The Fifty Pounds (£50) coin is a non-circulating legal tender (NCLT) denomination issued by the Royal Mint - and sold at face value - since 2016.
The format is used to mark special occasions or themes and is not intended for general circulation - which is served by a banknote of the same value instead. The coins are legal tender, but contrary to popular belief this does not mean that banks and retailers automatically have to accept them (in practice, they do not accept them).
Britannia as a symbol has been depicted on British coinage for centuries. The bullion series called Britannia has been issued in gold since 1987 and in silver since 1997; it has a "definitive" depiction - used on bullion coins (Brilliant Uncirculated grade), as well as one-year designs like this one - used on proofs made for collectors.
In 2014, the reverse was designed by Jody Clark, the author of the Queen's fifth definitive portrait (released the next year); thus, the 2015 coin is notable for the fact that both sides are designed by the same artist. Following on from Robert Hunt’s 2013 Grecian Britannia, his elegant yet powerful interpretation features an art deco Britannia, standing proudly in front of a three-dimensional globe, accompanied by a lion, its tail draped protectively around her feet.
Jody explains: “In approaching my design I started by researching what had gone before. Britannia has appeared in so many different compositions and with such a variety of symbols, I wanted my design to recall her history and tradition but with the elements surrounding Britannia, rather than weighing her down.
In my research I found that Britannia often sat on the globe in an imperial fashion. I did not think that was a very modern concept. Instead, I decided to place it alongside her. I wanted to make the design appear as if Britannia is moving with the globe, and portray a sense of movement, with flowing elements like her dress.
Although some of the elements are motionless - the globe as a backdrop, the shield and trident placed at her side - I feel there is a dynamism to the design. There is a sense of movement as Britannia’s hair and robes flow, as does the mane of the lion, an iconic symbol of strength and pride that I was keen to include, and I hope that the two appear united as I intended them. Although the lion is at Britannia’s feet, its tail is curled around her, protective and tamed.”
In 205, the reverse design was used on this first £50 coin issued by the Royal Mint in this format, which is slightly different from the one ounce in silver. It is in Brilliant Uncirculated grade, presented in a card, with issue price £50.00 (i.e. sold at face value).