an astounding success for the Royal Mint.
25 million of the 2017 Benjamin Bunny coins were minted, by far the most of any commemorative 50p coin created in 2017, either as part of the Potter set or otherwise. The second edition Peter Rabbit coin is closest with a mintage of 19.9 million, but after that there is a significant drop off in the mintage of the Potter coins. Next comes the Jeremy Fisher 50p with 9.9 million and lastly Tim Kitten at 9.5 million. The other commemorative 50p coins minted that year are even rarer – the Sir Isaac Newton 50p and the reissue of the Royal Shield 50p come in at 1.8 million each.
Aside from the standard Brittania and Royal Shield 50p’s (first put in to circulation in 2008, to replace the Britannia design), the 2017 Benjamin Bunny 50p is the most common commemorative 50p coin in circulation in Britain today, with a mintage of over double that of the next rarest coin – the 2006 VC award, of which 12 million were produced. Despite this, the coin is still only marginally scarcer than that of the VC coin, which represents the fact that whilst it has a higher mintage, slightly fewer of them are in circulation and are thus not as common.
The design of the Benjamin Bunny 50p coin
The coin is 27.3mm in diameter and weighs 8g.
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.2017’ appears around the portrait.
The reverse of the coin features a full torso portrait of Benjamin Bunny, in his trademark jacket and comedic, oversized tam-o-shanter – a traditional Scottish cap made famous by Robert Burns in the poem of the same name. Benjamin’s right hand is clutching an item of clothing – representing his mission to get back his cousin Peter Rabbit’s clothing that Peter lost in the first book – and an onion in his left. The two cousins were perennially stealing food from the McGregor farm.
The coin was designed by Royal Mint employee Emma Noble. For the entire Beatrix Potter series, Noble worked from the author’s original watercolour illustrations of her characters. Potter herself was a skilled painter 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.
Following on from the 2016 series, the 2017 series of Potter coins were also cast in coloured silver proof, alongside a standard BU (brilliant uncirculated) version. Slightly more of these coloured Benjamin Bunny coins were made compared to the rest of the Potter set in 2017 – 30,000. In this version, Benjamin’s coat is brown and his tam-o-shanter is accented in green on the felt with a red bobble on top.
Why was it made and what does it commemorate?
The coin celebrates Beatrix Potter’s children’s book The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, the fifth of Potter’s books to be published. The 2016 Potter series was minted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the author’s birth, but later series simply focused on characters in her novels.
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, prompting the Royal Mint to make the mischievous bunny the first character in the Potter coinage series. 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 the work.
Published in 1904, The Tale of Benjamin Bunny is the sequel to The Tale of Peter Rabbit and expands on the world that Potter created for her readers. Although far simpler in tone and language than her first novel (Potter wanted to create a book for younger readers), the book is notable in the author’s canon of works for its remarkable illustrations, drawn by Potter herself. The Tale of Peter Rabbit is filled with illustrations from the Potters’ summer retreat in Scotland, but The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, Potter takes inspiration from her holidays in the Lake District – more specifically, the family’s residence in Keswick, Cumbria.
Where can you buy the coin?
At the time of writing this article there are no Benjamin Bunny 50p coins available to buy directly from the Royal Mint.
eBay is a great place to buy circulated versions, just always be wary before making the purchase as there are always fakes going around.
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