Britain Mints New Coin for Benjamin Britten Centennial

Email a Friend

Great Britain is minting a new 50 pence coin to commemorate the centenary of the birth of composer Benjamin Britten.

Engraved on the coin are poet Alfred Lord Tennyson's lines "Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying," which Britten put to music in the Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings.

The design, by coin sculptor Tom Phillip, also shows Britten's name, framed by a double stave in recognition of his virtuosic piano skills. It is said to be the first time a person other than the Queen will have their full name featured on a 50p coin.

The Royal Mint said the coin will be available to collectors on September 27 and will go into general circulation on November 22.

This is not the first time a composer has appeared on British currency: Edward Elgar – with his bushy mustache – was the face on the 20 pound note from 1999 to 2010.

The recent changes to Britain's currency – which include the planned addition of Jane Austen to the 10-pound note – have inspired our colleagues at Studio 360 to ask listeners to nominate great American artists for redesigned US currency.

With that in mind, tell us what you think: Is there a musician you’d like to see on a $1, $5, $10 or $20? Tell us below.


Detail of a new design for the $10, $20, and $50 bills featuring Emily Dickinson, Duke Ellington and Mark Twain - Dean Potter/Dollar Redesign Project