Introducing the Benjamin Britten 50p Coin
Over the course of his life, Benjamin Britten’s remarkable accomplishments cover a diverse range of musical fields. From opera to orchestral pieces to vocal music, Britten had an impressive talent in creating and performing widely-loved music. His skills as a composer are reflected in the line inscribed on the coin, “Blow Bugle Blow, set the wild echoes flying.” The line is from Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Splendor Falls on Castle Walls,” which Britten set to music in his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. The British composer’s name is also arranged between two musical staves, speaking to Britten’s talent as a virtuoso pianist.
Benjamin Britten 50p 2013
This Benjamin Britten 50p coin was created in 2013 for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the British composer’s birth. Designed by Tom Phillips CBE RA, the coin also presents a few firsts in British currency. The Blow Bugle Blow 50p is the first to have both the date and 50p denomination only on the obverse side and it’s the first coin to feature a line of poetry. It is also the first coin to feature a composer.
Tom Philips described his thought process further, “What I wanted the coin to speak of was music. Thus the stave soon entered the design and his name married well with the stave. The natural accompaniment with Britten’s passion for poetry as our preeminent composer of opera and song, was some kind of key quotation. The words which eventually suggested themselves, come from the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. What better clarion call for a musical anniversary could there be than “Blow, bugle, blow: set the wild echoes flying”?
(Publicity photo of Benjamin Britten taken by Hans Wild for High Fidelity magazine)
How Much Is the Benjamin Britten 50p Worth?
Despite its mintage of 5.3 million, the Benjamin Britten 50p is still considered fairly common. As of 2019, the highest sold at auction on eBay is worth 300% of its face value.
Other Benjamin Britten Coins
There are other Benjamin Britten 50p coins beyond the ones in circulation. The Royal Mint has also released a very limited run of 150 Gold Proof coins, 1,000 Silver Proof coins, and about 5,000 Brilliant Uncirculated versions.
(75% copper, 25% nickel)
|Obverse Designer||Portrait of Her Majesty the Queen 2013 – Ian Rank-Broadley FRBS|
|Reverse Designer||Tom Phillips CBE RA|