World Coins

Royal Mint marks insulin discovery on 50-penny coin

The Royal Mint marks the centennial of the discovery of insulin with a new 50-penny coin.

Images courtesy of the Royal Mint.

The Royal Mint has launched a commemorative 2021 50-penny coin in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, marking the historic medical breakthrough for the first time on an official UK coin.

The 100 Years of Insulin 50-penny coin celebrates the life-saving treatment for diabetes discovered by researchers Dr. John Macleod (a University of Aberdeen graduate), Sir Frederick Banting, Dr. Charles Best and Dr. James Collip in 1921.

Designed by renowned artist Iris De La Torre, the contemporary design is an artistic interpretation of the structure of insulin along with its molecular formula.

Design inspiration

Inspired by an image of human insulin crystals through a microscope, the design features a geometric repeating pattern using hexagons and circular shapes on the canvas of the coin.

Available in copper-nickel and precious metal versions, the 50-penny coin is the fifth release in the Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series, which pays tribute to some of the greatest scientific discoveries.

The latest release follows commemorative coins in recognition of the life and work of inventors Charles Babbage, John Logie Baird, Rosalind Franklin and Stephen Hawking.

The Royal Mint’s divisional director of commemorative coins, Clare Maclennan, said regarding insulin discovery, “A landmark medical breakthrough of the 20th century, it has transformed the lives of people with diabetes for 100 years and is a fitting addition to our Innovation in Science collectable series, marking the greatest scientific innovations and the remarkable people behind them.”

Designer of the 100 Years of Insulin coins, artist De La Torre, said: “I came up with a design inspired by images of an accurate segmentation of single-isolated human insulin crystals for in-situ microscopy that I found in a medical document online. The image shows segments of human insulin crystals in the form of hexagons. It is a beautiful image and inspired a pattern repeat which worked well on the 50p coin.”


Four examples of the design are available.

All four coins feature the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse, and measure 27.3 millimeters in diameter.

The Brilliant Uncirculated copper-nickel coin weighs 8 grams, has an unlimited mintage and retails for £10.

The Proof .925 fine silver version weighs 8 grams, has a mintage of 3,710 pieces and retails for £57.50.

The Proof .925 fine silver Piedfort version weighs 16 grams. It has a mintage limit of 1,510 pieces and retails for £102.50.

The Proof .9167 fine gold coin weighs 15.5 grams. It has a mintage limit of 260 pieces and retails for £1,065.

For more information, or to order the coins, visit the Royal Mint website,

Connect with Coin World:  
Sign up for our free eNewsletter
Access our Dealer Directory  
Like us on Facebook  
Follow us on Twitter

Community Comments