World Coins

Collecting 50-cent coins: eurozone offers variety

Editor's note: this is the second part of a story about collecting 50-cent coins (and equivalents) by Jeff Starck that appeared in the January 2016 monthly issue of Coin World.

One of the world’s newest currencies offers an abundance of 50-cent coin options as well.

More than 330 million people use the euro daily, in 19 of the 28 countries in the European Union. The multinational currency swept aside legacy currencies like the mark, lira, peso and others, bringing in a decimal system that includes 50-cent coins.

Though the coins are legal tender throughout the eurozone, each nation chooses specific designs for the coins it issues. In several cases, today’s euro coin designs reflect designs from earlier currency.

Louis-Oscar Roty’s La Semeuse (The Sower) has been a mainstay of French coins for more than a century, and today may be seen on the 50-cent coins for France. 

Earlier incarnations of the design appeared on many French coins, including the 50-centime pieces issued from 1897 to 1920.

Lithuania, the newest member of the eurozone, loves its famous Knight Vytis.

Vytis, meaning “the Chaser,” consisting of an armor-clad knight on horseback holding a sword and shield, is the coat of arms for the nation of Lithuania. 

Lithuania’s coat of arms is one of very few containing symbolism adopted from ducal portrait seals, rather than from a coat of arms of a dynasty as for most European countries. The charging knight is depicted on the seal of Grand Duke of Lithuania, Algirdas, dated 1366, and the earliest coins featuring the knight were issued during the last quarter of the 14th century. Vytis appears on pre-World War II coinage of Lithuania and on post-Soviet coinage, including the nation’s euro coins, which officially entered service on Jan. 1, 2015. 

Coats of arms are an oft found coinage standard, and Finland is no exception.

Finland’s coat of arms with the lion rampant dates to about 1580, though the current version was codified in 1978. 

Finland’s 50-cent coin features a lion rampant (rising up), an image borrowed from multiple denominations (including the 50-pennia coin) issued from the start of the republic in 1919. 

But if you’re looking for iconic imagery reflecting a nation on a 50-cent equivalent coin, just look to the United Kingdom. 

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