The 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p coin, not to be confused with the other 50p coins featuring Peter, is a fan favourite amongst coin collectors.
It’s been in circulation for a few years now, but how much exactly is it worth?
According to eBay, the coin is selling for an average of £1.15 not including postage.
How many 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p coins were made?
The Peter Rabbit 50p was first released alongside four other Beatrix Potter commemorative 50p coins in 2016, and is the first in a long line of coinage to be produced representing Potter’s contribution to British culture. The coin was the first in the series to be produced by the Royal Mint, and is the most common coin to be produced that year, with a mintage figure of 9.7 million. The next most common coin to be produced in 2016 was the Mrs Tiggy Winkle 50p, with a mintage of 8.8 million but there is then a significant drop off to the other animals in the series. The Squirrel Nutkin 50p has a mintage of 5 million and only 2 million of the Jemima Puddle-Duck 50p were made.
The 2016 Peter Rabbit is not the only 50p coin to feature Beatrix Potter’s main character, nor is it the only rabbit ever to be featured on a British 50p coin – the other two being Flopsy Bunny in 2018, and the Benjamin Bunny 50p in 2018. In 2017 and 2018 the Royal Mint issued two different Peter Rabbit coins in 2017 and 2018, each with their own design and mintage. The 2017 Peter Rabbit is by far the most common, with a mintage of 19.9 million but the 2018 Peter Rabbit is rare by comparison, with only 1.4 million ever made.
The design of the 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p coin
The obverse of the coin features the 2015 coinage portrait of the Queen by Jody Clark.
The reverse features a large head, shoulders and chest portrait of Peter Rabbit, with his paws holding onto his lapels and the words ‘PETER RABBIT’ inscribed either side of the ears, designed by Royal Mint engraver Emma Noble. For the entire Beatrix Potter series, Noble worked from the author’s original watercolours 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.
Emma Noble has hailed the 2016 Peter Rabbit as the favorite of all her Potter engravings, citing it as the most instantly recognisable illustration in her entire canon of work, and it being the first in the Potter series to be released.
The 2016 Potter series, Peter Rabbit included, also has the distinction of being the among the first set of 50p coins to be produced in silver proof colour (excluding the portrait of the Queen), alongside a standard BU (brilliant uncirculated) version. The Royal Mint produced 16,000 coloured copies of Emma Noble’s 2016 Peter Rabbit 50p design, featuring the main character’s iconic blue jacket and brown accenture on the face and ears, but this version was quickly snapped up by collectors and sold out soon after. The coloured version of the coin is not currently in circulation and as such fetches a relatively high price at auction.
Why was it made and what does it commemorate?
The coin, along with the set it was released in, celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of the English children’s author, artist, natural scientist and conservationist Beatrix Potter (b. 1866 – d. 1943).
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 8, 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.
The character of Peter Rabbit was inspired by one of Potter’s own pets, a rabbit named Peter Piper. The Peter Rabbit 50p represents just how ingrained in British culture Potter’s work has become. Peter Rabbit went on to become a huge literary and commercial success. In retelling Peter’s adventures and battles with the infamous farmer, Mr McGregor, as he and his friends attempt to steal the farmers food, Potter created a new kind of children’s character – the animal that, although behaving like a human, still has the wants and desires of being an animal.
Peter Rabbit has featured in countless merchandising promotions ever since the book was first released and has become one of English literature’s most beloved children’s characters. Following the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney reached out to Potter to make an animated Peter Rabbit film, but the author famously declined, not being in full appreciation of the genre.
Where can you buy the coin?
If you’re looking for a circulated version then there are loads available on eBay – just make sure you do your due diligence before picking one up.
Another option is the brilliant uncirculated versions from the Royal Mint if you want that guarantee of quality and are willing to pay a bit more.
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