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Charles Babbage Coin Released Sept. 14, 2021

The Royal Mint's Charles Babbage and his Difference Engine coin released today, Sept. 14 2021.
Three versions of the Charles Babbage 50 pence on view with Babbage’s Difference Engine in the background.

Three versions of the Charles Babbage 50 pence on view with Babbage’s Difference Engine in the background.

The Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series continues in 2021 with today’s release of the 150th Anniversary of the Death of Charles Babbage commemorative 50 pence. This is the fourth coin in a Coin of the Year award winning series which began with a 50 pence honoring Stephen Hawking before moving on to DNA researcher Rosalind Franklin and John Logie Baird who demonstrated his first working television in 1926.

An influential scientist, Charles Babbage was a lifelong inventor who believed that scientific advancement should benefit everyone. He was best known for his mechanical calculator, or ‘Difference Engine,’ and conceived the Analytical Engine, that had many essential features found in modern digital computers.

Clare Maclennan, Divisional Director of Commemorative Coins for the Royal Mint made this observation on Babbage’s impact. “Known as the Father of the Computer, Charles Babbage’s inventions have influenced the way we all work and play today, and there is possibly no greater example of the importance of his legacy than in recent times with the reliance of digital media during the pandemic.”

The newest coin in the Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series honors inventor Charles Babbage in a deceptively complex, but simple looking design.

The newest coin in the Royal Mint’s Innovation in Science series honors inventor Charles Babbage in a deceptively complex, but simple looking design.

Designed by Nigel Tudman and Jas Bhamra, this latest coin in the Innovation in Science series offers a link from Babbage’s machinery to the digital age on the canvas of a 50p piece. The making of the Charles Babbage coin combined traditional minting skills and modern technology. The result is simple, yet complex in what it conveys.

Speaking of the coin design, London-based graphic designer Nigel Tudman said: “The Charles Babbage coin brief has been my favourite so far as it involved expressing the development of an idea; taking a complex subject and stripping it back to the essentials to create an attractive yet simple design that contains a subtle message or brain teaser.”

An image of the inventor Charles Babbage is featured on the brilliant uncirculated coin folder packaging, available today at the Royal Mint website for $12.00.

An image of the inventor Charles Babbage is featured on the brilliant uncirculated coin folder packaging, available today at the Royal Mint website for $12.00.

Tudman went on to explain, “Our aim was to achieve a timeless design created in low relief on the canvas of a 50p which celebrated Babbage the inventor and took inspiration from his Difference Engines. Using a geometric modernist typeface and suggesting the horizontal and vertical bars and numbers from the original machine, the design reflects the movement and flow of the calculations in motion, adding the extra twist of encoding Babbage’s name.”

Maclennan noted that The Royal Mint Innovation in Science series “has proved extremely popular with coin collectors and we are delighted to add Charles Babbage to the collection, marking 150 years since his death.”

The proof silver and proof silver piedfort coins come in plush black cases, while the proof gold strike features a rosewood display case.

The proof silver and proof silver piedfort coins come in plush black cases, while the proof gold strike features a rosewood display case.

The coin is available to purchase beginning today at The Royal Mint website at https://www.royalmint.com/charlesbabbage/ at a variety of prices based on metals and mintages. As is traditional for the series, this Charles Babbage 50 pence can be collected in proof gold, proof silver and proof silver piedfort as well as brilliant uncirculated copper-nickel with special educational packaging. The gold proof mintage is limited to 260 pieces, with a price just over $1,250. In proof silver piedfort the price is $120 and mintage is set at 1510. The Royal Mint will produce 4,000 silver proofs and an unlimited number of copper-nickel BU’s each selling for $68 and $12 respectively.