NHS 50p: How Much Is It Worth And Is It Rare?

The 1998 NHS 50p coin is a 50p coin dedicated to the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in 1948, which was created as part of the social reform following World War 2 and is entirely funded by taxation – but how much is the coin worth today?

The 1998 NHS 50p coin has an average value of £1.85 according to the most recent sold values on eBay.

Let’s take a look into the history behind the coin to see why it regularly sells for above face value on secondary marketplaces and whether it is actually rare or not.

History of the 50p

The 50p coin was introduced in 1969 alongside the 5p and 10p during the decimalisation of the currency. It was not until 1971 that decimalisation was complete, which meant that the pound was equal to 100 new pence.

Prior to this change, each pound was subdivided into 20 shillings with each shilling worth 12 pence; meaning one pound was equal to 240 pence. The shape of the 50p coin – an equilateral curve heptagon – meant nothing had ever been minted like it before.

Prior to 1997, each 50p coin had a weight of 13.5 grams and a diameter of 30 millimetres. Following the introduction of smaller 5p and 10p coins in the early 90s, it was decided that the 50p coin had to also become smaller. The change occurred in 1997 and the new 50p coin had a weight of 8.0 grams and a diameter of 27.3 millimetres.

So, in terms of the new 50p coins, the NHS 50p is one of the earlier iterations coming out the year after the design change. This means you can still find the coin in your change today, even though it is over 20 years old.

The other commemorative 50p issued in 1998 was the EU 50p, and these two coins together marked the very first commemorative 50p designed in the new specifications.

Design of the 1998 NHS 50p

Image of the 1998 NHS 50p Coin
The design of the 1998 NHS 50p

The 1998 NHS 50p coin features a design by David Cornell showing a pair of hands with light radiating from them. Around the edge, the inscription ‘NHS’ can be found 5 times in total. The design pays tribute to the hope that the NHS brought to many following its creation in 1948.

This design is instantly recognisable and has stood the test of time. Some would argue, in fact, that it looks better than some of the designs we are seeing produced in recent years!

Is the 1998 NHS 50p rare?

The 1998 NHS 50p coin is a circulating 50p, as it was minted after 1997 following the change in the design of the 50 pence coin which reduced the coin’s diameter and thickness.

This makes it very difficult to categorise exactly how rare it is, as during those years many people will have collected or saved the coin out of interest. We can take the mintage value as a good starting point for assessing how rare the coin really is.

The mintage for the coin was around 5,001,000 in cupro-nickel composition, with a weight of 8.00 grams, a diameter of 27.30mm and a thickness of 1.78mm.

Does a mintage of 5,001,000 mean the coin is rare?

Well, not exactly. For example, out of all circulating 50p coins produced after the changes to the coin in 1997, the rarest one is the 2009 Kew Garden’s 50p coin which had a mintage of 210,000. A mintage around 5 million isn’t massive though, especially considering how many years it has been in circulation.

If you account for people who have collected the coin, as well as coins that have been damaged, discarded or simply forgotten then it does make this particular coin more sought after. It also helps to explain why people are willing to pay a premium price for it on eBay.

Where Can You Buy The Coin?

The Royal Mint has an online store where you can buy various coins in uncirculated condition, but they do not have any 1998 NHS 50p coins due to how long it has been since they were released.

eBay is a great place to buy the coin, however, but make sure to do your due diligence before purchasing and don’t forget to use the average value as a guideline for bidding.