A Royal Proclamation announced the new 50p coin – which will honour the life of the eminent physicist, and in particular his theoretical research into black holes – in February.
His findings pushed modern science forward in innovative new ways, and Hawking’s ability to make complex theories accessible to everybody endeared him the British public.
Here’s everything you need to know about Hawking’s 50p coin.
What does the Stephen Hawking 50p coin look like?
After a few weeks of secrecy, the Royal Mint has unveiled the the new design on the day of the coin’s release, which you can see below.
The coin features a stylised image of a black hole, the inscription ‘STEPHEN HAWKING’, and the Bekenstein-Hawking formula, which describes the thermodynamic entropy of a black hole with a given mass.
When can I get one?
The coin is available from today (12 March), and comes just a couple of days ahead of the 14 March anniversary of Hawking’s death, tying in with commemorations of the physicist’s life.
Hawking is only the third person in British history to be commemorated on a coin within a year of their death.
The other two were Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
The coin is the first of four new 50 pence pieces celebrating the life of prominent scientists, due to be released in 2019 as part of the Royal Mint’s ‘Innovation in Science’ series.
The other three subjects of the coins have yet to be revealed.
How much will it be worth?
Speculation always arises around commemorative coins as to how much they could go on to be worth to collectors in the future.
Any increase in value is mainly dependent on how many of the coins are produced by the Royal Mint.
Mintage figures for individual coins can be hard to come by, and so it may be a while until we have a good idea of how many Stephen Hawking coins are out there.
The fewer coins minted, the more likely they are to become valuable to collectors in years to come.
For example, the Kew Gardens 50p – currently considered the ‘rarest’ 50p in Britain – can sell for up to £160 on eBay.
Only 210,000 of them were created in 2009, an unusually small number for a British coin.
The Royal Mint have confirmed that the new Stephen Hawking 50p carries an “unlimited mintage” (ie the Royal Mint will just produce as many as is necessary to meet demand), so they likely won’t be hard to come by.
How can I get one?
The coin isn’t actually being released into circulation, which means that while it is legal tender, the only way of procuring one for yourself is to buy it online through official channels.
This is also means it might be even harder to come by if you’re not willing to pay for one upfront: why would anybody who has purchased one from the Royal Mint part ways with it?
You can get one for yourself by heading to the Royal Mint’s website, where you can purchase one for £10, which comes housed in educational packaging.
Silver and gold ‘proof’ versions of the coin have already sold out.
Originally published on our sister title, iNews