Roger Bannister 50p: Is It Rare or Worth anything?

Breaking the four-minute mile was thought to be an impossible feat, but for one medical student who would later be knighted, it was an accomplishment that went down in British history and earned him a special coin; but how much is the Roger Bannister 50p worth today?

According to average values on eBay, a Roger Bannister 50p will sell for £1.35 without postage and packaging.

The coin is also known as the ‘4-minute mile coin’, as well as the ‘running legs 50p’, and is highly collectable. Let’s take a look at the mintage and design to see how rare it really is.

Roger Bannister 50p Mintage and Rarity

The Roger Bannister 50p coin from 2004 is a fairly common coin. Collecting this coin is going to be a bit more about sentiment or completing a 50p coin collection than finding a rare piece.

While it was the only commemorative 50p released in 2004, it has a mintage of more than 9 million coins that were put in circulation – with 9,032,500 minted to be exact.

This is quite a considerable amount, and similar in value to some other popular 50p coins such as some of the Paddington Bear 50p coins as well as others like the Jeremy Fisher or Tom Kitten 50p coins.

Design Of The Roger Bannister 50p

The coin is part of the 50 pence design with a 7-sided shape that forms an equilateral, curved heptagon. The shape is sometimes called a Reuleaux polygon which is a curve of constant width leaving the diameter of the coin with a consistent measurement regardless of the bisection you measure. As the name implies, the face value of the coin is worth 0.50 pounds sterling.

The Roger Bannister 50p Coin design
Roger Bannister 50p Obverse

The reverse of the Bannister coin features the lower half of an athlete with runners legs in front of a stopwatch that shows just under 4 minutes on the clock. It also reads 50 pence.

On the obverse is the portrait of Queen Elizabeth II facing to the right surrounded with the words Reg F. D. 2004 Elizabeth II D G that stands for Grace of God or Defender of the Faith. The FD stands for Fair Disclosure, which was adopted in 2000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In addition to the standard 50p designs, several reverse designs have been minted on the 50p coin to commemorate important events. The 2004 Roger Bannister 50p coin is patterned after the British decimal fifty pence coin that was introduced in 1969.

On the obverse of the coin, Queen Elizabeth II is pictured. The queen’s portrait has gone through a few different designs. The version used for the Roger Bannister coin was the queen’s portrait designed by Ian Rank-Broadley that features the tiara with a signature mark IRB below the portrait. The reverse side with the legs of a running athlete and stopwatch was designed by James Butler.

There are a few more collectable versions of the 2004 coin that the Royal Mint released:

  • 2004 Gold Proof mintage of 1,250
  • 2004 Silver Proof mintage of 15,000
  • 2004 Silver Proof Piedfort mintage of 7,500
  • Brilliant Uncirculated

The 2009 Roger Bannister 50p Coin

In 2009, the Royal Mint issued NCLT, Non-Circulating Legal Tender coins as part of a 40th anniversary of the first UK 50p coin.

The 2009 Bannister coin was included in the 40th-anniversary set that included 16 different 50p designs in copper-nickel, silver and gold proof and Piedfort. The 2009 Fifty Pence Roger Bannister NCLT coin was the 10th in this group of 16 with a mintage of 1,039.

Other varieties of the 40th-anniversary set include 0.925 silver coins with 1,163 issued, 0.917 gold coins with 70 issued, and 0.917 gold proof Piedfort with 40 issued.

On the obverse was the Fourth Portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. She is wearing the “Girls of Great Britain and Ireland” diamond tiara which was a wedding gift from Queen Mary, her grandmother, in 1947. The initials IR are that of the artist Ian Rank-Broadley.

2019 Roger Bannister 50p Coin

Twenty-five years after the 2004 50p coin, in 2019, another Roger Bannister coin was minted, but that version was never released in the UK circulation. Instead, it was released as a Brilliant Uncirculated commemorative issue that never entered general circulation.

This version was a re-issue of the original 2004 coin and part of the 50 years of the 50 pence coin – British Culture Set by the Royal Mint.

The obverse featured the Fifth Portrait of Queen Elizabeth wearing the Royal Diamond Diadem crown worn for her coronation, with the letters JC indicating the designer was Jody Clark.

Commemoration of the Coin

On May 6, 1954, Sir Roger Gilbert Bannister was the first to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. He broke the 4-minute mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds in Oxford at Iffley Road track. About 3,000 spectators were present to cheer him on.

The crowd cheered so loud as soon as they heard, “The time was three…” that they did not even hear the full official time. They simply knew he had beat the 4-minute-mile record when they heard the time as “three…!”. The announcer, Norris McWhirter, went on to be part of publishing and editing the Guinness Book of Records.

Who was this record-breaking athlete? He was a 25-year-old medical student working as a junior doctor at St. Mary’s Hospital at the time.

He would go on to run the infamous “Miracle Mile” against John Landy of Finland who broke Bannister’s record about a month and a half after Bannister had accomplished beating the 4-minute time. The two men raced with Bannister winning at 3 minutes 58.8 seconds, breaking his original record. He only pulled ahead because Landry took a portion of a second to look back.

Bannister later became a neurologist and chose to focus on medicine, especially the autonomic nervous system, for the next 40 years. However, sports was still in his blood.

Where Can You Buy The RogerBannister 50p?

The usual go-to spot for coin collectors is eBay. Just be absolutely certain that any coin you buy online is what the buyer claims it to be. Other options are local coin dealers or fellow collectors. The average selling price of the Roger Bannister 50p coin is £1.07, so use this as a guideline for the price you want to pay.

You can also check the Royal Mint’s website to see if they have any uncirculated versions in stock.