SCIENCE enthusiasts will soon be able to get their hands on a Stephen Hawking 50p coin – and it could be as early as next month.
The Royal Mint will be issuing the new coin to celebrate the life of one of the world’s most famous physicists.
The coin makers first announced that it would be launching a commemorative coin earlier this month but it’s keeping tight-lipped about the finer details.
Here’s what we know so far:
Who is Stephen Hawking?
Stephen Hawking is a renowned physicist who is famous for his work on the basic laws which govern the universe – including theories about the Big Bang and black holes.
Described as the greatest scientific brain since Albert Einstein, the physicist was also considered a medical marvel, having lived for more than half a century with the devastating condition motor neuron disease.
He studied Cosmetology at Cambridge University and became a household name after publishing his book called A Brief History About Time in 1988.
He went on to published more books including Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, The Universe in a Nutshell, The Grand Design and My Brief History.
In 2014 his life story was turned into the film The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his performance.
Stephen Hawking died on March 14, 2018 at the age of 76 from his long term illnesses.
What will the Stephen Hawking 50p look like?
According to the Royal Proclamation announcing the coin, the 50p will feature a “stylised depiction of a black hole”.
It will also have STEPHEN HAWKING written around the edge on the tails side.
Like similar commemorative coins, the design will be minted on gold, standard silver, silver piedfort and cupro-nickel bases.
What are the most valuable 50p coins?
HAVE a rummage through the change in your pocket for rare 50p coins because they could be worth a small fortune.
Kew Gardens, up to £160
This rare commemorative coin was created in 2009 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of London’s Kew Gardens. Only 210,000 of these coins were issued and a quick check online shows up that a circulated coin with this design sold for £160 on eBay after it got 25 bids.
Sir Isaac Newton, up to £77
At first, just 375 of the Sir Isaac Newton coins were released into the tills at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace and home of the famous scientist, but more of the coins were slowly released into circulation – adding up to a total of 1.8million. The majority of these coins are still boxed in protective packaging and they’re selling for around £76.99 online.
Jemima Puddle Duck, up to £13.50
There are only 2.1million of these coins in circulation and one of the coins recently sold for 27 times its value at £13.50 on eBay.
Suffragettes, up to £7.50
There are currently 3.1million of the coins in circulation. Recently, one coin that had been in circulation fetched £7.50 on eBay – that’s 15 times its face value.
WWF, up to £4.50
There are 3.4million coins in circulation and they are hugely popular amongst collectors. We found one that was recently sold for £4.50.
Britannia, up to £1.81
Britannia was replaced by the new Royal Shield in 2008 as the standard 50p design, and none have been issued since, making the ones minted in that year valuable to collectors. Only 3.5million were issued into circulation and one recently sold on eBay for £1.81.
We’ve asked the Royal Mint if it can give us any more details but in the meantime, Coin Hunter has put together a mock up of when the coin may look like.
The design is based on the black hole that is engraved on the scientist’s grave stone at Westminster Abbey, where he is buried.
When is it going to be released?
This will mark the first anniversary of the physicists death.
If it is released then, Stephen Hawking could be come one of only three people in British history to be commemorated on a coin within a year of their death.
What to do if you’ve found a rare coin
FIRSTLY, you need to make sure the coin is legitimate and not counterfeit.
Around one in every four old £1 coins were thought to be fake, according to the Royal Mint, so there are probably more fakers in your spare change then you realise.
The Royal Mint is unable to value a coin but it can confirm whether it is real or not. They will usually supply you with a letter to confirm this.
Once you’ve found out whether the coin is real or not, you have a number of options – either selling it through a coin dealer, at auction or on eBay.
The only other Brits this is has happened to is Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
How valuable is it going to be?
How much the coin is worth depends on how many of them are released – the fewer there are then the rarer and more valuable they will be.
It also depends on whether it will enter circulation or not – this will have a huge impact on whether it will end up in your change or not.
Often, when a new coin is launched it’s first made available as a collectable before it is put into circulation.
Last year, The Royal Mint released the Paddington Bear 50p as a commemorative coin in June but wasn’t released into circulation until October.
The coin makers also caused a stir when it released just 375 Sir Isaac Newton 50p pieces at the tills at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, the birthplace and home of the famous scientist.
But more of the coins were slowly released into circulation – adding up to a total of 1.8million, making it the second rarest 50p behind the 2009 Kew Gardens coin.
In the end, the coins were flogged online for around £77 each.
If it’s anything like the Kew Gardens coin, it could be worth up to £160 on eBay, but it could also flop like the Britannia coin which is only worth around £1.81.
The Royal Mint normally sells commemorative 50p coins for £10 when you buy them directly from the website.
Check out our guide to the most valuable 50p coins to see if you have a something rare in your pocket.