The Tom Kitten 50p is a fan favourite amongst 50p coin collectors, and for good reason. It’s been out for a good few years now, so how much is the Tom Kitten 50p worth today?
According to past sold values on eBay a Tom Kitten 50p will set you back around £1.21 without postage, according to the latest values in November 2021
The price can vary a lot depending on what version of the coin you decide to buy, but for a circulated version this is how much you can expect to pay. Let’s take a look at why it has this value, as well as what other versions of the coin you can buy.
How many 2017 Tom Kitten 50p coins were made?
Released on 31st July 2017, the 2017 Tom Kitten 50p coin is part of a series of Beatrix Potter coins released that year celebrating the 150th anniversary of the author’s birth.
The 2017 Tom Kitten is the rarest Potter coin minted in that year, with 9.5 million produced. This puts it marginally ahead of the 2017 Jeremy Fisher 50p (9.9 million) but well in front of the far more common 2017 Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny 50p’s, with a mintage of 19.9 million and 25 million respectively.
The coin sits roughly in the middle of the Beatrix Potter series in terms of rarity. For the next year’s Potter series, the Royal Mint decided on minting far less of each design, with The Tailor of Gloucester 50p being the least rare at 3.9 million. All other Potter coins produced that year came in under 1.7 million in mintage. The 2017 Tom Kitten is still less rare than all coins in the 2016 Potter series barring the 2017 Peter Rabbit 50p.
40,000 of the silver proof coloured versions were minted, making that particular version slightly more common than the coloured Benjamin Bunny coin of the same year (30,000).
The design of the 2017 Tom Kitten 50p Coin
Both the cupronickel coin and its coloured silver proof counterpart are 27.3mm in diameter and weigh 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 features a head and shoulders portrait of Tom Kitten, with a rather bored expression on his face, mirroring the picture featured on the original first edition of The Tale of Tom Kitten. The engraver’s initials ‘E.N’ appear on the bottom of the portrait.
The 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.
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. 40,000 of the Tom Kitten coloured coins were made. On this version, Tom’s jacket is blue, and his face and chest are accented with brown tones.
Why was it made and what does it commemorate?
The coin celebrates the publication of The Tale of Tom Kitten, the first of Potter’s series of Sawery books and the twelfth of her books to be published.
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.
Published in September 1907, as with most of Potter’s books, The Tale of Tom Kitten is adorned with beautiful illustrations of the author’s writing environment. In 1906 Potter bought a farm in the Cumbria village of Near Sawrey and named it Hill Top. It soon became a favoured retreat and The Tale of Tom Kitten was the first book to be published in her new writing environment.
The book’s eponymous cat was inspired by Potter’s own cat, Tabitha, who helped to keep the rats at bay at Hill Top (now in the care of the National Trust). Tabitha’s name also lives on in that of Tom’s mother in the book – Tabitha Twitchit.
The book represents Potter’s inherent love of a certain amount of mischievousness and is primarily a story of how children react to manners. Tom’s mother makes repeated attempts to improve his behaviour and stop him from getting into trouble around the village, but in the end, he has too much fun and refuses to be tied down to Victorian morality.
She tries to dress him in upper-class clothing, such as the blue jacket seen on the Emma Noble design, but this is usually met by Tom with the kind of indifferent expression we can see on the coin’s portrait.
Where can you buy the coin?
You can buy brilliant uncirculated versions from the Royal Mint, as well as a gift silver proof version that comes with a book.
If you want to pick up a circulated version then eBay is the way to go, just watch out for listings where the price is way above the average we’ve mentioned above. You’ll also be running the risk of being scammed, so make sure to do your due diligence.
Pay attention to listings that have an asking price of 1 pence as well, as these will charge excess in delivery to make up the cost (and profit!).
Are there any error Tom Kitten 50p coins?
There are no official confirmed errors of the Tom Kitten 50p coin.
There have been a few examples of die clashes over the years, which is where there is the blank planchet used during the striking process is not present. This can cause an impression of the design to be transferred to the opposing die causing a faint impression on the other side.
However, the Royal Mint has yet to recognise any official errors.