World Coins

Royal Mint unveils commemorative coins for multiple UK anniversaries in 2021

Five coins will be offered by the Royal Mint in various forms throughout the year marking special occasions or anniversaries.

Images courtesy of the Royal Mint

The Royal Mint has unveiled designs for five commemorative coins for 2021, to be issued in various forms throughout the year. The designs are currently available only as part of annual sets, but will be available later in 2021 in different individual options; some may be issued for circulation.

The Royal Mint will likely also release additional 2021 coins with other themes.

Two 50-penny coins are being issued in 2021, to mark the 50th anniversary of decimalization, and to honor the legacy of John Logie Baird, the Scottish inventor and engineer who developed television technology.

In addition, the Royal Mint announced £2 coins remembering H.G. Wells (see related story, page 8) and honoring Sir Walter Scott.

The final commemorative coin announced for 2021 is a £5 piece marking the 95th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

Decimal design

Decimalization in 1971, after one of the largest and most intensive public awareness campaigns ever staged by the government, introduced the coins that UK residents know today.

According to Clare Maclennan, divisional director of the consumer division at the Royal Mint, “Decimalisation was the birth of modern coin collecting [in the United Kingdom] and it is fitting that the anniversary has been celebrated on a 50 pence — which is Britain’s most loved coin.”

The Decimal Day 50-penny coin features the second effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on its obverse, a portrait created by Arnold Machin for decimalization, to mark the transition and help people identify the new coinage.

The 2021 reverse was created by Royal Mint employee Dominique Evans. It shows overlapping design elements borrowed from the coins that preceded the switch, and of the designs that replaced the earlier coins.  

This coin with the Machin effigy is available only in the sets, the Royal Mint said, suggesting that another version, likely with the current (Jody Clark) effigy, will be used for other coins to be issued later for the same anniversary.

Television pioneer

The other commemorative 50-penny coin marks the 75th anniversary of the death of John Logie Baird, a prolific inventor famous for his early prototypes of television.

The coin design features a television tower at the center, with the dual year dates of his birth and death below (1888 and 1946). Emanating from the tower are signals, with multiple legends including 1926 DEMONSTRATES ANALOGUE TELEVISION. 

Artist Osborne Ross created this design.

The Scottish bard

One of the most influential Scots in history, Sir Walter Scott is renowned for his literary contributions, with a number his many novels and poems remaining classics to day. He is featured on £2 coins for 2021.

His name appears in a font possibly typical for the period of his most prolific work, the late 1770s and early 1800s. The adjectives NOVELIST POET HISTORIAN appear in three lines next to his stylized image. The legend 250TH ANNIVERSARY OF HIS BIRTH surrounds. The initials SR for designer Stephen Raw also appear.

A coin fit for a queen

Another design for 2021 is the 95th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II on a £5 coin.

Her birthday is April 21, 1926, and the Royal Mint notes that Queen Elizabeth II would be “the first British monarch to reach such a grand age.”

During her reign the Royal Mint has created five different effigies of Queen Elizabeth II, and she appears on every British coin in circulation.

The monarch’s symbol appears on the £5 coin’s reverse, in a design by Timothy Noad, avoiding a coin with two portraits.

Options, specifications

All of the 2021 coins referenced here, except for the Decimalization coin, feature the Jody Clark effigy of Queen Elizabeth II on the obverse. And all of the coins are struck to the same diameters as the standard counterparts.

Six different sets featuring the commemorative designs are already offered for 2021, ranging from a base metal Brilliant Uncirculated set, to a set of gold coins with Proof finishes.

The Brilliant Uncirculated set offers base metal versions of all five special 2021 designs, plus the eight definitive or standard circulating designs. This set has an unlimited mintage and retails for £55.

Two base metal Proof sets offer 13 coins each (five 2021 special designs and eight standard designs), the only difference being the nickel-brass medalet exclusive to the respective set.

The 2021 United Kingdom Proof Coin set features a square medalet designed by Kerry Davies. In total, 7,000 sets are available, for £155 each.

The Premium Proof set features a round medalet designed by the Royal Mint design team. In total, 2,500 sets are available, for £210 each.

The Proof .925 fine silver set features silver versions of all five special designs for 2021, and of all eight definitive (standard) circulating designs. For the set’s £2 coins, the outer rings are plated with gold. In total, 550 sets were offered, at a retail price of £640 each.

The Proof .925 fine silver piedfort set features silver versions of all five special designs for 2021. The outer rings of the set’s £2 coins are plated with gold. In total, 300 silver piedfort sets were offered, each at a retail price of £587.50.

The Proof .9167 fine gold set features gold versions of all five special designs for 2021. In total, 95 sets were offered, each for £7,100, but they sold out quickly.

In addition to these sets, the annual definitive BU set, featuring only BU versions of the eight circulating coins, is also available. This set has an unlimited mintage, and retails for £30.

For full details, visit a dedicated page at the Royal Mint’s 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