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Friday, February 27, 1998 Published at 11:25 GMT


Old-style 50p pieces withdrawn
image: [ 54m worth of old 50ps have yet to be spent ]
54m worth of old 50ps have yet to be spent

The old-style 50p piece, deemed to be too large and too heavy, was withdrawn from circulation at midnight on Saturday.

[ image: Vending machines will not accept the old 50p from Sunday]
Vending machines will not accept the old 50p from Sunday
There are 108 million coins still circulating, worth 54m, according to the Royal Mint.

"There is still a staggering number of old 50p coins languishing in coat pockets, purses and money boxes throughout the country," said a spokesman.

Although Saturday was the last day for spending or banking the coins, banks will continue to exchange the coins after March 1 provided customers have a bank account.

Since a new smaller and lighter 50p coin was introduced in September, the old version has been gradually phased out.

Factfile on the 50p

  • The UK 50p was the world's first seven-sided coin when it replaced the old 10 shilling note in October 1969 in preparation for decimalisation.

  • The distinctive coin involved more research and consultation than any before it. Early options for the 50p included coins with four, 10 and 12 sides.

  • The reverse design of the 50p coin depicts Britannia. There have been other reverse designs for special commemorative issues, such as the one now in circulation to mark the UK presidency of the EU.

  • In recent years, the 50p coin has become the chosen denomination to commemorate great events in Europe.

  • Both the old and new 50p coins are made of cupro-nickel. The old version weighs 13.5 grams. The new, smaller version weighs just eight and is just 27.3mm across, reduced from 30mm.

  • The UK has one other seven-sided coin - the 20p, which was introduced in 1982.

  • The last UK coin to be "demonetised" was the larger, old 10p in 1993.

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