Editor's note: this is the third 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.
Britannia has a long and storied history on coinage of what is now the United Kingdom.
Rooted in antiquity, she has become synonymous with Great Britain, now the United Kingdom of Britain, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
For 40 years, the seven-sided 50-penny coin was home to Britannia, before a redesign in 2008 sent her to the sidelines.
But the denomination remains home to circulating commemorative designs as well.
Four years after the 50-penny coin debuted amid decimalization, the first circulating commemorative 50-penny coin was released in 1973, marking Britain’s entry in the European Economic Community (the forerunner to the European Union).
Since then, nearly 50 different designs of 50-penny coins have been issued with commemorative themes.
Notable designs include the 1994 coin celebrating the 50th anniversary of D-Day, showing the Allied forces in the sea and sky.
Sporadic at first, issuance of commemorative 50-penny coins has been nearly annual since 2003, and in 2006 for the first time included two coins in the same theme, the Victoria Cross’s 150th anniversary.
Other topics include 2007’s Scouting Movement Centennial and the 2009 Kew Gardens anniversary, the latter of which has received much attention for having the lowest mintage of a 50-penny coin.